Why Didn’t My Kid Make the Team?

A player may not make a specific team he or she is trying out for due to many things. Experienced hockey director and coach Angelo Ricci shares many of the reasons he has encountered over the years.

  • Skill set: Your player is quite simply not ready for the specific level he or she is trying out for. Can your player skate at this level? Can your player pass, handle and shoot the puck at this level?
  • Maturity: The maturity of players can sometimes factor into the selection process. Is this player a first or second year?
  • Fit: Some coaches look for a specific type of player, role or skill set when determining their roster. How will that player fit with the chemistry of the team?
  • Hockey sense: A big concern for many coaches is “hockey sense” or “hockey smarts.” Does your player understand, think and read the game? This aspect of his or her game can be a major factor in determining if player child makes the team.
  • Development: A coach can sometimes weigh the option if a player might be better off playing on the team at the lower level then what they are trying out for. This will sometimes allow the player to be a top-line player instead of the ninth forward or sixth defenseman for the higher-level team. This will allow that player to develop and see more ice time in critical situations of the game.
  • Parents: This does not happen too often, but I have seen it with a few coaches and parents over the years. What are the player’s parents like? Will they be an issue all season? Are they high maintenance? Do they get in the ear of other parents and try to get on their side if they don’t like the way their child is being coached or handled? I can tell you a bad parent or parent group can ruin the season for the players and staff. No matter if your team is in first place or last place, the season will be a success if your player develops, has fun and the parents get along—rather than form cliques and small groups of “negativity.” It’s a game…enjoy it!

These are some of the reasons on why your player did not make the team. I do believe it is imperative that a coach has great communication skills; it is the key ingredient for a coach when tough decisions are made. I believe each coach should have an exit interview or at least provide some feedback on why your player did not make the team.

To be totally honest, yes, coaches make mistakes. There is no exact science. It is not because the evaluators (coaches) did not give each player a good, honest look. Players do develop differently and at different points during the season.

This is a great, fun game. So please allow situations like this to be a life lesson for your player. We all get cut, we all get fired. We are all told at some point in our lives that our services are no longer needed. Sports are a microcosm of life—life will go on if your player did not make the team. Let your player enjoy the game and play at a level that will allow him or her to flourish and want to play again next season.

Editor’s Note: Thank you to Angelo Ricci for sharing his 15 years of expertise as a hockey director in this article. Ricci is founder, head instructor and consultant for Ricci Hockey Consulting. With 20+ years experience as a skills and stickhandling coach, he conducts/oversees more than 40 programs year-round that develop over 1,000 players each year.

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