With hockey evaluations having started or starting within the next week or two, I want to provide some information so players can prepare to enter their evaluations with the proper mindset. Here are four things players should be aware of.
1. Have Fun
We often forget that hockey is a game and is meant to be fun. Regardless of the situation, always remember: it’s just a game. The moment hockey players over hype the importance of evaluations, they begin to squeeze their stick a little tighter, and things won’t go how they want. Play hard, play free, and play for the love of the game.
2. Stick to Your Strengths
The problem at evaluations is players want to do “too much.” The truth is, each player has unique strengths and weaknesses. If a stay-at-home defenseman suddenly starts rushing the puck and getting caught out of position, that won’t help their cause.
Stick with what you’re good at. If you’re a goal scorer, score goals. If you’re a playmaker, make plays. If you’re a physical player, finish your checks. This might sound simple, but players get in trouble when trying to do “too much.”
3. Intangibles Matter
Some players might view their evaluations a success based on how many goals or assists they put up. Sure, coaches and scouts take a look at the game sheet, but they evaluate you on much more:
- Do you show good body language?
- Do you show second and third effort?
- Can you win a faceoff?
- Are you willing to block a shot?
- Do you backcheck?
- Are you responsible defensively?
- Can you make plays under pressure?
Remember: coaches, evaluate you on much more than the goals and assists you’ve put up.
4. Coaches Are on Your Side
I can’t speak for all coaches, but I’ve talked to many coaches regarding evaluations, and I genuinely believe coaches want what’s best for the player.
If you end up not making the team you were hoping for, don’t use the “the coach didn’t like me” rationale. The more likely scenario is the coach thought:
- They are better off getting more ice time
- They are better off playing a more prominent role
- They aren’t quite ready to make the jump
None of the above reasons are bad. Hockey is a marathon, not a sprint, and each player has their own unique path. Sometimes, a player’s development is better served to be a first-line player at a lower level versus being a fourth-line player at the highest level. Trust the process.
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