With less than one month to prepare for the start of Spring hockey tryouts; there is often a lot of confusion and uncertainty with parents and players (especially those new to Spring hockey) as to which team they will be trying out for.
Here are a few things to consider over the next few weeks.
1. If your child played on a team last year and had a positive experience; also if the bulk of the parents got along great then it would be a no-brainer but to continue with the same team. The Spring season is about positive development, part of this is about good people being surrounded by other good people in a positive environment.
It would be a good idea to maybe check and see how many players will be returning to the team, this may help you make an informed decision. Keep in mind the team name really doesn’t matter (there is no element of prestige from one team to the next)… it is the cohesion between the players, Coaches and (yes) most importantly the parents that leads to success of a team & season.
2. If you are new to Spring hockey, just pick a team to tryout for. Consider the following when you are deciding:
a. How far away are the practices? Travel time is huge in Spring hockey and this needs to be factored in.
b. How much will it all cost?
You can fire off an email to the coach/owner and ask what the average fees are and what the players paid last year. Ask questions & be sure to let them know you and your child are thinking about coming to the tryout and you are looking at finances.
Think too about the travel time, fuel, food… and if you have other children who will be tagging along; I can tell you from experience that they will want snacks as well!
3. If your child is really looking to maximize their season and both you and your child figure he/she can compete at the elite levels of Spring hockey (there are gold, silver or aaa, aa divisions in most Spring tournaments) then start with a search for the top tournament teams from last year.
Go to the tournament web pages and follow the standings for the last year or so, you will see which teams (under which coaches) placed in the top and which organizations frequent a particular tournament. This can be a start to see which clubs compete in which division.
This is however a bit of a gamble as you never know which top level players are coming back or if that particular Coach is running that team again, however you will see trends as to where teams compete.
Now I know you are thinking that everyone would end up at a few particular tryouts, this is never the case though, cost and travel are major factors. Do your research to see where a team typically travels to & how many tournaments/exhibition games they attend. I have met parents that chose a particular team because they practiced local and did one local tournament. This made sense to them and their lifestyle.
There are many Spring teams; and they all cater to produce a roster with dedicated players wanting to play high caliber hockey.
I cannot stress enough the importance of the player development in this short season. There are few to no scouts coming to these tournaments & games. Winter league is how a player moves ahead in the elite hockey stream; forget any line a team owner throws at you about so and so watching players at a Spring event. While this may occasionally happen it is Winter league play that puts a player on the radar for an elite team and/or a scholarship.
Spring hockey is for development of the player to help advance in Winter play, choose a team that fits your financial ability and blends in with your commitment level. Your child should be having fun while honing his or her skill set. Positive development is the key here, not the fancy jersey or the number of travel tournaments.
Good luck with tryouts!