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What Hockey Coaches Look For In Tryouts

What Hockey Coaches Look For In Tryouts

Youth Sports •

Whether you are new to the world of hockey or hoping to return for another season, it can be difficult to know what hockey coaches look for in tryouts. Beyond the basic skills, such as skating, puck handling, and passing, what else are coaches looking for in athletes?

Rather than spending hours analyzing every skill a hockey coach could potentially evaluate, we discuss some important areas to focus on that could move you off the bubble and onto the roster.


  • Have your gear in order. This includes everything from remembering your mouthguard to having your skates sharpened.
  • Hit the ice on time. A proper warm-up will give you extra time to practice your skills while getting your body properly conditioned.
  • Keep your focus on feedback. Ensure you always listen to any pointers given during tryouts by your coaches.


Due to the fact that skating is the foundational skill in hockey, which means all other skills can be built upon this, take the time to focus on your acceleration, turning, crossovers, and stopping on the ice. The other fundamentals — handling the puck, shooting, sending and receiving passes — will all be evaluated. However, powerful skaters don’t go unnoticed.

Positive attitude

Even if you’ve played on this team or for this coach previously, don’t assume that making the team is a given. Show your skills, but also show your hustle, respect for the coaches, and support for your teammates. Be the player on the bench cheering your teammates on or volunteer to skate around the rink after tryouts to help your coaches pick up the pucks. Coaches look for athletes who have a positive attitude, as this indicates that they believe in themselves, their team, and the game.


There is always room for growth and development each year, no matter how many years you have been playing hockey. In order to achieve your full potential on the ice, be receptive to feedback from your coaches.

If a coach gives you a pointer to improve your skating speed, acknowledge that you will incorporate their suggestion throughout the tryouts. If you need further clarification (or even a demonstration) on how to improve that specific skill, don’t be afraid to ask. Coaches are there to help individual players grow their skills and become more confident players on the ice.

Team player

Always lend a helping hand to other players on your team. This could come in the form of verbal encouragement when you are on the ice alongside your teammate or helping them one-on-one with a specific skill they need to work on after tryouts.

Considering hockey is a team sport, each player needs to work collectively to achieve success. When you show the qualities of a strong team player, this signals to your coaches that you have the communication and collaboration skills they are looking for in a team setting.

Willingness to learn

Understandably, you might not have mastered every skill yet; there is always room for growth and development. However, willingness to learn is a key characteristic that hockey coaches look for in tryouts.

Ask plenty of questions, demonstrate your passion for learning new skills, be open to trying new techniques suggested by your coaches, and accept challenges as they come (i.e., If your skating crossovers are lacking momentum, observe other players on the ice and seek the advice from your coach for a few tips. After taking in some new information, ask if you can have another go at mastering your crossovers before tryouts end).


Coaches are looking for players who can quickly adjust to new changes. At any point during a hockey tryout, a player might be asked to play a different position based on team needs, or a player might need to switch up their strategy based on how much time is remaining on the clock.

Whether this is an ask by a coach or an initiative taken by the player, it is important that players demonstrate flexibility and receptivity to any changes.

In the competitive world of hockey tryouts, standing out requires more than just skill. It’s about making an unforgettable first impression by being punctual and focused, showcasing your exceptional skating abilities, and, most importantly, displaying teamwork, a positive attitude, and coachability.

Skating prowess, especially quick starts, agile turns, and sharp crossovers can give you an edge. But your willingness to hustle, lead, and listen can set you apart. Coaches value character, so channel your passion into maturity and resilience.

Know of a hockey coach looking for an easier way to evaluate players? SkillShark enables coaches to evaluate any skill during hockey tryouts on their mobile devices. Once scores are collected, data is then readily available to view player rankings, compare players, and confidently create teams.


Coaches take into account first impressions, skating skills, attitude, hustle, coachability, leadership, character, and attention to detail. Coaches look beyond just playing skills to select well-rounded players who can contribute positively to the team.

A coach looks for a player who hustles to the puck, doesn’t back down from contact, is committed to defensive play, is willing to block shots, finishes checks, handles the puck carefully and can stay focused.

SkillShark offers tools and features that can enhance the evaluation process in hockey tryouts. It provides coaches with an efficient and transparent way to evaluate players and offer feedback. Coaches can evaluate players on any hockey-related skill, from passing delivery, forward skating, edge work, shot velocity, and more.

Coaches should go into a hockey tryout knowing what types of players they are looking for in each position. This includes making a mental checklist in their heads of what makes a strong player. For example, a goalie must be able to move in all directions while being able to abruptly react to any shot made their way.

Create an evaluation template well ahead of the tryouts. Hockey players should be evaluated on their skating, puck skills, shooting, work ethic, and dexterity.

Elanne Krainyk

Elanne is SkillShark’s marketing aficionado who is equal parts passionate about sports, marketing and sports marketing. She can usually be found with a golf ball or three in her purse, and her favorite way to spend downtime is out on the course with friends and family.