Slapshots: Make it or Break it at Main Camp

Photo: Sioux City Journal

Slapshots: Make it or Break it at Main Camp

By Merrick Parnell, Junior Hockey Scout

twitter.png  @Merk8989 

Your hard work this past season has earned you an invite to a junior team’s main camp. These camps are your time to shine and to show that you can play at the next level.

Main camps are part of the process to play junior hockey (check out the previous article on things you should do to play junior hockey: link here: ) and are essential because it allows teams to bring in their new top prospects to compete with their current personnel.  All through the camp players will be evaluated by the club’s scouting staff, coaching staff, and front office staff.

This article will help identify what those scouts and evaluators will be watching for, and it will give you a good idea on what you need to do to show well at camp and hopefully earn a roster spot.

Most camps will have a similar format of on-ice training sessions and exhibition games. Evaluators will watch you closely, especially during the on-ice games, to see how you do in live in-game scenarios.  Although evaluations can be advanced and sophisticated with a lot of categories, they will mostly boil down to three categories:

– Hockey Skills.
– Skating
– Hockey Sense/IQ


You can’t play the game if you can’t skate.  Skating is an important aspect because it will often times help to make a play. If a player can use speed and agility to enter into open ice to make a pass or receive a pass, that is something that is noticed.

Another significant factor that is recognized is the ability to recover. The ability to change direction, or catch up to the play, is huge. On the defensive end, scouts will look at how well you can keep position on the puck carrier or how hard you back and forecheck. Skating can make or break your showing at a camp, so focus on it often. Working with a power skating coach is never a bad thing, especially when leading up to camp.

Hockey Skills

Hockey skills encompass passing, shooting and stick work. Scouts will look at how well you can do these things, and it is essential to take the extra second to make sure you make the play. Smooth tape to tape passes, an array of shots with accuracy and velocity, and the ability to control the puck will go a long way in impressing evaluators.

Hockey Sense/IQ

This category is the toughest one to evaluate because it is built upon so much of the intangibles and subjective opinion. In a nutshell, scouts will look at effort and level of compete in this category and also vision. Prospects can score highly in this by demonstrating anticipation, split decision thinking, and being able to read and see plays develop. Hustle is also a considerable part of this category, and believe me, scouts will notice if players “dog it” during shifts, especially if they skate slowly back to the bench during a change. Be willing to work hard and be ready to use your intellect to make smart hockey plays, and you will be fine.

Final Thoughts

Showing well at camps by excelling in these categories will go a long way in helping you prepare for junior hockey. Make sure you take the time to prepare for camps with skating and skills sessions. Another good tip is to arrive a day early to the camp, check out the rink and the facilities, and try and do a skate (or at least dry land workout) so your body can become acclimated to the climate, altitude, time change, and other factors.

Above all, remember to stay humble, work hard, and play smart, and your hockey future will remain full of hope and promise no matter where you play.

If you are interested in finding out about junior hockey main camps in your area or are interested in playing junior hockey, email


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