Player evaluation can be one of the most difficult tasks for a Minor Hockey Association to deal with. It can also be the foundation for which an association is built upon. In most cases, player evaluation is used to place players onto teams. An important aspect that is missing in many cases is that most Minor Hockey Associations do not use player evaluations as a tool for coaches to develop players based on their individual strengths and weaknesses.
Placing players on teams is one thing, but what you do with those players once the teams are formed is another. Many Canadian communities only have enough players for one team in each age category, others have many teams in each age category, thus tiering occurs. Whether you have one team or multiple teams in each category, player evaluation can still be used, and should still be used as a way of developing players.
“When we talk about minor hockey and development I think it’s tough to really say it’s fair to build a team with the sole intention of winning… A lot of coaches feel the pressure to win, the competitiveness to win,” said Tyler Dietrich, Hockey Canada’s Manager, Hockey Operations, Analytics and Video Coach. “It is a tricky topic, it’s a very tricky situation. I think putting a team together, morally, you need to put the right team together with the right people and have an environment where everybody can develop and succeed and have fun in doing so.”
While nobody expects a team to go undefeated the entire season and losing is a part of the ups and downs of any year, no player wants to be on a team that struggles to keep a game within reach for the majority of the season. It’s about putting together a team together that balances both the short and long term development and growth of the group.
“If it’s a minor hockey team that’s going to be playing together year-round and possibly for several years together then the focus needs to shift into what that player might become and what their skillset will allow them to be. How can they develop and which environment do they need to be in to develop? Whether it’s a lower tier team or a higher tier or a rep team.”
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