Breakaway, the Minor Hockey Podcast: Player Evaluations

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Transparency, communication are just as important as what happens on the ice.

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The Coaches Site is proud to welcome the OMHA’s Breakaway, the Minor Hockey Podcast to our network of podcasts! Stay tuned for weekly episodes, as Aaron Wilbur and Ian Taylor sit down with the leaders of hockey to discuss everything from scoring more goals to how to grow the game from the minor hockey perspective.

With many Associations in the midst of the Evaluation Phase and the start of the regular season in sight, a key element of this phase is finalizing team selections.

Beginning with the Preparation Phase, players have been eased back into their return to the ice. With the conclusion of summer activities and with the start of school and hockey, this is a busy time for players and their families.

The preparation skates that occur before evaluations give players the chance to get their legs back under them while transitioning to the beginning of a new hockey season.  

“Now that the pressure and rush to competition is removed, it allows coaches to focus on their team, get into some team building and culture activities during the Development Phase following team selection,” said Michael Dundas, the OMHA’s Manager of Hockey Development. “They’re really creating a foundation for their season with this new format. It does allow players, coaches, associations to really settle into the season and not a rush of chaos.”

Another benefit of the pathways is that there are a minimum of three evaluation skates before a player can be reassigned. Association coaches should work together to provide consistent feedback and continuity through the Evaluation process.

“It’s crucial that the communication between coaches, especially those in the same age group is open and consistent and all the coaches know what each other is doing,” said co-host Ian Taylor. “There’s always a soft landing for the player who doesn’t make one team and is handed off to the other team. I think that can really ease that situation. I think that shows to the player and the parent that there is some continuity because you’re working together.”

Transparency remains the key – have a process and communicate it. This will help players and parents understand the expectations, and coaches can speak to those opportunities to provide feedback. While coaches look for different characteristics of players when building their team, there may be difficult decisions when finalizing team selection.

“It has to be clear, it has to be concise – be direct,” said Dundas. “You don’t have to have a fifteen minute conversation with the athlete. Provide feedback and the decision, but the conversation doesn’t have to end there. If you have questions, or you want to have another discussion, you have my contact info. Reach out, I will have that conversation. As a coach don’t shy away from it.”

Following team selection, players will enter Development Phase which provides teams the opportunity to practice together, engage in team building including exhibition games before the start of the regular season. The player pathway philosophies of ensuring preparation skates, evaluation phase and development phase all point towards ensuring a positive player experience for the season ahead.