Two Day Hockey Tryout Plan for Bantams

Players on the bench at a bantam hockey tryout

This article is written in response to a question asked by one of our members.  They asked if we had recommendations for a selection of drills that would be good for a Bantam tryout (ages 14 and under).  

The tryout is two days long and they would like to evaluate skills early in the tryout and move into game play as the tryout progressed.  Rather than just reply to one member we thought it might be helpful to post this article so it can be a resource for other coaches looking for the same thing.

We have put together a series of drills and games for two sessions. For each drill we will explain what you can look for in evaluating the players.  We have also included a goalie drill at the end in case you have 15 - 20 minutes to spend with the goalies, along with additional tryout resources.

Tryout Outline

Session #1 (Skill Evaluation Session)

  • Howie's Warm Up Skating Evaluation
  • Full Ice Overspeed #3
  • Three Zone Transition Skating with Pucks
  • Danger Zone 1 vs 1
  • Continuous 2 on 1 w/ backchecker
  • Continuous 2 on 2
  • Net Play Goalie Drill (Optional, can be used if you have time for a goalie session)
  • Individual Skill Work (Optional, can be used at the beginning of the session as well)

Session #2 (Game Play Session)

  • Short Track Flim Flom
  • Half Ice Scrimmage
  • Gretzky 3 on 3 Small Area Game
  • Bourque 3 on 3 Small Area Game
  • Full Ice Scrimmage (if needed)

Session #1: Primarily Skill Evaluation

Howie's Warm Up Skating Evaluation

Howie's Warm Up Skating Evaluation Drill

This is a good warm up skating drill for the players and a good opportunity for your coaches to evaluate player's skating ability. View Details and Animation >>

Full Ice Overspeed #3

Full Ice overspeed skating drill

This drill allows players to open it up a little bit and give your coaching staff some more skating evaluation criteria.  This is where you can start to identify players that have high end top speed.  You can add a variation into this too so that players are doing 3 right and 3 left backwards down the length of the ice. View Animation >>

Three Zone Transition Pivots with Pucks

Three zone transition with pucks

This drill allows you to start evaluating the overall skill set of players.  They will be controlling the puck during forward cross-overs, transitions, and backwards cross-overs.  If this is a warm up for the goalies as well then you can adjust the drill so that the players do only two circles and then come into the zone for a longer shot.  If the goalies are already warmed up then you can evaluate their positional play as the players move laterally across the slot. View Drill Details >>

Danger Zone 1 vs. 1

Danger Zone 1 vs 1

This drill will start to get the competitive juices flowing and you can start to evaluate forwards and defensemen.  The advantage goes to the defense in this drill but you will be able to tell which defense have good instincts, good backwards skating, and good positioning/angling.  As for the forwards, you will be able to see forwards that are scared to take hits, who can keep moving their feet through the checks, who is willing to drive hard and protect the puck to the net. A lot of players will try to cut back to the middle and cause a lot of turnovers.  Mention this to the players and see who is willing to protect the puck. View Danger Zone 1 vs 1 >>

Continuous 2 on 1 with Backchecker

2 on 1 Backchecking Drill

With this drill you can start to get a feel for player offensive instincts and scoring abilities.  To be successful players will have to make failry quick decisions because their is back pressure coming from the backchecker.  It forces the players to play a bit faster and closer to game situations. View Animation >>

Continuous 2 on 2

Continuous 2 on 2 Hockey Drill

To finish off the first session we have a 2 on 2 drill that comes closer to a game.  This drill really allows you to evaluate defense in the key areas of gap control, being able to contain and create turnovers in the defensive zone and make breakout passes.  The emphasis for forwards is being able to gain control of the puck deep into the offensive zone, create time and space in the neutral zone, and be creative in the offensive zone. Check out this drill >>

Net Play Goalie Drill (OPTIONAL)

Net Play Goalie Hockey Drill

This goalie drill allows you to evaluate a couple of skills related to goalies.  Not only do you get to see their positioning and ability to stop the puck from shots in the high slot, but having to play the puck from behind the net give you a chance to see a couple of things.  Their footwork has to be good when getting behind the net to stop the puck.  You will also get to see how comfortable they are with playing the puck, which starts to become a factor at the bantam age level. View more details and the animation >>

Individual Skill Work 

See where each player stands on a variety of edgework, puck control and pivoting skills. We have put together a post with 36 individual skills that can be utalized in a tryout session to have a general idea of players abilities. These skills can be performed at the beginning or end of this session. View The 36 Skills Here >>

Session #2: Game Play

Short Track Flim Flom

Short track flim flom

This is a good all-around warm-up that will gets players skating, passing, and shooting.  It is also great for goaltenders to get warmed up.  Not a ton of evaluation needs to be done in this drill but it is great to get a lot of players moving and get them warmed up for the scrimmage. View Animation >>

Cross-Ice Scrimmage

 Play 3 vs 3 cross-ice and watch the players compete. You will be able to spot players that can create time and space with the puck and compete hard to get the puck when they do not have it. 

Gretzky 3 on 3 Small Area Game

Gretzky 3 on 3 Small Area Game

Some of the most effective players will also be the most effective in tighter areas.  It forces players to make quicker decisions with and without the puck, protect the puck, play physical, and play smarter.  This drill really caters to the smarter players and ones with good offensive instincts. View Small Game Details >>

Bourque 3 on 3 Small Area Game

This is a similar game that will cater the smarter players as they have to always re-group with the player or coach behind the net before attacking the other net.  Again, the drill is in a smaller area of the ice so quicker, smarter decisions are important. View Bourque 3 on 3 >>

Full Ice Scrimmage

This is self-explanatory.  Open up the ice to a full game situation. Drop the puck and let the players go.  Maybe mention a thing or two to the offensive players and defensive players that are important to you as a coach and see which players make an effort to demonstrate their coachability.

Additional Tryout Resources

Tryout Evaluation Forms