Minor Hockey Try-Outs
What Came First, The Chicken Or The Egg?
Who Is Responsible For This “Kabuki” Dance?
In the last blog I wanted to alert new parents of some the reality they may face at try-out time in efforts for their child to make a team. There was an important topic that dealt with a troubling aspect of minor hockey today. A lot of teams are already set by try-outs and the available of openings on a team may be limited or even nonexistent. Now no one from the organization will ever alert you to this and in fact, it will be hushed up in part because the reasons that lead to this are against GTHL rules.
Try-outs are theoretically held for one basic reason which is to fill open spots with the most talented players a team can get. (One should keep in mind though that organizations can make money from try-outs. The more players that come to the try-outs; the more money an organization can make from the fees that are charged. It should be obvious then that if in fact the team is already set; this will never be made known.)
How Did It All Start?
This was more than likely started by coaches.
Even the dumbest coach on the face of the earth understands the importance of having a winning record. The coach that wins the championship is virtually immune from any kind of criticism. On the other hand, a coach with a bad losing record can be assured of all kinds of criticism. If a team is not performing well, it’s always the coach’s fault and it’s interesting how everyone who has ever watched a few games on Hockey Night In Canada seems to become an instant expert.
As a result, coaches understand the value of having the absolute best talent available and most will resort to all kinds of measures to stack their team. After all, if you have all of the best talent, all you have to do is turn them loose and they will win games with very little teaching and coaching effort.
Many coaches are in arenas all year scouting talent and then approaching the player and parent for next year ….. something which is against the rules in the GTHL however many coaches actively engage in recruiting. Coaches also frequently run illegal on-ice skates disguised as a “birthday” party. In fairness, enforcing rules against these sketchy practices is difficult for the league and as long as you can get away with it; there are a lot of coaches that will do everything they can to stack their team.
What Came First, The Chicken Or The Egg?
Years ago there were always jokes among parents that such and such a coach had reportedly committed to 50 players for next year. Under GTHL rules a team can have a maximum of 20 players registered, so obviously, the joke was that many coaches had over-committed.
Reality is that most of the information on this issue that parents hear, comes from other parents. Coaches almost never talk about it. As a result since all you hear comes from other parents, it’s the coaches that take the knock on these practices.
However, the truth is that parents are involved in these practices right up to their necks. A great number of parents will be calling “winning” coaches for a spot for next season, organizing the so-called “birthday skates”, alerting coaches to other potential good recruits and on an on.
I believe too many parents focus solely on getting their kids on a really strong team thinking it will help their kids to look as good as possible and will therefore enhance their future prospects. In fact, I’m certain that this type of maneuvering is detrimental to their future prospects. It has constantly amazed me that parents in their efforts to help their children’s fortunes in hockey, somehow instinctively do things that have the exact opposite effect.
Who Is Responsible?
I’m not certain how this all started but at this point it doesn’t matter who initiated this yearly “dance”. It has become the yearly ritual at try-out time and will likely never change. Both coaches and parents are maneuvering for their own benefit and both are almost certainly lying to each other. Many promises will be broken on both sides, but no worries; it will all be forgotten at try-out the next year.
For those who are new to the system, just be aware so that you can govern your action according and not get hurt.
This “Kabuki” Dance Will Live On
In the next blogs I will relate some examples of the “Kabuki” dance.
I have some amazing examples of maneuvering involving both coaches and parents to build a so-called “dream team”. You may or you may not be amazed at these examples but one thing I will declare; I am certain of my facts regarding these instances. I am sure you will find them interesting. I think also, you will find them amusing. My hope is that you learn something that will help you.
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