Everyone knows that coaches love highly skilled athletes. Razor shots, soft hands and skating like the wind are attributes that every coach would love their players to have, but we also know that it takes much more than those qualities to make a tremendously effective hockey player. Having an understanding of what coaches look for helps aspiring Lakers maximize their chances of securing a position at the conclusion of tryouts.
There are several different factors that coaches look for outside of basic skills in athletes during their evaluations, I don't assume that all coaches would have the same preference of order, but I am confident that exhibiting the positive aspect of these qualities will help you in your quest to attain a spot later this month.
Attitude: This is my #1 non-skill quality that I look for in athletes. Positiveness toward the challenges they face in the environment. Positiveness toward their teammates and coaches. A willingness to be part of and supportive of the program. Respectful in their approach to authority figures, competitors and fans.
Competitiveness: Hockey is a game of battles, coaches will look for that little extra effort or second or third effort that exhibits a player's competitiveness. Being first in the corner or sacrificing the body for the play tells us that winning is paramount to you and your approach to the sport .
Fearlessness: Does the player avoid the corners or slow up and let the competitor get their first? Is the forward willing to take the hit on the boards to advance the play? Fear is easily identified by a coach and not highly sought after. We don't expect our player to put themselves in harm’s way but it is a contact sport and you have to be willing to play an aggressive game.
Intelligence: Are you creative? Does the player try to attack as a unit and approach his game as a five man unit? Does the player attract the defense then move the puck to maximize his line's opportunities or does he act individually with too much focus on individual stats?
Leadership: Does the athlete make the players around him better? Do the teammates look up to and respect the player? Is the player liked by teammates or is he arrogant and aloof?
Work Ethic: Does the player complain about working hard or does he relish it and challenge his teammates with his effort?
Coachability: Does the player pay attention at the white board and absorb and execute the drills? Does the athlete take the direction they are given and implement it in their game?
Punctual: Is the player on time and ready and dressed to go at start time? When the whistle blows does he shoot an extra puck or does he high tail it into the scrum?
These are just a few things that coaches will be trying to evaluate during the tryouts and hopefully you will give some thought to your approach for the evaluation. Effort, attitude and aggressiveness are a great way to start. I wish the best of luck to you all in the upcoming tryouts, however I hope you don't leave it up to luck, consider making your own luck by giving it all you've got.
From an article by Todd Goetz originally posted in 2007 (great advice never goes out of date)