10 tips to help you better prepare for the playoffs
By Warren Tabachnick
- Bench Most teams see a spike in attendance the first game of the season, and again for the last game of the season and the playoffs. Being playoff ready means you must ensure you have the numbers to be competitive without violating league rules (see Eligibility, below).
- Skill Take a good look at your roster. Do you have the right group of players who can score? Almost if not equally important, do you have guys who can backcheck? As for your defense corps, are they capable of shutting down the opposition? Last but not least, does your goalie have the right work ethic and mental attitude?
- Health Are any of your players sidelined with injuries? Now is the time to make the right moves with your lines, and restructure the team to fill any voids.
- Attitude Do your players have what it takes to overcome any obstacles to winning? Having the right mindset and positive outlook will see you through those tough games, where the tendency is often to give up and come to premature conclusions. Be sure to have a plan in place for when shortening of the bench may be called for. And discuss ahead of time that anyone called upon to give up ice time is OK with that, in order to secure a win.
- Eligibility Now is the time to check your league’s rules and requirements concerning playoff eligibility. Most leagues require that a player must be in good standing with regard to their payment; they must be listed on a team’s roster (no ringers!); and must not be currently suspended. And in many cases, an additional rule for playoff ready eligibility is that a player must have played in a minimum number of regular-season games. The idea behind this rule is to ensure that teams don’t make drastic changes to their structure just for playoff games.
- Record Depending on the league you play in, playoff games that end in a tie may be decided by a variety of factors, such as head-to-head win/loss record, etc.
- Your opponents Have you done your homework regarding the teams you’ll be facing? How did you perform against them during the regular season? Take special note of the players to watch for—their habits and tendencies, etc. React and respond accordingly.
- Strategy Should your team play a little more conservatively against a high-scoring team? Or are your guys better built for a run-and-gun high-scoring game, or a low-scoring match?
- The Celly Many consider this to be the most important part. Who will be bringing the cold ones for your post-series victory celebration? Have you made plans for the team barbecue?
- Looking ahead Be mindful of the implications of playoff success: what happens to your team next season? Will a successful playoff run mean you’ll be moved up a division? Or, conversely, if your team is eliminated, what happens next—who’s staying, who’s going?
Warren Tabachnick is the editor of CrossIceHockey.com—Where Rec Hockey LIVES!