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How to Handle the Intense Pressure of Alberta Cup Tryouts

Carsen Twarynski STIX"STIX and Calgary Hitmen player Carsen Twarynski didn't make his Alberta Cup team and yet is on the NHL Draft Watch List this year"

Global Sport Academy - Alberta Cup Blog – Goal Setting

As a coach of many Bantam hockey players, whenever it’s the end of March I think of the upcoming pressures of the Alberta Cup tryouts and the corresponding WHL Entry Draft.  Many of the young student athletes we work with in Global are extremely driven individuals who have high expectations of themselves.  These characteristic traits are evident in most high-achieving people, but they can also lead to intense amounts of internal pressure, which could lead to mental health concerns.

Throughout a young hockey players life they’re taught individual skills like skating and puck handling, as well as team concepts such as breakouts, neutral zone regroups, etc.  In this way, many hockey players are ready for the pressures of the Alberta Cup tryouts.  However, we don’t spend much time at all teaching the mental skills required to remain healthy and happy during the journey.  The underlying way we can help do this is by changing the way we think about “goals”.

When we recently did an Alberta Cup Prep Camp players presentation we asked the participants to write down what their “goal” is.  Most of the young men in the room wrote, “make my Alberta Cup team”.  Although it is great they want to make the team, it doesn’t actually create a healthy way of thinking about the future.

Below is our Top 4 ways to set functional goals to allow for success during Alberta Cup tryouts.  It’s important that when the long term goal shifts from “making the NHL” to “learning how to become a great person who can tackle any challenge”, the reality shifts to goal setting that you can actually control.

1)    Play to your strengths as a player:

When you’re in Community Hockey evaluations in Peewee, the team selection committee is instructed to pick the Top 15 skilled players.  Once you reach the Alberta Cup tryouts and the WHL Entry Draft, teams and Organizations shift to look for the best players in the roles they play.  If you’re a big strong skater who likes the physical game, focus on finishing your hits.  In this situation you could make an Alberta Cup team without even getting a point during tryouts.  The same goes for defensive defensemen, energy players and tremendous leaders.  Make it your goal to play to your strengths.

2)    Be an unbelievable teammate:

This is something that our young student athletes should think about multiple times every game and practice, yet it’s hardly ever brought up by coaching staffs.  It’s so hard to become a player at the CHL or NCAA levels, but it’s those players with a great attitude who genuinely care about their teammates who are the ones that have a chance at Professional hockey.  Make it your goal to learn about your teammates and get to know them personally.  Most importantly, make it your goal to be there for them in the dressing room and on the bench.

3)    Have the mindset that adversity is a fun challenge:

Many high achieving young people are perfectionists.  Whenever your goal is perfection you’re bound to fail.  The first step in to avoid the frustrations tagged to a perfectionist personality is to learn to be aware and be in the moment.  When you get in the mindset where you’re slamming your stick, swearing on the ice or on the bench, or even getting really quiet and in your own head, you’ve lost the ability to be a good teammate or a tremendous leader.  Set your goal to become aware of both your own personality and tendencies, and to “catch” yourself handling a moment of adversity.  When this happens take a deep breath and remember tackling challenges are fun.

4)    Enjoy the experience and use it to make you better:

If you and your surrounding support system can change the goal from “making it” to “this experience is going to make me better”, amazing things will happen over the long term.  One of the most powerful quotes I read as a young coach was from John Wooden who said something like:

“Extraordinary people always strive for continual performance improvement”

As a group at Global we have close to 50 years of stories of young student athletes achieving their goals and “making it”.  There are dozens and dozens of these success stories where the student athlete we were working with didn’t make their Alberta Cup team, or didn’t get drafted during the WHL Entry Draft.  This is not the be-all-and-end-all.  The only way to ensure it’s a successful experience no matter what is to set the goal that whatever happens will make you better.

To find out more about the Global Sport Academy and STIX Hockey, please visit our website at:


Jeff Ovens

Partner & Director of Springbank Sports Academy

Global Sport Academy Group

C: 403-819-9747

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