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The Mindset Shift That Will Get You Scouted (Junior, NCAA, Pro)


I used to complain all the time about hockey scouts.

I would say:


  • "Scouts are just making guesses and then taking credit"

  • "Scouts don't know what they are talking about"

  • "Scouts don't know how to pick the best players"

  • "Scouts just don't see how good I really am"


That is what I used to think.

Then I did some research into the area.

I talked to and studied many NHL, pro, college, and junior scouts.

I learned about how scouts think and the complexities of the job.

I have a new opinion:

Scouting is a tough f***** job.

Here is a few of the main reasons why it's a tough job:


  1. They have to travel to sometimes 20-25 games per month (that's a lot of travel)

  2. They have to watch hundreds of players and try to remember all of them (that requires an insane amount of memory)

  3. They have to work with a team and then predict how a player will develop (very complex)

  4. Plus they must guess how that player will fit into the team in the future (that's a tough responsibility)


Why Does This Matter To You?

This matters to you because if your goal is to play high-level hockey, scouts are likely going to have a massive influence on your career.

A scout showing interest in you might be the reason your whole life changes.

But often times we demonize these guys (well at least I did).

OR, we put them on too much of a pedestal.

I want you to realize that these guys are people too.

Scouts have to sacrifice a lot of their lives to do what they do.

So when they show up to your rink and take their time to watch you and your team play, it's your job to show what you can do.

If you want a spot at the next level, it’s your job to be the best version of yourself on and off the ice.

It's your job to make it easier for them to stick their neck out and say:

"I think YOU are someone our team should commit, draft, or sign."

It's your job to make a scout's life easy.

When you make a scout's life easy, then you make your life easy.

But, before we get into how to make your life easy, let's first define a scout.

What Defines A Hockey Scout?

A scout:

"Sports scouts observe athletic contests and athletes to gather information that will help the team that employs them. They may attend a game in the hopes of recruiting a player, or they may accumulate information about an opponent's players and strategies." - https://vault.com/professions/sports-scouts

Scouts can be:


  • Head coaches

  • Assistant coaches

  • Team personnel

  • Clearly defines scouts


No matter who the scout is, it's an honour to have them at your game, and it's even more of an honour to have them watching you.

Now the question becomes:


  1. What are they looking for?

  2. How do I become what they are looking for?


Some Context

I want to context this with:


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

  2. I have listened to several podcasts where scouts have expressed their opinions on how they approach scouting

  3. I have talked with dozens of hockey players about their scouting experiences.


I want to break down what often goes unsaid.

I want to give you the info in these people's brains, so you can get better.

I have listened to far too many podcasts where scouts say the most Caveman Coach things.

They basically say:

"We pick guys who work hard and who have good character".

As if this advice really works for everyone.

Sure it works for the elite players.

If you're a natural talent, great trainers will often just find you.

Natural talents have to focus on 'not messing it up'

For the rest of the hockey world, we have to think a bit differently.

For everyone below that natural freak talent level here is what to know:

Hockey coaches and scouts often throw up smoke screens about what they really want.

I am not 100% sure why.

Based on my psychology background I think it's a bit of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias.

So they see the world one way - hard work is the secret to success.

Then they only pay attention to when this works, and they ignore when it doesn't.

I also think it's a combination of these three things:


  1. They don't want to share secrets and processes

  2. They are not the best communicators so they oversimplify things

  3. They really don't have a clear process, and go off of instinct


Now with that out of the way, let's break down how scouts actually think about you as a player.

We will look at 3 core things:


  1. The mental frameworks and perspective that a scout will have on you

  2. How you must change your Internal Identity to change how scouts see you (External Identity)

  3. The Scouts Priority List and how you can best present yourself to the next level


Your Identity Is Your Habits

When it comes to the way scouts view you and categorize you (External Identity), you are and always will be categorized by your habits.

It sounds weird, but it's true.

Have you ever heard the concept that people judge you by your actions?

It's true.

You judge yourself by your intentions, but you judge others by their actions.

But others are doing the same thing to you.

They judge you by your actions.

And they say that 95% of what we do in life is habit.

So, 95% of what people will judge us for is out habits.

CASE CLOSED HAHA.

Other people don't care about what you HOPE to be, they see what your habits are and assume that just "who you are".

For example, a player who makes a lot of hits in each game will be labelled a physical player.

The fact that they hit a lot is not some unchangeable habit, it's a habit that players built.

So if a player who does not hit much, suddenly starts hitting a lot, then boom - now they are labelled a physical player.

This is CRAZY that coaches just assume that a player is a certain way.

They put players in a box and assume they "just are the way they are".

That's bull****.

You Can Change!

It really pisses me off when people say that players can't change.

I think it's a very limited mindset in the hockey world.

Frankly, it really pisses me off.

Instead of drafting a player and developing him, teams are more inclined to drop a player and find the next one.

They could work to change his habits, building his body, mind, and skills.

Instead, they opt for the greener grass.

It's kind of like the relationship world.

Instead of working in a relationship, many people want to swipe on Tinder.

The mindset many teams and people have is: that the grass is always greener.

And don't get me wrong... not every player can become McDavid.

But so many players get written off before they touch their potential.

And the worst part is the player will buy into this programming eventually.

The player doesn't realize that he can shift their habits so much that they take on a new Identity.

The idea that players can't develop is ridiculous.

They used to say that hockey sense/IQ could not be developed.

Now we know that is false. They used to say small players couldn't survive in the NHL, look at:


  • Nathan Gerbe

  • Brayden Point

  • Brendan Gallagher


And that's to name a few.

Anything in a player's game can level up.

Until a player reaches his 30s to 40s, there is no reason they can't keep getting better.

Some players might develop faster than others, but all players can get better.

And I don't like that so many players are programmed to believe they have no potential.

They are fed negativity every single day.

"You will always be a 4th liner"

"You will never be able to succeed at the next level"

"You will never be a skilled player"

It's no wonder they lose confidence in themselves and believe they can't develop.

It's no wonder why so many players quit.

It's no wonder so much potential is lost.

That stuff drives me insane.

I know the pain of feeling that way.

I know the pain of feeling like you have done everything and still hearing negativity.

That stuff is why I built a place where players can go and find their potential.

Where they will be fed positivity and self-belief.

Action follows beliefs.

So that's why you MUST dial in your beliefs so that they drive you towards the actions.

Quality actions + Time = Success

That is why I built the Next Level Academy

I wish this place existed when I was a player.

Why Identity Shift Exists

That's the whole premise of what we do with players.

We help them discover that they are not trapped in the habits they were taught in the PAST.

You can use mental techniques to rewire your habits.

And when you change your internal habits, suddenly scouts see you differently.

Suddenly new possibilities open up that you never imagined!

So now that we understand that.

We can understand that a scout may put us in a box, but it's our job to break out of that box.




The Scout's Priority List

Each scout may prioritize 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


You will find players who are exceptions to this rule, but it's usually because they are extremely high in the top 2 priorities.

The bottom 10 are what will create a ceiling for many players.

You can be a model athlete in terms of ability, but if you have a criminal record it will be unlikely you get too far.

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

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

That's why its so important to think holistically about who you are presenting to the next level.

A lot of players want to invest in an agent/advisor but should hire a skating coach, mental coach and a tutor.

That's why we put programs and assist players in our Next Level Academy with all the things on the list.

(except for a criminal record - that's for a lawyer haha).

We want to make you a true asset to the next level.

Someone who scouts and coaches will be fighting over.

So that is where we will go next week!

Next week we will dig into the list (so that this article doesn't turn into a novel.

Make sure to subscribe so you can see it when it's released next weekend.

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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