It’s about that time of year again. Summer programs are coming to an end and tryouts have either started or are just around the corner. For many players this is a very stressful time. The uncertainty alone can be mind crushing.
You may be questioning if you’re good enough to make the first team, if all the hard work will pay off, or if you’ll like the new coach?
Let’s unpack all that stress you are essentially putting on yourself. You either did one of two things this summer. You put the work in or you didn’t, PERIOD. (If you didn’t, then this article won’t help you much. You have now left your fate in the hands of chance alone). For those who put the work in, how do you know if you did? You’ve trained relentlessly on and off the ice at least 4-5 days a week, were consistent all summer, and worked specifically on areas you needed to improve on.
If you put the work in, then the rest is just mental. It’s all in your own head. Some of you might say you know that already, but that awareness will really put it all in perspective. When you say it out loud you start to think, “Yeah, I’m prepared, I’m ready, let’s get this thing going!” It’s simple to say, but not easy to do. This is the first step. You put the work in, so tryouts are the time to show everyone and yourself what you're made of.
Another tendency that comes up is players immediately start to compare themselves to other players before tryouts. They overhear parents talking about who will be there and how it will be a tough tryout this year. The ball starts rolling in your head and before you know it, all you're thinking about is how good everyone else is, instead of your own game. You start making excuses about how you won’t make the team because of this or that to simply set the bar low for yourself.
STOP! Like the first step, this is self-induced and can easily get mediated by FOCUSING ON YOUR GAME! Take a sheet of paper and write 3-5 skills that you are really good at. It could be as simple as backwards skating or as complex as being able to find soft spots in the ozone under pressure. Focus on executing these skills consistently. This turns the focus on YOU versus others, allowing you to be more engaged in the present moment.
Now, those are two big mental hurdles we cleared, but what about on the ice? Playing your game will allow you to play at your best. Doing so will give you the best chance to get noticed. One other sure-fire way to get noticed is to play with HIGH COMPETE, BATTLE, AND OUT WORK OTHERS. At the end of the day, it’s hard to say no to a player that plays with a high level of compete. Not to mention it’s difficult to play against, and will lead to you getting more time and space to play your game.
“Worry less about looking “cool” and focus more on playing your game with a high level of compete.”
In closing, these tips won’t guarantee you will make the team, but it will allow you at the very least to turn heads. Sometimes teams aren’t a good fit and that’s ok. The only way you will flourish as a player is if you have a coach that trusts you, lets you play your game, and gives you a good amount of playing time. To review, you want to mediate the stress of tryouts by first creating the awareness that you put the work in and you’re ready to go. Next, you must minimize how much you think of others and focus on playing to your 3-5 strengths. Lastly, you need to play with an incredible amount of high compete.
Thanks for reading and good luck at tryouts!