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ACFYHA - Parent Tryout Communication


Dear ACFYHA Parents,

One of the most difficult and stressful times during the hockey season is the tryout process…especially for parents!  Research has shown that kids in many cases handle the pressure of tryouts better than parents do, making this time of the season a particularly nerve racking and potentially upsetting experience for all!  This letter attempts to explain the tryout process for the ACFYHA Committee and provide candid and transparent answers to questions especially for those parents who have not been through this process before.


Objectives of Player Tryouts


  • To provide a fair and impartial assessment of a player's total hockey skills during skating, small area games and scrimmage sessions
  • To place players on the most appropriate team based on their level of skill, measured against their peer group, during on-ice evaluations while also factoring in feedback from previous coaches and certain hockey “intangibles” (e.g. work ethic, coachability, attitude, etc.)
  • To provide uniformity, consistency and transparency in the tryout process such that player and parent expectations are consistent from year to year as players move through the various levels of the Association's age groups (Mites, Squirts, PeeWee, Bantam & Midget)
  • To form teams that are competitive at each level and provide the best opportunity for all players to further develop their skills and to HAVE FUN playing hockey
  • To provide feedback to enhance the development of each hockey player within ACFYHA


Player Tryout FAQ’s


The following are frequently asked questions that hopefully will help build greater understanding and transparency of how the process works:


  1. How many tryout sessions will there be?

There will be 3 tryout sessions for each level. 


  1. Why do we have tryouts?

ACFYHA conducts tryout sessions to provide player assessments each season and to place players on travel teams.  There are enough players to have multiple teams at each level and they are divided per ability to maximize the potential for each player and each team to improve and have a successful season. The goal of ACFYHA is to provide the best opportunity for all players to further develop their hockey skills.


  1. Why does my skater need to participate if they are not trying to play at the highest A-team level?

If you and your child want to play travel hockey, then attending tryouts is required so that your child can be properly evaluated against his/her peer group and placed on the appropriate level team to maximize your child’s opportunity to further develop their hockey skills. Players wanting to continue with ACFYHA’s House programs ARE NOT required to attend any tryout sessions.


  1. If my son/daughter was on a team other than the A team last season, will that mean they automatically make the A team at the same level in the coming season?

Only returning A players are guaranteed placement on the A team.  The tryout format is to compare and assess all players and their abilities to be competitive at the A level.  If there are first year players whose abilities and behaviors are more conducive to compete and be successful at the A level, those players will be chosen to participate at the A level regardless if there are 2nd year players trying out.  Players will not be moved down within the age group, but may remain at the same level (i.e. a player that played SQA1 as a first-year squirt, may play A1 as a second-year squirt.)


  1. Who will do the evaluations?

There are 3 key groups involved in the evaluations:

  • On-ice coaches to take players through the session – 5 on-ice instructors per session
    • ProCrease will attend all sessions to evaluate Goaltenders
  • Off-ice evaluators who will be responsible to evaluate every player on the ice during the time allotted. There may be on-ice evaluators depending on the situation
  • Off-ice administrators who will be responsible for collating evaluations and presenting to the ACFYHA Board


  1. What is being evaluated?

Refer to the section on Player Selection Criteria (pages 3-4) for more information on specific skills, tactics and behaviors that are being evaluated.  This section gives a clear outline of what is being evaluated each session.


  1. Will the player be evaluated in a skill and game environment?

To give every player a fair opportunity to exhibit the range of skills that they possess they will be evaluated within skill stations, small area games, and full ice scrimmage environments.  At the younger age levels a greater emphasis will be placed on the evaluation of skills - as the players get older the small area game and scrimmage sessions will have a greater overall impact on the player’s placement.  Your son/daughter will have the chance to tryout in the position they are most comfortable but may be asked to play a different position to give the evaluators an understanding of their overall game knowledge and on-ice awareness.


