Arizona Rubber

Arizona’s and New Mexico’s Authoritative Voice of Ice and Inline Hockey

The Whyte Stuff: Tryouts – how to choose the right coach and association


We are once again in the midst of tryout season, where all players show their wares in hopes of having a coach determine they have what it takes.

The season has ended and families are calculating their options for the next year of competition in youth hockey. Arizona is different to many, in that any player can play for any association during any season. This “Wild West” approach to picking teams can be quite arduous for coaches, as well as players.

While in the process of determining which team/program to play for, there are many factors taken into consideration, such as cost, location, teammates, etc.

Without a doubt, when paying the money travel hockey incurs, the most important dynamics that must be addressed are coaches and program. It doesn’t matter what the teams before have done, nor does it matter if a team has been successful. What is at stake is that the player is put in the best possible situation at that given time.

I say this for many reasons, but the most important is that the child is not placed in a potential situation where they do not play, considered a backup, or not a main focus for the team. The other end of this spectrum would be where a player is not pushed or challenged enough to continue growth. There is a fine line here at both ends of the curve. It is OK to have your child be the weaker player on the team, as long as it motivates them and helps them strive to be better. There is also a place for a more formidable player to play down a level, if they need to experience a moral boost, or develop their leadership qualities.

I am not saying a player that truly deserves to play at a higher level and dominate needs to play down, as this has no benefit for anyone. Conversely, nor does a player that is struggling to keep up with the level of play the rest of the team has is suitable. My point is that if you are a lower-end AAA player, sometimes playing at the AA level is a good thing. I should know, as six of my players from the previous season at the AA level made AAA hockey this past year. Please realize that the opposite is true, too. Playing at the AAA level may be an ego boost now, but if they are not contributing and gaining actual game time experience because they are not the main focus of the coach, that can have an adverse effect as well.

To claim you must play for a program because they’ve had success is not necessarily a good thing. To say you must play for a particular coach is not a good thing either. A parent must weigh all options for their child, gathering all facts and determining what is the best scenario. This is a painful and argumentative decision that ultimately no one can foresee what the outcome may be.

At DYHA, we focus on the development of each and every child, not only as a player, but as a person. Although winning is paramount, it does not take precedence over growing and nurturing the individual. Hockey is our passion, and through this wonderful sport, we teach these young athletes the many life lessons that will assist them in dealing with all of what life throws at them.

DYHA coaches believe in the fundamental concepts that relate to hockey. Our focus revolves around team, family, brotherhood/sisterhood, accountability, attitude and effort. If you excel and/or exceed in these areas, not only will you be successful in hockey, but you will be successful in life, family, friends and business.

As a parent, please follow these simple guidelines. Be honest with the teams you try out for. Communicate with the coaches during tryouts. And don’t set your child up for failure.

Sean Whyte is the director of hockey operations and coach-in-chief at DYHA.

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