What are the most efficient strategies for evaluating youth hockey players at tryouts? Every year, minor hockey associations undertake what is considered a fairly challenging evaluation process. This can be tension-filled and laborious, along with hours of data entry after the evaluation is complete.
In this article, we’re going to talk about how to efficiently conduct hockey player evaluations, some of the biggest challenges coaches often face, and what you can do to streamline and improve your evaluation process today.
Problems With Evaluating Youth Hockey Players
As a coach, the 3 biggest areas that I saw in evaluating youth hockey players are:
Athletes almost never received any formal feedback on their performance after an evaluation.
Coaches spend countless hours doing data entry into spreadsheets and then have to try to make sense of the data.
Parents often feel dissatisfied regarding their kids’ placement decisions. However, coaches rarely provide parents with information to give them a better understanding of the criteria used to make the decision.
It all comes down to information. A coach’s time is already spread thinly, and they rarely have the time to re-format information into spreadsheets, not to mention provide a reasonable amount of feedback for each athlete. As a result, athletes and parents never understand why they didn’t make the top team.
Today’s hockey coach software offers solutions to streamline even the most intricate tasks. When evaluators score players using the SkillShark App, it simplifies the entire evaluation process for the coach. This modern approach means that young athletes can receive their performance report cards before they even have their skates off. Instead of spending days on data entry, coaches can invest their time in analyzing data and providing feedback using pre-generated reports!
Moreover, parents can have a clear understanding of what their child needs to work on to be considered for next year’s top team. It’s a win-win situation made possible through the use of cutting-edge ice hockey apps like SkillShark.
What Is the Best Way to Deal With Common Evaluation Issues?
Evaluations can be complex and come with many hurdles. We have discovered a large amount of these complexities can be solved by eliminating the use of paper and spreadsheets during evaluations. Not only do pen-and-paper evaluations waste hours of time, but at the end of it all, very little is done with data and very little feedback is provided to athletes.
For the past 10 years, we have developed a hockey player evaluation app to take away the pains that many coaches experience during evaluations. It’s amazing to think that coaches can now view instant rankings, compare players, and even track their player’s progression over time.
The Link Between Software and Player Evaluation
Player evaluations are indispensable in sports, and today’s technology has transformed how we approach them. Firstly, utilizing ice hockey apps, such as SkillShark, can simplify the player evaluation process, making team selection more efficient.
Secondly, coaches can track their players’ skill progression over a series of evaluations and integrate the proper drills into practices that will enhance players’ abilities.
Lastly, individual feedback provided to athletes through hockey coaching software can serve as the foundation for players to concentrate on their individual development. This holistic approach benefits the team and empowers each player to grow and thrive.
How Can Coaches Evaluate Youth Hockey Players?
When evaluating youth hockey players, ensure you design an evaluation template that will test the right skills, such as skating, shooting, game sense, and passing. Secondly, take proper measures to eliminate evaluator bias and ensure that the skills being assessed are clear to your evaluators for accurate scoring. Some coaches even create a hockey practice plan for their athletes within the software.
8 tips for conducting hockey evaluations:
Ensure skills being assessed are clear to evaluators. For example “agility” could mean different things to different people.
Use a mobile evaluation app as opposed to pen and paper. This ensures easy and accurate evaluations of athletes.
Make sure you understand how many stations will be required.
Know how much time each evaluator will need to measure athletes at each station.
Use evaluation software to help eliminate the evaluator bias. Evaluation software, such as SkillShark, will help eliminate evaluator bias by using normalized data.
Ensure you architect an evaluation that will test the right skills.
Use the player data that you collect. The data from your evaluations will provide invaluable insights, that can be used to strategize at every practice and game.
Hockey Tryout Evaluation Template
A hockey tryout evaluation template is one of the most important pieces to get right during an evaluation. You will generally have two main categories, positional and goalie, to identify your players. Under each category, decide exactly what skills will be measured (this is fully customizable by your organization). Shown below are passing, skating, character, vision and shooting skills.
