After spending the weekend in Boston coaching players who aspire to
play hockey at the college hockey level and speaking with the scouts
who were narrowing down their shortlists of players who they are
interested in, I realized how much the little details of the game make
a big difference.
If you want to play at the next level, you have to pay attention to
the little details and avoid these five deal-breakers.
::: 5 DEAL-BREAKERS FOR SCOUTS :::
1. Doesn’t Stop On Pucks
Every player has heard their coach tell them to stop and start. There is nothing
worse than watching a player do a “fly-by” on their check and do a big circle to
recover back instead of stopping and starting. Whether it is after a turnover or
while trying to angle your opponent, if you miss the puck or make a mistake,
you have to stop and start instead of doing the big circle. It is so noticeable
when players do it – I heard more than handful of coaches and scouts
expressing their frustration at “fly-bys” at the tournament this weekend.
2. Disappears As Game/Tournament Goes On
Everyone is excited and energized for the first shift of the game and the first
game of the tournament. But can you sustain it? It is great to be a rockstar
at the start of the game and tournament, but if you are invisible in the third
period or in the third game of the tournament, scouts will notice. You have
to be consistent. It’s one of the hardest things for young players to learn,
but it is absolutely critical if you want to get to the next level. Coaches want
to know that you can deliver a consistent effort from shift-to-shift and
game-to-game if they are going to even consider bringing you into their
college program someday.
3. No Second Effort
This one is just painful to watch. We all make mistakes on the ice. We miss
the puck, miss our check, miss the net and mishandle the puck. How do you
react when you make that mistake? Some players give up when they mess up.
And that’s a serious red flag for every coach. It’s inevitable that you are going
to make mistakes on the ice – but how will you recover from that mistake?
A player who is unwilling to make the 2nd effort will not see the ice at the college
level – if they even make it there at all.
4. Lazy Changes
This one is easy. You need to skate hard to the bench at the end of your shift
and come off the bench like you’ve been shot out of a rocket to start your
next shift. Lazy changes stick out like a sore thumb. Come out flying at the
start of your shift and then work as hard as you can to change quickly so that
your teammate can go out and get their job done.
5. Bad Body Language
Body language doesn’t lie. As I said above, you’re going to screw up out there.
And so are your teammates. What will your body language say about the
mistake you just made? Will you slam your stick on the ice? Will you shake
your head or droop your shoulders? Will you slow down or speed up? Will
you keep going full-out as if nothing ever happened? Bad body language
is selfish and distracting. And it is a huge red flag for every coach and scout
These 5 deal-breakers have NOTHING to do with elite level skill.
These are all CHOICES. You simply DECIDE that you are going
to pay attention to these details. Differentiate yourself from the crowd
by deciding to always be the hardest working player on the ice. Period.
Don’t give a scout a reason to cross your name off the list.
Feel free to pass this along to any players, teammates or coaches who
you think might benefit from the information.
Work Hard. Dream BIG. Pay Attention To Details.
Your friend and coach,
PS – If you want a step-by-step guide I created specifically for girls hockey
players to help you through the entire college hockey recruiting process,
click on the link below:
Kim McCullough, MSc, YCS
Director, Total Female Hockey
Girls Hockey Director, PEAC School For Elite Athletes