Tryout or Development Opportunity?

Chaos, stress and uncertainty offer opportunities.

For athletes, trying out for a competitive team in a new association can be a frightening experience.

Where are my friends?

Where is the coach I had last year?

I don’t  know this new coach?

I wonder if she will like me?

How can I stand out so that those people with clipboards will notice me?

I have had enough, I just want to go home!

Not nice…

I have been part of and watched “tryouts” from Novice to Senior Team Canada.

Tryouts are stressful on both elite – “best of the best” type players, and those just trying to break in to see what all the fuss is about.

Several years ago, I put together a “pre-tryout” ice workout for players considering a Regional AAA All-Star team. I was amazed when 25 players signed up. It was led by former AAA players, and we provided a “coaching” session after the workout to help aspiring AAA players cope with, and prepare for, the tryouts.

I noticed a market that I had not seen before.

Additional evidence is offered by the 2010 “La Releve”  event, run by Ringette Canada. All the Canada Winter Games teams from across the country were invited to Ottawa for a “training camp / tryout.” Some teams / Provinces brought enough for two provincial teams, while others brought just their final roster.

Players from all teams were brought together for “common” topics: working with the media, nutrition and hydration, fitness testing and socials.

While teams used the occasion to make their final cuts, Ringette Canada used it to reach the next generation of ringette athletes who would represent Canada at international events.

The Government of Ontario offers funding for training camps where athletes come together, compete and develop.

Ringette Alberta uses a series of training camps and tryouts to select its Canada Winter Games teams. The belief is that they want to reach many athletes through the process, educate them, train them and select those athletes most deserving. In fact, for the 2011 Canada Games, Alberta carried a roster of 30 players.

With the official ringette team comprising 18, Ringette Alberta was carrying extra players.

It is about “Development.”

Ringette experts I have spoken with across Canada support the merging of tryouts and training camps to market ringette programs, develop athletes, and pick a solid team.

I have heard a ringette player say that she learned so much in the tryout, because we told her what we expected and what skills we were assessing.

We use tryouts to pick the best, but they also serve to educate others we release.

Some regions in Ontario are experimenting with regional tryouts, with a view to both develop and select.

This a trend that will serve both athletes and the sport as a whole.

We need to move tryouts from athlete nightmares to development dreams realized.

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