Travel Hockey Tryouts

1:53 PM

How travel hockey tryouts have changed throughout the years

In the past 10-15 years travel hockey tryouts and the overall organizations have went through quite a bit of changes. From the eyes of a seasoned hockey player, one who has gone through the way things used to be, who has experienced the devastation of getting cut from a team, may think the travel hockey tryouts of today's age are a bit of an upset. Being involved in the industry, we see little to no cuts, we see the creation of teams based on how many show up at the try out, and because of these decisions of the organizations, we see a lower caliber of play on the ice. But that is not all we see...

We see alot of happy kids being active, being involved in a team and we see a large number of kids participating in what we think is the greatest sport to play. The changes that have occurred over time have created more exposure to the sport then ever before. They have allowed for more players to be part of what was once called elite. The question we need to take away here is, can travel hockey still be considered elite?

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Historically, the northeast created an exclusivity to travel hockey tryouts as well as overall organizations. There were regulations on how many travel club teams could be started. They based their limitations on overall region as well as mile radius and distance from one another. The regulations that the league mandated in the past, created a set number of elite travel organizations. Only the best can play. Now, with their more lenient, democratic approach, we are left with a saturated industry. Expansion of the teams have left the talent on most teams sub par. They are accepted from the beginning, immediate gratification, without truly ever needing to work hard for it.

Purposely scheduling travel hockey tryouts at the same time, same day, creates pressure to decide on where you fit as a player, as well as to deter any team hopping. These days, teams are chosen and contracts are being signed on the first day of tryouts. Immediate placement on the team. We have to wonder why that is done, is in the best interest of the players or the coaches, or the integrity of the teams or is it in the best interest of the organization as a business?

In the days past, players seemed to be really trying out, they were nervous, they had to fight for it and the teams were filled by the third day of travel hockey tryouts. You either made it or you didnt. It sounds harsh, at least in today's gauge of parenting and raising children. But in the past, there were recreational or town leagues, there was a place for those players to go, a place to play and improve. Travel hockey tryouts would come around again the following year, and that player will fight for a spot on that team. The fight is not something you can teach a child who has never felt the rejection. Are today's players getting a false sense of reality? Im afraid that sometimes they are.

Unfortunately, there are not many recreational and town leagues to fall back on if they did make more cuts during travel hockey tryouts. Most families would just find another organization to sign them. Because of the influx in travel players, it has caused many 'rec' teams to fold, or have limited amount of teams and constantly struggle with the ever rising prices of ice. The travel teams have more money for ice, and who wouldnt want there child to have more exposure, more ice, a higher level of competition, and what they would hope, but is not always the case, better coaches.......

In closing, the organizations may be saturated and the skill level may not be where it once was, but being involved in the industry and watching as the changes occurred, I can also see and appreciate how much ice hockey has grown through these years. If we feel that the players are not at the caliber they once were, if we feel that the level of play is not good enough for travel hockey, then I believe that it is up to those involved in the ice hockey business to help make them better. Offering more clinics, camps, private lessons focusing on the the core aspects of skating, stick and puck handling and overall knowledge and understanding of the game is where we need to take these to players to the next level. 

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