So, how is this whole tryout thing working for you this year?

At this point you are either getting ready, in the midst of tryouts, or they are over and you are on to the next stage.

How did you prepare? Was there a well thought out program for physical training, supplemented by mental preparation that was executed over the off season? If so, tryouts were likely a pleasant experience and there was a positive outcome.

Let’s hope every tryout starts with team management being very clear about how to make the team;

…”this is the type of culture we want for our team…”

…”we want players who exhibit these overall characteristics of work ethic, discipline, …”

…”we will not tolerate any behavior that includes, disrespect of others, etc. …”

…” we need players to fill these specific roles…”

I had a chance to spend time over two days at the Dallas Stars training camp in Charlottetown, PEI. After the ice sessions I visited with head coach Marc Crawford, assistant coach Willie Desjardins, AHL head coach Glen Gulutzen, and Director of Minor League Operations Scott White.

Watching the players in the dressing room area, it was obvious all were serious about their physical preparation. Most players looked like they were in great shape as they prepared their post-practice sport drinks and snacks. Coach Crawford noted how this part of the game had come a long way since his playing days.

Also talked with Frank Hubley, a high school hockey head coach in Halifax, NS, about his tryout process. He added points like looking for more from a returning player, the need to have balance between grades 10, 11, and 12, and being clear to participants about team goals for the season.

Wally Bray is the head coach at the AAA midget level in St. John’s, NL. His coaching staff and manager Tim Power have to build a team that will be capable of hosting the Telus Cup, the national championship for this level. Players here get on the team by performance by a series of competitive scrimmage sessions. The camp was fun to watch as layers competed to make the team.

At the end of tryouts, hopefully there are some common positive results:

…players feel they had a fair opportunity to show how they can play the game

…all had a fair chance to make the team

…there was an environment where players will leave being at least a little better for the experience

…even though the tryouts were challenging, it was a fun experience

Now, let the season begin…

Be Sure You Select The Best Captain Possible For Your Team

Most teams understand the importance of leadership. Getting the right captain and alternates is a major component of  team leadership and can be a key to a team’s success. The captain will likely become the ‘face’ of the team to fans and media. He will be the one the coaching staff relies on to ‘run’ the dressing room and players look to for leadership.

Teams use different strategies to pick a captain. The process can take many forms:

  • Players vote for the team captains
  • Coach picks the best player as captain
  • Th most senior players fill the captain roles
  • Rotate the ‘C’ through the lineup over the course of the season
  • By committee, where everyone gets a say
  • Management selects the captains

Danny Brooks, assistant coach with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL had this to say about what is done with his major junior team.

The three most important aspects to our organization are: 1. work ethic, 2. attitude, 3. discipline.  The captain and assistant captains must have those attributes first and foremost. The captain represents what we want everyday. Our captain is not our best player, but he brings those attributes everyday. He pushes the best players to adopt those attributes. Leadership is something that is groomed. We do something very unique here in Drummondville; we change our assistant captains every month. We reward players for hard work, discipline and attitude. Each player is also a leader in his own right. A player can be a leader in a particular aspect of the game. For example, if you are a banger, you might be the leader of the bangers. In each case all players have ownership in the team. Players are held accountable for the aspect they lead the team in.

Frank Hubley, coaching at the high school level in Nova Scotia, tells us how he selects his captains

I choose the captains. At times I have asked a number of players who they think would make good captains. I ask them ‘why’ and if there are any reasons why any of their choices may not be a good captain for the team.

I have done it where I ask no questions and I pick the captains myself. I have never allowed the players pick the captains. For me it is too much of a popularity contest. Also, I may speak about leadership to the team then ask for 3-4 names of people they think would be good captains. I  have not made up my mind on that way yet.

Jason Lammers, assistant coach with Ohio State, gives us another perspective on the process.

This year we had the guys fill out a questionnaire asking for more information about teammates. For example we asked; who would you want in your foxhole, who is the most committed on and off the ice, and who has the best work ethic. We added up the scores and then decided if we agreed with what the guys thought. It seemed to work really well!

There is no sure-fire way to ensure your team selects the best person as captain. That shouldn’t stop you from doing everything possible to try to make this happen anyway. The right leader could make or break your season.

If you have any suggestion on how to pick captains, please comment on this post,