Minor Hockey Try-Outs
The Way It Is
In part 1 I outlined the way try-outs are supposed to be …. or the way you are led to believe it will be … or maybe the way it once was. In this part I give you some reality on how it really is and a couple of situations you should be aware of.
First let me say that this is based on my experience with the GTHL of the greater Toronto area which happens to be the biggest minor hockey system in the world. I’m not sure exactly how things are done elsewhere, however I’m reasonably certain there are similar experiences in all centres where minor hockey is played.
Now I’m sure that there are legitimate try-outs that are honestly and well run, but you have to be aware of a couple of situations that are pretending to be honest try-outs. Unfortunately these instances are becoming more prevalent and you need to be aware of them. Eventually, if you’re around hockey long enough you’ll find out about this, however if you’re new to the game this can leave you with a big surprise.
The reason for this blog is that I ran into a father that had just moved to Toronto and was led to believe that there were more spots than actually existed for the local team. He had all of of his eggs in one basket and by the time he figured it out, it was too late and most teams were full. They eventually found a team, but now they have to travel quite a distance for home games and practices.
I’m going to describe two broad categories of less than honest try-outs; why they happen and what they’re all about.
Two Less Than Honest Try-out Situations
Same End Result
There are 2 less than fully honest try-out situations that you will encounter. You’ll find out about them eventually, however if you’re new to the game it’s good to be aware of this.
The first happens more often at the entry levels of the minor hockey world; house league, house league select and single A hockey. The team draws from the very local community and the coaches and assistant coaches invariably all have children playing on the team. Making the team is more about who your friends are and being one of the inner circle in that local community. The result is that there are not many spots available and if you are from outside the community, it can be tough to find a spot on the team.
The second happens are the higher levels of hockey and is more prevalent at the triple A and double A levels (although more recently, single A hockey has become more serious).
At the higher level of minor, you can expect the following to be taking place:
- Coaches are in arenas almost every night watching games and scouting for talent for the next year. (Remember, coaching becomes a lot easier if the team is loaded with all of the talent.) If you have a talented hockey player son or daughter, you can expect to be approached by coaches asking to join their team for the following season. In the GTHL this is known as tampering and is against the GTHL rules; nevertheless it happens all the time and the “no tampering” rule is rarely enforced.
- Coaches will hold what is known as “birthday skates”. The holding of an on-ice try-out before the officially appointed date is not allowed by the GTHL. But coaches get around this rule by have so-called “birthday skates” which is a phony birthday party allowing a coach to get recruits on the ice and evaluate talent against a known standard; namely the players on his present team.
- Coaches will organize “summer teams” or “tournament teams”. There are all kinds of summer hockey tournaments in the Great Toronto area and putting together a tournament team affords a coach 2 very important things. First is the opportunity to evaluate potential recruits in actual hockey games against another team and second to make a bit of money (there will always be a fee to be paid to be on a summer team).
The end result is the same in that there are not many spots available as you made think or be led to believe.
I Wish I Could Give You An Easy Solution
The fact is that in many instances there will not be as many spots available on a team that you may have be led to believe. Coaches will never admit it and remember that try-outs are a money-maker for organizations and the more players that come to try-outs the better for them.
My suggestion is to talk to as many parents as possible and get as much information about the coach and reality about available spots.
The other suggestion is to not put all of your eggs in one basket. Be prepared to try out with a number of teams and keep your options open.
Just One More Thing
There is one reoccurring thing that I will always get back to. Spend your time and energy doing what you can to see that your son or daughter is the best hockey player they can be.
I’ll tell you right now that it’s my opinion there 2 main factors that contribute to over-all success . Be as skilled as possible and have the “right” attitude every time you are on the ice and in the play of the game. I’ve covered some of these elements in previous blogs, however I will surely devote a blog solely to these in the near future.
Minor Hockey Try-Outs
The Way It Is
In part 3 I’ll discuss what came first; the chicken or the egg?
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