How To Make The Ice Hockey Team

By: Jimmy Cox

This game is going into overtime, as many of your games will when the offense and defense have been about equal. The team that puts out that little extra in overtime will usually win, and the player who knows some little extras will certainly have a start in earning his place on the team.

You and Your Position

At team tryouts, most coaches will ask a player what position he prefers to play. Then as the team takes shape, some changes may have to be made. Maybe you started out as a center but are asked to switch to left wing. Your attitude is being tested. If you tell your coach that you will play any position he says and if you pitch in and try to learn all about playing left wing, you are hockey material!

If asked to switch positions, you should understand that, as you grow older, larger, and stronger, you develop certain hockey skills that may fit you better for a position other than the one you used to play. Also, in forming the team, your coach can see where your strong points best fit into the style of play he plans to use.

Besides, it is good for boys in their early playing days to get the experience of playing two or three different positions. You learn more about positional play this way; you also get training in the different skating techniques of wings, centers, or defensemen.

It might help you to have an idea of what a coach looks for in selecting players for the various positions.

GOALTENDER. A coach usually starts his search for a goalie by screening players on the basis of their quickness and their catching ability. To be quick, a boy must have good balance on skates first and fast reflexes next. Size is of no importance, provided the player has these assets.

DEFENSEMEN. Traditionally, the two defensemen were the big, heavy body checkers, who were the slowest skaters on the team. This is not true any more. Against modern power play offensives, these men have to be very mobile skaters, who handle the puck well. They also should be rugged and aggressive, with the ability to check hard.

WINGMEN. The right and the left wings are the workhorses of the offensive line. They must be fast, hard skaters since they will be called upon to do more straight ahead, stop-and-go skating than other players on the team.

CENTER. This man is the key to a good offense. He should have the knack of passing both accurately and at the right time. He should know the styles of his wingmen - what moves they like to make when breaking over the blue line or going around the opponent's net.

Above all, the center should be the production man of both goals and assists. He should have a good sense of position play and the ability to shoot quickly and straight.

A valuable skating skill for this position is the ability to whirl into fast turns either way with no loss of time. The center should be a figure in perpetual motion, skating, circling, breaking, and turning constantly.

Many coaches like to assign the chief job of fore checking to the center. He then must be able to check well before his opponents have a chance to break out of their own end.

A hockey coach faced with the job of picking a team once asked another coach how he would go about the task.

"I'd choose my goalie first and then pick the 18 best hockey players from the rest, regardless of what positions they played," the second coach replied.

"On what basis do I do that?" asked the first.

"Pick them on the basis of speed, desire, and hockey brains," answered the second, ably summarizing the most important qualities of an outstanding hockey player.

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