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The 13 PILLARS That Scouts Look For At The Next Level (In Hockey)

I wanted to play NCAA D1 hockey so bad.

If you're reading this, I bet you do too.

I was 100% confident in my 16 and 17-year-old years of junior hockey that I would do it.

In my 17-year-old year, I was nominated for Rookie of the Year in junior b.

I didn't have any scouts talk to me, but I assumed I was on some radars.

Everyone told me I was going places, so I took comfort in that.

It felt like I was destined to get to the promised land and play for a top college team.

I could see the future right in front of me.

But then as I turned 18.

I had an off year.

I made some big development mistakes by trying to change my game style.

I didn't separate myself the way I needed to and it cost me a lot.

I blamed my coaches for everything.

By the end of the year, I felt about 50% confident about playing D1.

By 19 I continued this trend.

I played a bit better but still was clueless about what scouts wanted.

Still, no scouts approaching me.

By the end of my 19-year-old season, my D1 hopes were at about 25%.

It didn't look good, but I knew if I could play well at a junior A level, it would show my skills were right where they needed to be.

In my 20-year-old year, I jumped to junior A for a season (because I could finally afford to pay the fees).

I didn't produce the way I thought I could in my first 40 games I was on pace for 15 goals, and I felt like that wasn't enough for D1.

Turned out I still had been focusing on many of the wrong things in my development.

From ages 18-20 I lost my Identity as a player and never got it back.

I didn't talk to a single D1 team in my final 20-year-old year.

I felt hopeless.

As I moved towards the end of my junior career I began to realize that the D1 dream was over.

The depression set in.

After putting my heart and soul into hockey for the past 15 years, it felt like I had failed at life.

I was a failure in my mind.

I wanted to give up.

By the 40-game mark in the CCHL I was close to 0% confident I would get to D1.

This was a tough pill to swallow.

Five years ago, I never thought this would happen.

What I went through is something so many players must face.

When they are not committed to one of the 60 D1 hockey teams in the country it can be tough.

I was definitely down for quite a while.

But I learned a lot from this experience.

It made me a better coach.

It made me a better person.

As for my story after juniors...

Thankfully, I did have some great D3 offers though.

I went with a good fit at Bryn Athyn College.

I learned a lot during my college experience too, but it's not relevant to this conversation

The Point Of My Story

You see, last week we dug into the mindset that will get you scouted.

I highlighted the way I wish I thought about scouts when I was in junior.

I wish I had taken the time to understand what teams were looking for.

I would have done things very differently with my development.

I would have invested far more time, money, and energy into certain parts of my game.

This week we are diving into the key things that scouts prioritize when looking at players.

This is not a perfect list, but it will give you solid guidance.

I want you to know what I did not know when I was 15-20 years old.

These are things I now understand looking back.

If you want to make it to get scouted, it's best you focus on this list.

As I mentioned last week, I want to context this with:

  1. I have talked with as high as NHL scouts about this, so I understand the way they approach their scouting

  2. I have listened to many podcasts where scouts have broken down how they approach scouting

  3. I have talked with dozens (even hundreds) of hockey players about their scouting experiences.

  4. I have talked with dozens of hockey coaches about their scouting experiences.

There are 13 principle areas (I added to last week's list) that scouts most often care about when selecting players:

  1. High skill

  2. High athletic ability

  3. High IQ

  4. No criminal record

  5. High career point totals

  6. Big breakout point year

  7. Fits needed roles for the future

  8. Mindset 1: A deep obsession for the game

  9. Mindset 2: A deep competitive desire

  10. Good people

  11. Good teammate

  12. Good student

  13. Injury history

Scouts use these 13 areas to make bets on players.

Let's break this down.

Scouts Are Making Bets

They care about these things because they are making a bet.

Scouts bet on players like betting on a horse.

To make bets it helps to know as much information as possible on that horse.

Scouts want to know as much as possible about a player they are interested in.

They will look over all 13 areas if they are interested in you.

You want to ask yourself: "How can I take these 13 principles and display them to scouts".

How can I show a scout I am high on all these things on the list.

But first, you gotta get their interest.