  1. Will the prior season evaluation information be used?

The tryout process will include prior season assessments and feedback from the prior year’s coaches.   Players will be selected based on not only individual skills but several intangible traits.  These traits are as follows:

  • Attendance & commitment
    • A player’s commitment, as specified by his or her previous seasons’ coaches, will be used as a critical factor in final player placement.  A player’s commitment to the program and more specifically, their team, will not be over-looked or taken for granted
  • Attitude & Behavior
  • Determination, drive, intensity, work ethic
  • Discipline
  • Positive team player
  • Coachability
  • Hockey is a team sport and individuals with stronger skills but who are selfish can often be counterproductive to achieving team goals and upset team chemistry.  Hockey is a long season and the right team chemistry (on and off the ice) is crucial to a successful program.  The Association will keep this in mind when making team selections.


  1. When will player “cuts” be made during tryout week?

Cuts will not be made during any night of the tryout process.  All players will have equal ice time to showcase their skills during the 3 sessions.


  1. What happens after the evaluation sessions, how are the players notified of their final standing?

Players will not be informed at the rink but via the ACFYHA website on the Friday evening following their last tryout session.  Specific timeframes of when each level roster is posted to the website will be communicated by the Association Board. 

Teams & Team Composition


Team Composition and size will be directly related to tryout registration and final commitment numbers. The ACFYHA Board of Directors reserves the right to increase or decrease the number of travel teams based on the number of players possessing the necessary skills to play travel hockey and the number of actual commitments received following the completion of tryouts.


Player Selection Criteria


General Overview of the Skills to Play the Game


Skating - Acceleration, speed, mobility, agility, balance, stride, crossovers, pivots/transitions, acceleration out of turns, quick feet, controlled skating, change of pace.

  • Can the player perform the basic forward and backward stride?
  • Are the players knees well bent with the back slightly forward and the head up, or is the player hunched over, bending at the waist with little knee bend?
  • Good skaters will use long strides with a complete recovery of the stride leg before striding with the other leg.  Their strides will look very smooth and appear not to require much effort to move around the ice
  • Does the player look smooth when they skate or do they appear off balance?
  • Can the player turn in both directions with little trouble or do they struggle to turn in one or both directions?
  • Can the player stop in both directions?  Younger players will often have trouble stopping in one direction.
  • Can the player keep up with the play or do they struggle to stay with the other players on the ice?


Passing - Passing, receiving, passing choices, on backhand, unselfish with the puck, presents a good target, receives and retains with control, touch passing.

  • Does the player have the basic skills to execute a forehand pass?
  • When the player passes the puck do they slap at it or is the motion smooth with the player following through to the intended target?
  • Can the player pass the puck to its intended target with minimal effort?
  • Can the player make an accurate pass to a moving target?
  • Can the player receive a pass on their backhand or do they tend to shift their body to receive the pass on the forehand?
  • Can the player pass the puck off the backhand with some speed and accuracy?
  • Does the player call for the puck vs. banging their stick on the ice or saying nothing at all?
  • Does the player passing the puck make eye contact with the intended receiver or do they just pass the puck blindly?
  • Can the player execute a saucer pass over sticks and other obstacles?
  • Can the player pass the puck off the boards to another player?


Puck Control - Head ups, smooth and quiet, good hands, protection in small spaces and in traffic.

  • Is the player foundationally ready to handle/carry the puck using a hockey stance with hands away from the body?
  • Does the player appear to be comfortable handling the puck while skating or do they appear to fight the puck and have trouble skating with some speed while handling it?
  • Can the player keep his/her head up while carrying the puck?
  • Can they execute dekes and fakes with the puck?
  • Can they stop quickly or change direction while handling the puck?
  • Can the player continue to handle the puck while in traffic and under pressure?
  • Does the player get pushed or checked off the puck easily?


Shooting - Power, accuracy, quick release, can shoot in motion, goal scorer, rebound control, variety of shots wrist shot, snapshot, backhand, slapshot (not applicable for Squirts).

  • Does the player exhibit balance within the shooting motion?
  • Can the player execute the technique of a wrist shot and backhand (weight shift)?
  • Does the player follow through to the target on all shots?
  • Can the player raise the puck?
  • Is the puck shot with some velocity?
  • Does the puck sit flat in the air or does it wobble?
  • Can the player execute a one-time shot?
  • Is the player accurate when shooting?


