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Increase Your Chances Of Being Scouted In Hockey (How To Change The Way NCAA/Pro Scouts See You)

Listen to me talk you through the blog here 👇

In the hockey world, you will so often hear coaches say:

“Know your role.”

”Do your job.”

“Play your game.”

These sayings are constantly barked at players by their coaches.

But for most players, these words are completely empty.

And if players don’t understand the significance behind these statements because they are empty.

They will fail to make the right changes in their training and their game IN TIME.

In this Identity Letter I am going to:

  1. Breakdown why I think players and parents are not getting the clarity needed to increase their chances of getting scouted

  2. Breakdown how scouts and coaches at the next level typically think about you (and why it matters)

  3. Introduce you to the Hockey Identity Levels Model and how it works so you can begin getting the clarity you deserve

Next Week:

  1. I will take you through a detailed breakdown of the Hockey Identity Levels Model

  2. Breaking down your role and how different roles require different Archetypes

  3. Breaking down the player Archetypes and how to master yours

  4. Help you to understand your unique Identity Attributes and how these connect to your skill development and off-season training

A Lack Of Clarity For Players and Parents

Sure, these things coaches say (know your role, do your job, play your game) might sound helpful on the surface…

But, do they really have any depth for you?

Do they really bring clarity to a player about what to do on the ice?

Do they provide clear instructions on how a player SHOULD play?

Typically these sayings leave a player asking their parents or teammates questions like:

  • “What is my role?”

  • “What exactly am I expected to do within the context of this role?”

  • “How do I know when I did my job on the ice?”

  • “How do I know when I am playing MY game the right way?”

  • “What is my Identity as a player?”

A parent with hockey knowledge might be able to help the player, but like with my dad, I just didn’t want to hear the message from him.

Coaches on the other hand, often like to answer these questions with buzzwords like:

  • “Just work harder”

  • “You gotta want it more”

  • “Keep it simple”

They hide behind these terms instead of clarifying the essential details that EACH player needs to do to be successful and develop their game.

I know because most of my coaches did this and it drove me insane!

I saw the top teams in my league with coaches who were actually helping players develop and that drove me more insane!

I also know most of my teammates in junior and college spent most of their minor/junior careers with coaches like this too.

If you have a coach who really teaches the details and answers these questions in depth, then you are lucky.

Most players are stuck stranded with the buzzwords these coaches are feeding them.

They are left thinking that “hard work” and “wanting it more” is the way to success.

Sure hard work may win a couple extra games, or get a player a few extra points…

But deep down most of these players are very stressed because they know those are not the answer for them to play D1 or high-level pro.

Deep down they know that the clarity they are seeking is EVERYTHING for their development.

But they don’t have a coach that can PROVIDE that clarity.

The details are what would separate them from the other players on their team and league.

The clear details are what will get them noticed by the next-level scouts.

What Does Clarity Look Like In Hockey?

Clarity in hockey is what every driven player seeks.

Lazy players will accept the confusion and give up on their dreams.

Driven players seek to understand:

  • “What is my role?”

  • “What exactly am I expected to do within the context of this role?”

  • “How do I know when I did my job on the ice?”

  • “How do I know when I am playing MY game the right way?”

  • “What is my Identity as a player?”

If you did understand these things, then you could actually attack these challenges in your game.

But the reason you can’t is because you’re thinking has become poisoned by the common hockey knowledge.

You have been convinced to think like everyone else in hockey.

And if you think like everyone else, you get what everyone else gets (average results).

Hockey is a chaotic world.

And it makes your thinking Chaotic.

How The Mind Deals With Chaos

To understand how our mind deals with Chaos I like to use Grey’s model of the mind.

This diagram is my own recreated version of a diagram created by Canadian clinical psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson.

Grey's model works like this:

  1. Our present reality is not the way we want it to be (we want it to change). We feel dissatisfied with

    1. Who we are as a player

    2. What we can do on the ice during the game (our skills and results)

    3. Where we are playing (the league, team or line)

  2. We have a target in our mind of what “should be” which we will call “our ideal future”. This can be anything from:

    1. Playing a higher level (Pro, College, Jr. A)

    2. Playing in a better line (1st or 2nd line)

    3. Getting more points

    4. All of the above

  3. We then create a mental model of how we think the world works. Specifically how we think the hockey world and systems work.

    1. For example, Parents and players are obsessed with blaming the politics of hockey. Their mental model is simple. You cannot get ahead, because a family with more money has bought themselves your spot.

    2. Hustlers. Their mental model is that ANYTHING can be achieved with hard work.

    3. The list goes on.

  4. We use this mental model to plan a sequence of behaviours (consciously or subconsciously) to get us to our ideal future.

  5. We complete the behaviours

  6. The behaviours interact with reality

  7. That Mental Model is then:

    1. Proven right - if we get our predicted outcome

    2. Proven wrong - if we get an unpredicted outcome

  8. If we get the predicted outcome:

    1. We feel rewarding emotions like promise and hope.

    2. These then drive us to continue that behaviour sequence

  9. If we get unpredicted outcomes

    1. We feel a sense of threat or anxiety

    2. These then drive us to choose a new behaviour sequence

Now I know you are asking, “But how does this connect to hockey?”

