Tryout Letter

ACFYHA - Parent Tryout Communication

Dear 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 wracking and potentially upsetting experience for all! This letter attempts to explain the ACFYHA tryout process and provide 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 (8U, 10U, 12U, 14U)
  • 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

Player Tryout FAQ’s

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


1.  How many tryout sessions will there be?

There will be 2 tryout sessions for each level.


2.  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.


3.  Does my skater need to participate in the tryout process?

If your child wants 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 must participate in both tryout sessions to be considered for one of the travel teams. Players wanting to continue with ACFYHA’s House programs ARE NOT required to attend any tryout sessions. 


4. Is my child guaranteed to make the same team, or higher, than the one they participated on during the prior season?

Placement on a specific team is not guaranteed. All children wishing to participate on a travel team are required to participate in the tryout process. As stated above, the goal of the tryout process is to place the participants on the appropriate level team in order to maximize their opportunity to further develop their hockey skills. Depending on the skill level of those that participate in tryouts, it is possible that a child that played on an A level team the prior year is placed on the A1 team at the same level for the upcoming season (or A1 to B). These decisions are made in the best interest of the child’s development as well as what is best for each team.


5. Who will do the evaluations?

There are several key groups involved in the evaluations:

  • On-ice coaches to take players through the session.
  • Goaltenders will be evaluated by an outside group that specializes in goalie coaching and evaluation.
  • Off-ice evaluators who will be responsible for evaluating every player on the ice during the time allotted. Evaluators from outside the ACFYHA program may also be used to supplement the ACFYHA evaluators. 
  • On-ice evaluators may also be utilized and may provide feedback related to coachability and attitude during tryout sessions.
  • Off-ice administrators who will be responsible for collating evaluations and presenting to the Tryout Committee for review and placement of players who will then present roster numbers to the ACFYHA Board for approval.


6. What is being evaluated?

Refer to the section on Player Selection Criteria for more information on specific skills, tactics and behaviors that are being evaluated. This section gives an outline of what is being evaluated each session.


7. 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 in but may be asked to play a different position to give the evaluators an understanding of their overall game knowledge and on-ice awareness.


8. Will prior season evaluation information be used?

The tryout process will include prior season assessments and feedback from the prior year’s coaches if available. 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, may be used as a factor in final player placement.
  • 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.


9. 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 2 sessions.


10. 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 following the 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 or Mites).

  • 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 is 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 (if applicable) - 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.

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:

  • Always stay positive with your child.
  • Stay away from the glass during tryouts. Parents and bystanders should not stand along the glass. Please sit in the bleachers during the tryouts. Violation of this rule may result in a parent being asked to leave the rink for the remainder of the session.
  • Sideline coaching by the parents during the tryouts or outward yelling will not be tolerated and may result in removal from the tryout session. Your player needs to remain focused and attentive to the instructors at all times.
  • Please do not count shots that each goalie gets or time how long your child is involved in a specific drill or scrimmage.
  • 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

We hope the information above provided some clarity regarding the tryout process at ACFYHA. If you have any further tryout or team placement questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Coaching Director or a member of the ACFYHA Board of Directors. 

We look forward to a fun and successful hockey season!

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