By Grant Kimball, Yale University Women’s Hockey Assistant Coach
Another season is a few short weeks away and everyone knows what that means – TRYOUTS! There can be a lot of anxiety and stress when trying out for a team. Here are 10 tips in no particular order to help you manage the time leading up to and during the tryout itself!
- Shake off the rust…going into a tryout without having skated, shot some pucks, or made some saves is difficult. Get some ice time 1-2 weeks before your tryouts. It usually takes the body anywhere from 4-6 hours of ice time to make your muscles remember all those ‘hockey movements’ again. If you can’t get any structured ice time, go to a public skating session or rat hockey time.
- Get your rest…sleep is such an undervalued tool these days. The more sleep you get, the sharper your brain and body will be. Try to get in a pattern 1-2 weeks before tryouts. This will allow your body to get on a schedule. Try to wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day no matter what.
- Eat well and stay hydrated 2 weeks prior…of course eating well and staying hydrated will help. If you only do that 1-2 days prior to your tryout, it’s too late! 2 weeks before your tryouts drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day and eat foods low in fats. Fruits, veggies, fish/chicken for protein are great options. 4-6 small meals throughout the day is a great way to manage hunger and not over-eat. Don’t totally stay away from pasta/carbs…just be smart about when you have them, like 2 days before your ice time but not the night before.
- Have a plan to attack the tryout…this one is more about control, you want to be in control of as much as you can leading up to the tryout itself. So, plan everything out. Plan how the tryout will go. When are you going to leave for the rink? What are you going to eat the night before? Are you going to stretch before you hit the ice? Think of everything leading up to the moment before you hit the ice. Be in control and stick to your plan.
- Don’t listen to the noise!!! Around tryout time there is always lots of talk…so-and-so has already made the team, etc. etc. etc. Don’t listen to it. Keep the noise out of your head (music is great for this in the locker room). Stay focused on what you can control – your effort and attitude.
- Visualize the tryout in your head…You’d be amazed at the power of the mind. Play the whole tryout in your head before it happens. See yourself skating on the ice executing drills correctly, making awesome passes, scoring great goals, supporting your teammates.
- Listen and follow directions… This one takes no hockey skill at all, just your ability to focus and pay attention. Focus on the directions of the coach. Coaches want to know if players are coachable and can follow directions. It’s one thing to be skilled, it’s another if you can’t use it. Ask questions if you don’t understand a drill.
- Don’t be a hero, play unselfish hockey… No one likes a puck-hog, but in a tryout situation it’s very easy to get wrapped up in thinking you need ‘to show those coaches how you play’. Play the game the way it should be played… any coach worth her/his weight will appreciate players who make great decisions out there. Pass when you should pass, shoot when you should shoot, work hard, etc.
- Have FUN… we know tryouts can be stressful but they can be even more stressful when you aren’t having any fun. So smile every once in a while when something good happens out on the ice. It is only a game and life will go on – even if you don’t make the team.
- Play hard, but be respectful… sometimes players can over-do it out there. Our emotions run high, we’re all amped up and intense and want to show the coaches we’re working super hard. Be careful to not take all that emotion too far with your play and your reactions to things out there. Play hard, compete, have fun, and respect the game as well as your opponents. Coaches want players who can control their emotions in high pressure situations – which a tryout is.