Grey’s Model In Hockey

In hockey, we often feel a sense of threat or anxiety.

But it’s hard to tell where it comes from.

Maybe you fear others are going to take our spot.

Maybe you feel anxious that you might have a bad game today and get scratched in your next game tomorrow.

These might be true for you generally speaking, but there is a deeper truth.

There is more to the story than just these simple fears.

The Rollercoaster Effect

According to the Greys model, you feel these negative feelings because your mental model is constantly being proven wrong.

When you feel these negative emotions, your brain has 3 choices:

  1. Adjust your mental model and change your behaviour

  2. Wait for more data before changing behaviour

  3. Make excuses by blaming something outside of yourself and don’t change your behaviour

On a game-to-game basis, you are going through Grey’s Model in this way.

For example, most players want to get a point per game.

In some games they get a point → feel good → maintain behaviour

In some games they do not get a point → feel bad → blame something OR try to change behaviour.

This takes them on a rollercoaster of emotions because their mental model believes:

Input = Output

INPUT: prepare properly + work hard = OUTPUT: Get points

Then they go out and play their game and don’t get points every game.

They feel negative emotions whenever they don’t get points, so they try changing something thinking it will finally fix everything.

They go a few more games and don’t get more points.

They keep changing random things thinking someday they will solve the problem.

But in reality, they will never stop this process of frustrating loop because their mental model is not effective.

Put simply, how they see the hockey world and how it works is INEFFECTIVE.

Their mental model assumes that if they keep randomly changing things, or working harder it will fix things.

But of course, it will not be for 90% of players.

You see, 90% of players believe they should be getting more points, and scoring more goals, when it reality that is only a small part of THEIR game.

Instead, they must seek to understand the pillars (key areas) of THEIR game that will lead them to success.

This requires more than just doing random things.

It requires them to take a step back and understand the bigger picture of the hockey world.

Stepping back allows them to see and understand how their hockey career really works.

When they see things from a zoomed-out lens, they can see what about their training and game really matters and what does not.

This allows them to simplify things.

With simplicity, they gain clarity.

And with clarity, they can take control of their hockey development and careers!

Simplifying The Hockey World

Clarity comes from simplicity.

When we first simplify things down to their foundations, we can learn a great deal.

We must simplify the game down, then we can add complexity to it later.

Like building a strong foundation of cement before we build a skyscraper on top of it

Now, what are the most foundational things you must understand in hockey?

  1. Where do you want to go

  2. Who is going to have the largest control over you going there

  3. How can I influence these people to select me

Let’s assume your answer to the first question is: I want to play D1 NCAA hockey.

Then who is going to have the largest control of you going there: The Next Level coaches and scouts of those D1 teams

Once you realize that next-level scouts and coaches are the ones who really control your future, you must:

  1. Understand how these next-level coaches and scouts think

  2. So you can understand how they see you

  3. So you understand WHAT players they pick and EXACTLY WHY

  4. So that you can maximize your chances of success

“If your goal is to move up levels, It doesn’t matter how you see yourself, it matters only what your perceived value is to the coaches and scouts at the next level.”

You might not like this, but it’s true.

It doesn’t matter if a great chef thinks he cooked a great steak. It’s whether the customer thinks the steak is amazing.

The image that a scout or a coach has in their mind of YOU is what is going to dictate if you play NCAA or not.

Hockey Scouts & Chess

I have talked to NHL, College, and Junior scouts and I have noticed some clear patterns.

There is a clear framework they all use when they see you.

It’s a way of labelling you so they can understand you in their mind and communicate your value to other coaches and scouts.

They LABEL you like giving a name to a chess piece.

That way, people at a glance can know what that chess piece is capable of.

Scouts do the same thing when they Label someone like:

  • A top/bottom 6 forward

  • A Disruptor Defenseman

  • A Two-Way Forward

They essentially are saying

  • This player is like a bishop and can do these kinds of moves

  • This player is like a king because he can do these kinds of moves

Yes, hockey players are much more complex than chess pieces, but it’s not far off.

And when you see the world this way, it becomes much more clear what you need to do.

Imagine a coach is a general of an army. In his army, his soldiers play different roles and therefore have different values. A general has pilots, engineers, snipers, medics, tacticians, leaders. They are all soldiers. But they all have a unique role to play.

Coaches are trying to see where you could fit into their lineup.

Coaches/Scouts Goal: Pick the best chess set they can get.

Players Goal: Become the best chess piece I can be for the teams they want to be a part of.

Now that’s put simply for now. Let’s dig deeper into this concept and get specific in hockey terms.

Therefore we can really understand the hockey chess pieces.

The Hockey Label

Coaches and scouts are picking you, so it’s imperative that you understand how they think.

That way you can make sure you present yourself best to them and maximize your chances of being selected.

Here is generally how they think…

When a scout sees you, they automatically put a label on you.

They do this so they know how to best describe you to others.

I call this your Hockey Label.