Above is a pre-built template taken from SkillShark. Coaches can easily edit this template to evaluate any skill and metric most important to them when evaluating youth hockey players. Within each skill, coaches can determine exactly what metrics will be measured.
Steps to Ensure a Smooth Evaluation Process
As coaches, we know the importance of planning out everything we do, and a good hockey evaluation or hockey practice plan is no different. The key things every organization should know well in advance of an evaluation are:
A.How do I assign numbers to each player?
Pre-assign numbers (i.e., 1-100) and have players come prepared with that number pinned to a shirt or written on their leg. Using hockey tape to create numbers usually does not work well as the tape falls off leaving no way to identify them. Before the evaluation, make sure you have uni-sized numbered bibs and pre-assign them to your players.
Hand out a unique-sized bib/number upon arrival at the event. This requires a registration station where someone records the number/color of the bib provided and records it on the website.
B. How many evaluators should I have at each station?
If measuring objective data (i.e., puck handling, skating times, etc.) you may only need one evaluator, but if you are measuring subjective data on athletes, you will want to have 2-3 evaluators on that station.
C. How much time will the evaluators require to accurately measure the performance of each athlete?
Knowing how long players need to spend at each station is important to ensure scores are not missed, and that both kids and evaluators have enough time to ensure accuracy.
D. With the method that I plan to run each drill, will the evaluators have enough time to record a score, and then see the next athlete fully?
People running the drills should communicate with the evaluators to get the right cadence. However, using SkillShark’s evaluation software, evaluators can quickly enter scores using their mobile devices or tablets, giving them enough time to enter data accurately.
E. Is there a reliable network connection at the location of the event?
SkillShark works in both online and offline mode. If you’re concerned about the network, simply download and open the app ahead of time. This will sync your evaluation before you leave the house and have evaluators do the same. You will then be able to easily gather and sync data to the SkillShark website when you get home.
Sample Hockey Evaluation Process Example
The following example we will show consists of the criteria below:
This group is for U11 kids.
There are 90 athletes in this age group.
To keep things simple, we will not focus on evaluating the goalies.
Only 30 skaters at a time will be allowed on the ice at one time.
6 teams are being formed.
Skaters will have 4 skating sessions, after each of which, will be sorted from best to worst to determine the top players.
1. Player Upload
The image below shows a simple player import using SkillShark evaluation software.
Before we import the players, we will use one of the four ‘Custom Fields’ SkillShark offers and call this the ‘Group’ that each athlete starts in (i.e., Day 1, Group A, B, and C). We will make sure to data map this field to Custom Label #1 when we import.
*This can then be exported as a spreadsheet and re-imported when all players are added.
Here is an example of how to use custom fields below:
Once the import is complete, we now need to take these 3 sets of kids (Day 1, Group A, B and C) and assign each to their own list. Assigning players to ‘Lists’ allows evaluators to quickly filter their view to only see the group they are assigned.
Above is an example of how player lists can be used to segment athletes. Evaluators will have the ability to score athletes by groups rather than using one large master list for evaluations, which can get confusing to use.
The difference between teams and lists
Here are some key basics to understand about each of these terms:
Teams vs lists
Teams represent the final team the athlete will play on.
Lists are used by the evaluators to help filter athletes for easy scoring on the day of evaluations.
Players can be assigned to one or multiple lists.
2. Event Creation
Now we head to the events screen and we create 4 events to represent each of the 4 skating sessions for the duration of the camp.
Because we have tagged the athletes to “Lists”, each evaluator can choose to filter their view of which group (A, B or C) they are about to evaluate. As well as the specific skill they are about to focus on (e.g., skating)
3. Assigning Jersey Colors and Numbers
When players are uploaded into SkillShark, a jersey number and colour will automatically be assigned if this information is not provided beforehand.
