Every year when mid to late August comes around, hockey camps and tryouts are in full swing. All your training and time spent working on skills throughout the summer has been to prepare for this. In the Alberta Female Midget AAA hockey league there are six teams, each team containing around 22 players, including goalies. If you take away the five players and one goalie each team is allowed to sign prior to camp, plus returning players, there is not always very many positions to earn. If you factor in how many players come to camp, how much time you have to showcase yourself, plus nerves and other unknown factors it can be a very stressful time for players.
How can you prepare for all of that? You trust your training and ability—it’s as simple as that. If you are confident in your play and trust that you have done your absolute best to train for camp, your performance will be positively impacted. However, every team and coaching staff is looking for different attributes for their team. Some may want a more aggressive player, while others look for speed. Some coaches may be asking for tactical play rather than creativity. Some teams may put more of an emphasis on the person you are as well. Every team is different but there are still broad ways to handle tryouts. After being through the process many times here are my top 3 suggestions to help you tackle camp:
1. Know your strengths. This will make a huge difference for you at camp. There is limited time to show what you have in your toolbox. If you are a goaltender like myself, maybe you can handle the puck well. Although this may not be one of the skills they specifically mention in your goalie session, when you have the chance to play the puck do it! Be who you are as a player and confident in your skills. Listen to what the coaches are looking for and complete those tasks, but make sure you showcase what you are good at! If you are a playmaker do not go out there and try to score the pretty goal because you want the coaches to notice. Go out and make a simple pass to a girl who puts it in the net, the coaches notice those things and you can’t have a team full of strictly goalscorers. Be confident in your strengths and play off of them!
2. Be coachable. The coaches and mentors are there to make you better, even if they are evaluating. Be open to the things they say to you and be sure to try them out! Even if it is something you have never done before and you ¨have always done it this way¨ just try it. They are watching to see who wants to be better and who is willing to take risks and try new things. Be aware of all the little details in things such as drills or instructions off ice, the little details are weighed heavily. If a coach tells you to stop at the net after every shot or keep your jersey on as long as you are at the rink, make sure you do. There is a reason they mentioned it.
3. Be a good person. A team needs to become family, at least for the length of the season. If coaches get one bad apple in the room it can ruin the entire team atmosphere and chemistry, which will ultimately affect the teams on-ice play and performance. It doesn’t matter if you can score 50 goals in a season, if your winger or partner doesn’t get along with you because you are a rude person you will not be scoring 50 goals. Hockey is a team sport—one or two players will not win you games, it takes everyone working together and getting along to have success. Being a good person goes far beyond your team’s performance, though. The person you are is a direct reflection of the team and program you play for. You also may not know it but as a female playing hockey you are very likely to be a role model for young girls. Decide what you want to model and be that person.
PWM Steelers mentorship program
These tips are not a free ticket to making a team by any means. The game of hockey requires a lot of hard work and dedication on and off the ice. Every team comes down to a coach’s decision. That is their job and they are forced to make the call on what they saw and what they believe they want their team to look like. But it IS your job to do your absolute best and make it very difficult for them to cut you from the team. Use these tips as you head into camp with confidence and you may be surprised at how you perform. Do not be nervous, hockey is a game and probably your passion, remember that. There is no pressure—just go out on the ice and play your game! There is nothing else you must do! How you perform is the only thing you can control, embrace it and play your heart out! Good luck!