Tips and tricks to help you be a better defense player.

5 Deal-Breakers For Scouts

If you want to play at the next level, you have to pay attention to the little details and avoid these five BIG deal-breakers.

After spending the past 10 years coaching players who aspire to play hockey at the college level, and speaking with the scouts and coaches who ultimately decide who makes the cut at that level, I know how much the little details of the game make a BIG difference. There is a huge tournament here in the Toronto area this weekend which will be crawling with scouts and watching the players’ every move on the ice.

If you want to play at the next level, you have to pay attention to the little details and avoid these five BIG deal-breakers. For those of you who have been a part of the Total Female Hockey community for a while, you’ve seen this message before. I send it out every year at this time. Everyone needs a gentle reminder of how BIG of a difference these little details can make when it comes to get to the next level.


1. Doesn’t Stop On Pucks

Every player has heard their coach tell them to stop and start. There is nothing worse than watching a player do a “fly-by” on their check and then do a big circle to recover back instead of stopping and starting. Whether it is after a turnover or while trying to angle your opponent, if you miss the puck or make a mistake, you have to stop and start instead of doing the big circle. It is so frustrating when players do it – and trust me when I say that all the coaches and scouts notice the “fly-bys”.

2. Disappears As Game/Tournament Goes On

Everyone is excited and energized for the first shift of the game and the first game of the tournament. But can you sustain it? It is great to be a rock-star at the start of the game and tournament, but if you are invisible in the third period or in the third game of the tournament, scouts will notice. You have to be consistent. It’s one of the hardest things for young players to learn, but it is absolutely critical if you want to get to the next level. Coaches want to know that you can deliver a consistent effort from shift-to-shift and game-to-game if they are going to even consider bringing you into their college program someday.

3. No Second Effort

This one is just painful to watch. We all make mistakes on the ice. We miss the puck, miss our check, miss the net and mishandle the puck. How do you react when you make that mistake? Some players give up when they mess up. And that’s a serious ‘red flag’ for every coach. It’s inevitable that you are going to make mistakes on the ice – but how will you recover from that mistake? A player who is unwilling to make the 2nd effort will not see the ice at the college level – if they even make it there in the first place.

4. Lazy Changes

This one is easy. You need to skate hard to the bench at the end of your shift and come off the bench like you’ve been shot out of a rocket to start your next shift. Lazy changes stick out like a sore thumb. Come out flying at the start of your shift and then work as hard as you can to change quickly so that your teammate can go out and get their job done.

5. Bad Body Language

Body language doesn’t lie. As I said above, you’re going to screw up out there. And so are your teammates. What will your body language say about the mistake you just made? Will you slam your stick on the ice? Will you shake your head or drop your shoulders? Will you slow down or speed up? Will you keep going full-out as if nothing ever happened? Bad body language is selfish and distracting. And it is a huge red flag for every coach and scout out there.

These 5 deal-breakers have NOTHING to do with elite level skill. These are all CHOICES. You simply DECIDE that you are going to pay attention to these details. Differentiate yourself from the crowd by deciding to always be the hardest working player on the ice. Period. Don’t give a scout a reason to cross your name off the list. Feel free to pass this along to any players, teammates or coaches who you think you might benefit from the information.

Work Hard. Dream BIG. Pay Attention To Details.

Your friend and coach,


PS – If you want a step-by-step guide I created specifically for girls hockey players to help you through the entire college hockey recruiting process

click on the link below:

Total Female Hockey

Kim McCullough, MSc, YCS

Director & Founder, Total Female Hockey



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