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Preparing for Rep Hockey Try-Outs - Or Should I Say Birthday Skates?

March 09, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 141

Depending on the hockey organization you're involved in rep hockey try-outs either take place in the spring after hockey season ends or in late summer. It's a very exciting time for many players and families. There's a good chance that you're son or daughter has developed or improved their skills sets. They might be stronger, faster, bigger, more coordinated and ready to make the jump to the next level whatever that might be. As exciting as all of this is finding a rep team is a chore in itself. Why do you ask if there are hockey try-outs coming up?

In reality many of the rep hockey teams carry most of the same players throughout their minor hockey careers. Typically teams keep at least eight or nine of their core and replace the bottom six players (less or more) from their team. Great you say? When are try-outs we're ready. Well, not so fast. While there are spaces available coaches are quick to start their own recruiting process around late January for the following season. They scout other minor hockey teams, find players and invite them out to a skate. But wait a minute. If the players they find are registered with one organization how can they skate with a team from another organization for the following year? This is called a "Birthday Skate".

Birthday skates are against all hockey associations rules (as is player poaching) but don't fool yourself they happen all of the time. Why is it called a birthday skate? Many kids have their birthday parties at arenas with an hour of ice time and a party in a rented room afterwards. It's apparently easy to say "I wasn't trying out any kids for next year... really... it was only a birthday party". Players are given commitments through this method and the try-out becomes a mere matter of process rather than a "best man gets the job" competition. So how is this fair if the rules state that this can't happen? It's not fair. But so goes life and the many things that aren't.

Due to birthday skates there are maybe one or two spots, if any, available for a team on the day of try-outs. Many kids attend try-outs and in most cases parents that have made contact with a team prior and developed a rapport with the coaches are usually the ones whose kids make the teams regardless of skill level. My recommendations for try-outs and preparing your child to make the jump are simple.

  • Focus on your child's hockey skill development. At the end of the day no matter how political and corrupt the system may be no one can overlook pure talent. Many questions will arise if your child is clearly better but is not selected by a team.
  • Identify hockey organizations and teams that you're interested in and feel around for what team is looking for players. Make contact with the coaches and discuss the program. They may or may not tell you if there's room on their team. You will also get a sense if their try-outs are fair game.
  • If your child is as good as you believe he/she is they will attract interest on their own and may be invited to a "birthday skate". Attending one is purely up to you and I will not advise either way on this subject.
  • Often middle of the road to bottom teams are more open to new players than the top "winning" teams. This may be an option for your child to get a fair shot at making a team.

At the end of the day minor hockey is as political as it comes with many behind closed doors happenings. Your job as a hockey parent is to manage through the try-out process and guard your child from the negatives so he/she can enjoy and have an equal opportunity minor hockey experience.

Visit the Wonderful World of Minor Hockey for advice, musings and insights into the fun, exciting and often intense game of youth hockey.

Source: EzineArticles
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