Coaches are always looking for the best way to give helpful and efficient feedback to their players. Each sport is different and no two athletes are exactly the same, which is why it’s helpful to break down the ways to evaluate your players in the best way possible.
We’re focusing on hockey player evaluation right now, and seeing how there are a million different ways to evaluate any given hockey player, we’ll have to figure out a system.
It mostly breaks down into three main groups:
As a coach, you’ll know right away if the guy’s a player. Can he skate? Shoot? Use his body and get to the right areas on the ice? Is the player getting in the right positioning whenever possible? These are your physical attributes, the ones that you can see as the skater moves through drills or players in a game.
The physical side of the game can be dissected more than you think so it’s definitely helpful to narrow down the list to 5-10 categories which you are most focused on and keeping your eyes open for. After all, if your defensive prospect can’t skate backwards, well, he’s not much of a prospect.
Next comes the mental side of the game, and no we’re not talking about scoring on breakaway with only seconds left on the clock. This is more of how much of a leader this skater can be, if he takes into account what his coaches relay to him and whether he retaliates after not liking getting hit by an opposing player.
The mental traits which a player possesses are a massive part of hockey and figuring out which players are better suited as team captain and which are only looking to pick a bad fight will help to figure out where they all stand.
Finally, we have the intangibles. This involves attendance records, work ethic and behavior on the ice, and simply knowing what he can and can’t do with his given skill set. Listen, not every kid on your roster is the next “Great One”, but the really great players are the ones who have learned to hone the skills they were blessed with, and didn't try to get their names etched in the record books.
So there’s your system for breaking down and evaluating players, but why is it so important to make this evaluation?
The case can be made that any number of sports involve the most “heart” and are “truly team sports”, but hockey is in a league of its own. When any one player falters on the ice, it will cost the team dearly – all the way from the captain and starting goalie, down to the players on the fourth line.
When going over your roster of players, you need to know where each one stands in terms of their physical and mental attributes as well as what they’re going to give on the ice on a day to day basis. You need players who are tough as nails and graceful as figure skaters and making the proper evaluations will help you find that exceptional group.