Recruiting tips via USA Hockey
In a special to USA Hockey, Elizabeth Boger spoke with University of North Dakota head coach Brad Berry about how NCAA hockey coaches hit the recruiting trail. The coach of the defending NCAA Division I champions offered all sorts of advice to young hockey players looking to earn a spot on a college hockey roster:
“Be aware of body language
Negative body language can be an immediate turn-off, and coaches often see that as hindering that player’s development moving forward.
“Our culture is based on positivity, and playing with energy and having a team-first mentality,” Berry said. “Any time we see that body language, whether we go watch a team, or recruit, or have that kid in our program that has it, it’s immediately addressed.”
Coaches want to make sure incoming players will feel comfortable at their new home away from home. When talking to coaches, ask good questions about the program, players, philosophy, school and more.
Coaches also love players who ask questions about the game. It shows a desire to learn and improve and it shows you are not satisfied.
Be a team-first player
For many coaches, a powerful point shot or keen playmaking abilities mean very little if that player’s personality doesn’t live up to their skill level. It’s not just about what a recruit can take in, but what they can give as a person.
“Giving and care – those are two words we use a lot in our culture,” Berry said. “If you can give a lot, it’s going to come back to you. … I think there’s a deep belief or a deep care in our locker room that everyone has each other’s back and that we’re really team-first.”
Stay on top of your schoolwork
Be committed to your schoolwork and driven to excel in the classroom. Remember that only a very small percentage of players go on to play in the NHL. Getting a college degree will set you up for life after college – and life after hockey. But to get into college, you need to be eligible. And remember, the better your grades and test scores are in high school, the more recruiting opportunities can present themselves due to different academic standards at different schools.
How do you respond?
Coaches are very interested in how players respond to certain situations. Complaining to the officials, flailing your arms in the air after allowing a goal and over-the-top goal celebrations show that a player cannot keep their emotions in check during the game or through adversity.
You can still be an intense competitor with an even-keeled temperament. Look no further than former North Dakota standout and current Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise.
Coaches aren’t just excited to land good players. They look forward to mentoring them and continuing their development, on and off the ice.
“The biggest thing for me is having a role in shaping these kids’ lives to be a good person,” Berry said. “I love seeing our players go through our program and it’s a sad day when they leave our program.”
But if you’re not a coachable kid or responsive to criticism, recruiters can see that. There are a lot of really talented players out there, and for college coaches, a lot of the time their decision making comes down to character.”