I was approached by a player who was interested in playing pro hockey. He said, “I want to play professional hockey, but don’t know if I’m getting noticed or how to even get a tryout”. When it comes to securing a tryout or getting noticed by professional, college or junior teams, you must be willing to do what it takes to reach the right people. Think of it as networking but with more of a personal connection. If you are working with an agent, then great. There are many qualified agents out there that are available to help but I do believe that you should be making a lot of connections on your own as well. If you are not working with an agent, you must be willing to contact teams. The basic information they need to know is: your name, age, height, weight, position, shot and stats. They will also be interested in where you’ve been playing the last few years, who your coaches are and why you would be an asset to them. With thousands of hockey players trying to play in the top leagues around the world, you have to find a way to separate yourself from the sea of others and clearly explaining why you are different and why they should pick you is a great start.
First you need to ask yourself, “am I training the right way”? When you are training and doing off-ice workouts, make sure you are giving it your all. Train like a hockey player, not a body builder and remember, hockey players don’t sport tank tops in the gym! You can find hockey specific workouts online or with your local strength and conditioning coach with different exercises hockey players use to develop muscle in the right areas. Your legs and core muscles are primary areas that hockey players need to develop. Also you should have a structured nutritional plan. You can contact Ideal Weight, a group of wellness coaches, wh0 currently help athletes all over the world achieve nutritional success. And when you are on the ice, be first in line, do the drills hard and always compete against your teammates. Not only will you make yourself better, but you will make your teammates better. In the end, the further your team goes in the playoffs, the more you will be talked about and the more interest you and your team will draw.
Second, you need to promote yourself and let the teams you are interested in know who you are. By contacting teams and coaches you are putting a name with a face, or rather a voice. By making a simple phone call you are forming the beginnings of an important relationship. Also, by sending a player profile or a video highlighting your skills and accomplishments, coaches will be able to see the type of player you are and if they should be taking a closer look at you. Remember there are only so many coaches and scouts that are able to travel around and see players, so if you happen to not fall into their travel plans your chances of getting noticed are slim. Allowing coaches to see you on video first, is a good first step to give them confidence that you are worth actually going to see. Also, the best person to promote you, besides yourself, is your coach or another credible coach who has closely worked with you. Your coach watches you practice and play every week, and if they see that you are putting in the time, working hard and doing the extra things on and off the ice, they most likely will be willing to promote. Talk to your coach at the start of the season and let them know your goals and request their help and guidance.
Third, ensure you are attending any available open tryouts or summer tournaments that coaches and scouts are attending. Tournaments and tryouts are run throughout the summer in different geographic locations. These are great opportunities for teams to see you and learn more about who you are and what you have to offer. During the summer is when teams are less busy, so coaches and scouts have more opportunity to watch players. If you are planning on attending a summer tournament, be sure to contact teams of interest and let them know that you will be at this tournament on whatever date and inquire if they are able to attend. Also many professional teams hold open tryouts for players to attend. The minor professional teams often don’t have the budget to have scouts, so they use open tryouts to try and get players to attend so they can see and evaluate them in one central location. Check their websites for tryout dates or call the front office for more details. Whichever you decide to do, these are a great way to get noticed and get your name out there. When you attend these tournaments and tryouts, make sure to approach the coaches and management and engage in conversation and ask questions. Do not just show up hoping they will approach you. Be proactive and get yourself noticed!
In the end, you need to do what it takes to get teams interested in you and see who you are as a player. Connecting with these teams is very important unless you have someone doing this for you. Even if you do, be sure to follow up with them and make sure your being introduced to these teams and coaches. Relying on someone else to do the work, often can result in the work not being done. If you really want to play somewhere or take your game to the next level, make the contacts you need to get you there.