Getting Scouts Interest

On-ice performance is what gets scouts to the game.

That's what draws them in.

Scouts want to see something pop out of the page at them.

Sure they care about off-ice character, but that's not what brings most scouts into the stands.

They want to see:

  1. An asset that you have that separates you from the rest

  2. An asset that could separate you from the rest if developed

  3. An asset that could separate you if it were combined with other assets or coaching

The key is realizing that this skill must be something they can see transferring to the next level.

We call that a transferable skill.

Things like elite skating, and high IQ, these are very common transferable skills.

Some skills are barrier skills.

An example of a barrier skill is a slapshot off the rush.

That's a skill that might work at lower levels but will be very hard to execute against better defenders.

So the takeaway is to ask yourself:

  1. what is a skill that you have that could be a transferable skill?

  2. Does that skill stand out when I play?

  3. Could I work on it so that it does stand out?

  4. If yes, create a plan to develop it

  5. If no, then go back to question 1 and find another skill

If you need help apply here so we can chat about how we can help you get scouted to the next level.

What Will Lose A Scouts Interest

One big thing that holds a lot of players back is not their strengths, it's their weaknesses.

The weakest like in the chain represents how strong the chain is.

Every skill you have can be NHL calibre, but if your defensive play is still junior level, you will be held to a lower level.

So if you want to get to the next level, reduce your weakest parts on the list at the same time you build your strengths.

I always encourage my guys to split their spare time 50/50 between their biggest strength and their biggest weakness.

For example, after practice you might split your extra 20 minutes of ice time into:

  1. 10 minutes of your biggest strength

  2. 10 mins of your biggest weakness

This will give you the best chance of gaining more scouts' attention from a practice time perspective.

Okay so now that we have that clear, let's look into the 13 areas in more detail.

The Scout's Priority List

Each scout may rank these in a different order, but usually in this order:

  1. High skill

  2. High athletic ability

  3. High IQ

  4. No criminal record

  5. High career point totals

  6. Big breakout point year

  7. Fits needed roles for the future

  8. Mindset 1: A deep obsession for the game

  9. Mindset 2: A deep competitive desire

  10. Good people

  11. Good teammate

  12. Good student

  13. Injury history

Each of these can be rated on a scale from 0-100 like a video game character.

You want to be high across the board for the best chance at being scouted.

But, you will find that being high in the top 2 areas (skill and athletic ability) are most important.

The issue many players have though is that they create a ceiling for themselves with the bottom 11 areas.

For example, you can have top athletic ability, but if you have a criminal record it will be unlikely to get too far.

Same thing with being a really poor student, or being a very bad person.

These things may not stop everyone, but they will make it very hard to succeed in any sport.

They create unnecessary resistance.

I want to help you avoid this resistance and get to the text level.


The key to reducing unnecessary resistance is to think holistically about your preparation.

That's how you best present yourself to the next level.

You don't want to have any major holes in your game.

It's like trying to sell a car.

A lot of players have a broken-down car that needs a mechanic, but instead, they hire a salesman.

They have their priorities backwards. A lot of players want to invest in an agent/advisor (salesman) but should hire a skating coach, mental coach or a tutor (mechanics).

They want to market a crappy product.

Then they wonder why no one wants to buy it.

That's why Identity Shift is different.

We focus on developing the product so that it sells itself.

Then if you want to hire an agent, it becomes effortless for them to sell you to the next level. So now, let's dig into the list.

For each topic, we will talk about it from 2 perspectives:

  1. The Scouts Perspective

  2. The Players Perspective

I will talk about them both from my own view based on my research.

Breaking Down The List

I first broke down the list into details, but soon realized that it was turning into a novel.

So instead I decided to make a YouTube video breaking these pillars down in detail.

I hope this letter was valuable guys!

And if you are a 14+-year-old hockey player who is trying to go from:

  • Minor/high school/prep to junior

  • Junior to college

  • or college to pro

If you are below 14 years old -> I made a free training program that will walk you through these 13 areas and more. This training includes meditation and visualization sessions, worksheets, and more! Hope you enjoy and have a great week!

- Corson

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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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