What Hockey Coaches Look For in Tryouts

What Hockey Coaches Look For in Tryouts

Sports Performance

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.

Two hockey players on ice

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.

Wrapping Up

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.

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FAQ — What Hockey Coaches Look For

Coaches take into account first impressions, skating skills, attitude, hustle, coachability, leadership, character, and attention to detail.

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

• Have your equipment ready to go the night before.
• Find ice time to practice your drills.
• Watch YouTube videos for drill performance tips.
• Practice drills with friends (not just alone!).
• Prepare yourself mentally. Put things into perspective and be okay with mistakes happening.

Coaches look beyond skillset when selecting well-rounded players for the team. Actively listen to instructions, avoid arguing, respect others, and follow the rules.

Mentality is everything. Don’t fixate on the results, whether you will make the team or not, but focus on the process to get there.

Rather than thinking about team placement decisions before, during, and after tryouts, focus on practicing drills, actively listening to coaches, and demonstrating sportsmanship.


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.