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ABYHA Player Placement Process

The ABYHA Placement Process

As March arrives, so does the time for hockey placement evaluations. Without proper perspective, this may be an unnecessarily stressful time.

How will my child perform? How will he/she be evaluated? Will he/she make the team?

This article will hopefully shed some light on the placement process for all our ABYHA travel teams.

The first thing to know is that ABYHA does not cut anyone. Every child that participates in the tryout will be placed on a team for the Fall. 

Our tryout process is designed to place similarly skilled players together in order to provide an environment most conducive to improvement and fun.

The placement process happens over the course of the roughly 3 month period from March to Memorial Day. Everyone that has been through the process before is familiar with the on ice evaluations the program holds each year. In these sessions, we invite independent evaluators to come and score the players over a few sessions. In the Skills session, all the players complete a set of drills that are scored by the evaluators. Skaters are evaluated on skating ability and puck handling. In the Small Area session, small area games are set up to evaluate true hockey game skills. Players are evaluated on competitiveness, creativity, vision and hockey IQ. This year we are also adding a full ice game for the peewee, bantam, and midget levels.

What is not as commonly known is that these sessions are only one part of the placement process. If your child played in the ABYHA program this or any recent season, they were evaluated by their coach during the March time frame. Each coach is asked to score each player on a series of hockey attributes, and rank the players on the team. This is done by the head coach as well as all assistant coaches. 

At this point, we have a mountain of data on each player in the system. Some of this data is generated by someone who never saw your child before. Some of this data is generated by coaches that spent 7 months with your child. The data comes from many angles, and is very thorough. At this point we have an online application that crunches all this data for us, and ranks every skater in each division. This list is reviewed with a first pass by ABYHA to make sure there are no obvious errors. ABYHA has done this process for many years, and what we find is that this first pass is amazingly accurate.

Based on the number of players in each division, the list is divided to make as many teams as makes sense for the number of skaters. We call this Version 1.

Version 1, including the tryout raw data, is shared with the current year Head Coaches. There is detailed discussion at this meeting about the Version 1 list. Any disagreements are voiced, discussed, and finally decided. This becomes Version 2.

Version 2, not including raw tryout data, is shared at a general coaches meeting, with all the current coaches. We now have many more points of view, so any discrepancy missed so far is generally found. More discussion takes place, and if need be, changes are made. We are now at version 3 of the team list, and we consider this final. This is the list that is announced around Memorial Day.

It is important to note that coaches for next year’s teams have not been selected at this point. Only after the final Version 3 placement list is complete do discussions begin on who will be the coach.

As a parent on the outside of this process, there are a few tips to be shared.

If your child, who played in ABYHA this year, has an “off night" at evaluations, it will have very little effect on placement. As mentioned above, there are coaches who spent 7 months with your child, and their opinion will be heard.

The same is true of missing evaluations, but this is not an excuse to skip, nor is it a reason for any player to “mail it in” at evaluations. We are looking to see the best from every skater, and this is their chance to shine and show us what they have. Determination and attitude play a big part in this game, and a bad attitude at evaluations will be noticed.

Once team placements are announced, please remember that this process is not about making the best, super, winning team. This process is about putting your child in the best position for them to improve, and most importantly, have fun. A child placed inappropriately will not be happy, and will not improve as he/she should. We strive to create a love of the game, where your child can’t wait to get to the rink.

Remember, the team placements have been reviewed by no less than a dozen people, most of whom have played this game for many years, and at a high level. Your child was not missed or passed over.

If your child is a “bubble” player, meaning they are right on the line between 2 teams, consider the difference. If your child is in the bottom half in terms of skill for a team, he/she will touch the puck less, be less involved in the play, and struggle with confidence. “Playing up” does not produce better players. If your child is in the top half of skill on the team, they will be more involved in the play, touch the puck more, and gain confidence. Confidence is critical to this game at every level. If you rob your child of that early, it is very difficult to regain.

Lastly, we are revising our placement process for 2017-2018. We have stated that we are not allowing players to play on other hockey teams as well as ABYHA. It has been our experience that players cannot be committed to 2 teams, and therefore miss practice and games. In many cases the AB team is left short. Worse than that, those players are taking spots away from others who are more committed to the AB team. We feel very strongly about the USA Hockey Development Model we have adopted, and subscribe to the research that shows the appropriate amount of ice time a developing player should get. Research has shown that playing significantly more that the USA Hockey recommendations not only does not help develop a player, in most cases it is a detriment. We have seen many players "burn out" before they reach high school, therefore it is to everyone's benefit that we adopt this policy. 

We look forward to another successful season in 2018-19.