Positional Play - Ability to see the play developing both offensively and defensively and moves to support, judgment, anticipation, understands position, disciplined.

  • Does the player seem to understand where he/she are to play on the ice?
  • Do they support the puck in defensive and offensive situations?
  • Does the player show patience or do they tend to panic when pressured?
  • Do they protect the mid lane and force opposing players inside out?
  • Can the player angle another player off the puck?
  • Does the player force the play or do they wait too long?


Checking Concepts - Angling, good body position with balance and control, defensive side position, aggressive checker, strength, receiving checks.

  • Can the player execute basic stick and body checks?
  • Does the player understand angling and how to effectively angle an opposing player?
  • Does the player check properly with their hands down or do they get their arms up to give a check?
  • Can the player receive a check properly, not turning their back and staying close to the boards?
  • Can the player check an opposing player and pin them on the boards?
  • Does the player shy away from other players?


Goaltending – Balance, mobility, quickness, low shots, rebound control, proper angles, post play, stick control, reaction, butterfly, posture, flexibility and concentration


Squirt Tryout Session #1 – Foundation & Intermediate

General Objective

Skating and Puck Control Skill Evaluation


Specific Skills Being Evaluated

Foundational – Stride/Recovery, Edges, Balance



Forward & Backward Skating

 Skating with Puck


Stationary Passing & Pass Receiving



Warm-Up/Explanation & Drill Set Up

Stretch & Skate

10 Minutes

6 Stations

1.  Forwards & Backwards Skating

30 Minutes  
5 min. per Station


2.  Skating with Puck


3.  Passing & Receiving

4.  Stops/Starts/Hockey Turns

5.  Shooting stationary

6.  Shooting in motion

Small Area Games

Small Area Games (2 stations)

20 Minutes

10 min. each



Squirt Tryout Session #2 – Advanced

General Objective

Individual Tactics & Teammate Support


Specific Skills Being Evaluated

Tight Turns & Transitions

Passing & Receiving Pass 


Agility/Acceleration with Puck

 Skating with Puck


Small Area Awareness & Creativity



Warm-Up/Explanation & Drill Set Up

Stretch & Skate

10 Minutes

4 Stations

1.  Tight Turns, Crossover, Transitions

20 Minutes  
5 min. per Station


2.  Agility Skate with Puck


3.  Passing/Receiving/Shooting - In Motion

4.  1 v 1, 2 v 2

Small Area Games & Scrimmage

2 v 2 and 3 v 3 Cross Ice - 3 zones

30 Minutes


Half Ice 5 v 5 (2 games)

15 min. each



Squirt Tryout Session #3 - Scrimmage

General Objective

Scrimmage - Full Ice



General Game Understanding



Participation - Does the player participate to influence the outcome in all aspects of the game?


Parent Commitment


As we have said, tryouts are a very stressful time for both players and parents.  Since your child will be busy working on the ice during this time, we ask that you please commit to follow these simple rules during tryouts:


  • Stay positive with your child always
  • Stay away from the glass during tryouts.  Parents and bystanders should not stand along the glass. Please sit in the bleachers during the tryouts
  • Sideline coaching by the parents during the tryouts or outward yelling will not be tolerated.  Your player needs to remain focused and attentive to the instructors always
  • Stay focused on the big picture and trust that our goal is to put every child into the best opportunity for them to succeed
  • Stay away from talking about other players or comparing your child to other children. This can only cause negative or hurt feelings
  • Stay with the program and help your child have a great year!


Commitment to the ACFYHA


Once tryouts are concluded and teams are chosen, parents and players need to make their commitment to their respective teams.  The Player Commitment Form can be found on the ACFYHA website.




Coaching announcements for all travel teams will be communicated prior to the commitment deadline.


Closing Remarks


The purpose of this information sheet is to improve transparency and provide assurance regarding fairness and consistency in the team selection process.  If you have any further tryout or team placement questions, please do not hesitate to contact the appropriate Coaching Director or a member of the ACFYHA Board of Directors. 


We look forward to a fun and successful hockey season!