Coaches can easily update player jerseys in bulk by colour and number. If needing to manually assign each kid a new number independently, you can easily do this at any time in the software.
4. Assign Players to Teams
It’s easy to assign players to teams by using the data collected from your evaluation. You can then easily export and import teams from team management software like SportsEngine or TeamSnap directly to SkillShark if desired.
Trade in the player evaluation forms for the SkillShark app. Evaluate players from any mobile device or tablet, and save over 50+ hours by eliminating the need for data entry into spreadsheets.
Easily upload players & create teams
Use a built-in stopwatch for timed skates
View instant evaluation results
Hockey Evaluations Made Easy
Did you know, you can now trade in the player evaluation forms and use the SkillShark app?
Evaluate hockey players from any mobile device or tablet. Save over 50+ hours by eliminating the need for data entry into spreadsheets.
Instant player report cards
Enhanced evaluations with video
Want to learn more?
Find out how SkillShark can help you seamlessly conduct your next hockey evaluation.
Explore how SkillShark has transformed careers and organizations through real-life success stories. Join our community and start simplifying your hockey evaluations today.
In the past, we used pen & paper to evaluate athletes. This process was messy and made it so challenging to compile all the data. Now that we use SkillShark, we have streamlined everything, and immediately know who our top picks are for the upcoming season.
Youth Hockey Coach
We have 1000 kids, 87 different sessions, and close to 100 hours of evaluations that take place. I wouldn’t even be able to calculate the time SkillShark has saved us. Evaluators find it easy, coaches are happy, and I now have concrete data that I can show a parent if questions come up. It’s a great program.
Technical Director, PA Minor Hockey
“It was easy to use on our smart phone or tablet, very simple to train our evaluators, and we really like how parents had their kids results as soon as they stepped off the ice.”
Hockey Director, Chicago
FAQ — Evaluating Youth Hockey Players
Coaches often encounter several challenges during the evaluation process, including:
• Lack of formal feedback for athletes after evaluations.
• Time-consuming data entry into spreadsheets.
• Parent dissatisfaction with placement decisions and a lack of information on player development needs.
Modern technology, like the SkillShark App simplifies player evaluations by providing instant performance report cards to young athletes. Parents can also gain insights into their child’s development needs.
Youth hockey players should be evaluated on criteria such as physicality, technical skills, hockey sense, knowledge, adaptability, attitude, and teamwork.
Here are some tips for conducting effective hockey player evaluations:
• Incorporate game-like situations into evaluations.
• Collect data during the evaluation rather than relying on memory.
• Use a mobile evaluation app instead of pen and paper for accurate assessments.
• Ensure that skills being assessed are clearly defined.
• Establish a smooth check-in process for evaluators, players, and volunteers.
• Plan the number of stations required and the time needed for each station.
• Use evaluation software or ice hockey apps to eliminate evaluator bias.
• Design evaluations that test the right skills.
• Utilize player data collected during evaluations for practice and game strategies.
SkillShark streamlines the player evaluation process by allowing coaches to upload players, create teams, access pre-filled evaluation templates, and view instant evaluation results in report format.
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.
Create an evaluation template well ahead of the tryouts. Hockey players should be evaluated on their skating, puck skills, shooting, work ethic, and dexterity.
A practice plan is crucial for skill development, team cohesion, fitness, and strategic gameplay. It ensures players grow both individually and as a team.
Focus on fundamental skills like skating, shooting, passing, incorporate team-building exercises, fitness drills, and strategic gameplay elements.
As an engineer from the UofS, I’ve spent 30 years focused on optimizing industrial processes like mines or manufacturing facilities… combine that with my love of playing or coaching competitive softball the majority of my life, that’s where I saw the need for SkillShark.
I took over the U18 Softball program in 2016 and saw the evaluation process was archaic and the way gathered data that was being used to decide team placement could be vastly improved.