Six Things to Separate Yourself in the Eyes of the Coach
Eric Eustace is a Co-Founder of Bolt Sports, former NCAA hockey player and hockey coach of 10+ years. Eric will be contributing articles relevant to Bolt updates in addition to interesting pieces for young, developing hockey players!
It’s no secret that in today’s day and age, youth sports are becoming more and more competitive. Kids are getting better at their respective sports and there are more of them. It’s much easier to fall through the cracks and just ‘miss the cut’. Below are five key things to do to ensure you give yourself the best chance to make the team:
1. Effort, Effort, Effort
One thing EVERY coach hates is lack of effort. Seeing a kid give up with 10% of the drill left or going through the motions and just completing a drill, rather than pushing yourself to the limit each rep are major red flags. When it comes down to selecting one kid over another, the coach will often choose the slightly less skilled child who gives 100% at all times as they will have more long term upside.
2. Pay Attention to the Small Details and Ask GOOD Questions
Coaches hate DRILL BUSTERS. Pay attention to the drill and if you don’t understand, either ask a question or go near the back of the line and watch the kids ahead of you. Don’t say “I don’t get it”. Something like, “Hey coach in this specific part of the drill I didn’t quite understand how we were supposed to do ‘x’. Could you explain that part again?” is much better. Asking a more detailed question like this will show the coach you were paying attention. Furthermore, use questions to show your creativity. “Hey coach, in this part of the drill can I try doing this?” This will show them that you’re really thinking about how the drill will help improve your game.
3. Practice Away From the Rink and Ask for Feedback
Hockey practice is just that, a practice. Sure you’ll work on individual skills, but it does not substitute the hours you must put in away from the rink. Ask the coach what he thinks you should work on to improve your game. Go work on it, for hours, then ask again for feedback. Coaches love when their players show initiative like this on improving themselves individually.
4. Be a Team Player
This one is less direct, but definitely something all coaches pick up on. Whether on or off the ice, be the kind of player who is always lifting teammates up. If they make a mistake, DO NOT be negative, but motivational. Watch your body language. Something as simple as “hey man don’t worry about it you’ll get it next time” or a bit more in depth such as, “hey good try there, but next time try doing this” will show the coach that you’re the kind of player to not get down on your teammates. This goes a LONG way.
Your teammates are your friends, but not between the whistles in practice when you are battling. Every single battle drill, go all out and do not let up until the whistle blows. If you get beat, go harder next time. Your coaches will recognize and reward this intensity. Every time you go easy or let up on your teammate in practice, you are not helping them get better as a player and your team will suffer as a result. Challenge each other and turn every practice into a competition.
6. Have Fun and Enjoy the Game
Often at the youth level, coaches are there simply because they want to share their passion for the game. It’s a huge time commitment, but not a career. Be the kind of player who shows up to the rink every day to work because they WANT to, not because they HAVE to. If the coach sees you’re putting in effort and having a good time, they’ll reciprocate that energy.
At Bolt Sports, we’re here to help you. We aim to make training as fun and competitive as possible so athletes can get the most out of it. Don’t just shoot 100 pucks. Use Snipes and shoot 500 pucks, with intent every single rep. Polish those individual skills at home so you can show up to the rink in your best form for practice. Every. Single. Time.