If enough scouts and coaches start calling you by a label, it will stick.

And that is how people will see you unless you work to change it (which we will talk in-depth about in a few weeks).

So how do scouts come up with this label in the first place?

And how can you learn to play your game in a way that creates the best possible label for you?

I’ll teach you below…

How Next-Level Scouts and Coaches Label You

Every scout looks at players using 4 lenses and then creates a Hockey Label for you.

  1. Position + Line

  2. Archetype

  3. Identity Attributes

  4. Offensive/Defensive Preferences

It’s then put together like this.

The Hockey Label:

(Position + Line) + (Archetype) + (Identity Attributes) + (Offensive/Defensive Preferences)

For example, here’s how I would describe Nikita Kucherov’s Hockey Label:

(Top line Offensive + Winger) + (Sniper/Playmaker) + (elite shot release and passing ability) + (Pass first preference + passive defensive preference + Stick check first preference)

Let’s break this down further:

  1. Position + Line

    1. Position: This is a general position that you play (Center, Winger, Defenceman)

    2. Line: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th - top 6 vs bottom 6

    3. Meaning are you in the top 50% or the bottom 50% of your team? This is typically indicated by which line you play on.

  2. Archetype + Objectives (Preferences)

    1. How you play that position and role. Eg, grinder, power forward, etc. What results do you generate typically that help out?

    2. Your archetype defines your objectives more specifically.

    3. As a defenceman, your main objective is to stop the offence of the opposition.

    4. But as a Two-Way Defenceman, your secondary objective is to contribute offensively by quarterbacking the play well so that your team can enter the offensive zone easily, and to be a 4th forward on the attack as a pass option or a shooting option. You play a little more risky with carrying the puck and pinching down.

    5. vs As a Defensive Defenceman. Your secondary goal is to gain possession of the puck, keep it safe and dish it off. Focusing more on anticipating turnovers. Maintaining strong gap control when the other team gets the puck so you can shut down the attack fast enough. You play things safer.

  3. Identity Attributes

    1. SKILL: 2-4 skills of yours that STANDOUT how you play as that Position, Role and Archetype that make you valuable.

      1. Awesome Backhand + Can catch any pass + wicked puck protection = Crosby

      2. Crazy hands + insane takeaway ability = Datsuyk

      3. Shifty on the Blue-line and can walk in towards the net with ease = Dhalin

Seeking Clarity

If a player can get more clarity, they can actually begin to make changes in their game.

If a player really is clear on what he needs to do, he can begin to measure how he is performing.

He can measure improvements in it game.

He can really understand how to develop his game over time.

He could then:

  • Guide his skills training more effectively

  • Guide his physical training in the gym

  • Guide his hockey IQ development with more clear visualizations and mental simulations

  • Guide his player's self-image

This would allow him to really move up to the next level.

The Layers Of Identity

Each player must learn to accomplish these goals in their own unique way.

To understand your own unique way, you must understand yourself as a player deeply.

I call this understanding the Layers of the identity.

This means we must start from the bottom and work our way up the pyramid.

First understanding your Position, Line, Archetype, Identity, and Preferences as we talked about above.

By knowing this, you can then best prepare your mind, body, and skill set to align with the levels below.

You will then get results - which provide feedback as to how you are playing within the context of your Position, Role, Archetype, Identity, and Preferences.

This will again influence how you prepare.

Over time after getting consistent results, you will be given a hockey label by your teammates and coaches.

But more importantly, you will be given a label by next-level scouts and coaches.

Now do you see how it all connects?

That is why we must start from the bottom of the pyramid, instead of where most people start (at the top).

Bottom-up thinking allows you to build the foundation of how next-level scouts and coaches see you!

Bottom-Up Thinking

We must start from the bottom:

  1. Defining/recognizing the unique role that you have been assigned or may be assigned

    1. On your current team

    2. On your future team at the next level

  2. Understanding the archetype you need to adopt to fulfill your role

    1. This could mean as a top 4 defenseman you are expected to go from being a defensive defenseman to a more two-way defenseman who jumps into the rush

    2. This could mean going from a top

  3. Developing a unique blend of skills that set you apart from the restWe call these your Identity Attributes

    1. This can be thought of as your best skills stacked together

  4. Identifying what your offensive and defensive preferences are and how these align with the Role, Archetype, and Identity you are playing with

    1. For example, a defensive defenseman must have a preference for safety over risk

  5. Then Identify how to measure your game (Identity Measures)

  6. Then measure your game

  7. Then adapt your training system to reprogram your abilities

This understanding is the foundation of moving up levels and leagues

The key is understanding what you can and cannot control.

Everything that is yellow in the diagram represents the things you can control, meaning they can be trained (archetype, Identity, training)

The things in what are either things given to you or are your result (position, line, results, label).

We will dig into the chart piece by piece here to help you really understand how it all works and connects to you getting better and getting noticed by scouts.

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Who is Corson Searles?

I am a former player & mental/performance advisor for AAA, junior, college, and pro hockey players. I am obsessed with dissecting atheletic performance potential, lifestyle design, and hockey development.


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