Out of Position

You would think that coaches would know now a days, but clearly they don’t.

Playing a player out of position isn’t developing them it’s hurting them.

Playing a player out of position and giving them no support or guidance is arguably one of the biggest disservices you can do as a coach.

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with a hockey mom and dad about their child.

“Johnny is a natural centre, I’m really pleased with his play and development.”

“Funny you should say that, he was told last season that he wasn’t a centre, they had him on the wing all year,” they replied.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

The stories are well documented throughout the hockey world and it’s history of players moving positions and having success, but those stories are few and far between and only happen in the right circumstances. Perhaps we have to give some coaches a break, due in large part to being told where to play the the player. This happens more and more at the Major Junior ranks with NHL organizations dictating what they need from the player at the next level. Nevertheless, to burry a kid playing at the U-15 or U-18 level on the wing or through the middle for the sake of reinventing the wheel or trying to make them a “top scorer” is absurd really.

“Oh it’s what’s best for the team.”

What about the player?

What about the players development?

You see it all comes back wins and losses, not development.

Could you imagine playing a natural centre on the wing? I can’t, but it happens all the time.

It’s like some coaches want some players to fail, or maybe they just are oblivious.

When players play out of position they look lost and it’s not hard to tell they’re lost by their style of play.

“Oh by the way we want you to play this position this year, it’s the best option for you.”

No it’s not, it’s the best option for the entitled coach and perhaps organization. Again this doesn’t and repeat doesn’t apply for elite levels, this applies for the minor hockey ranks.

Converting a player’s position takes time, it takes support, it takes patience, it takes buy in, but more importantly it better be happening for all the right reasons.

Every coach is entitled to juggle

their lines, but to play a player out of position is just plain wrong on so many levels.

Experimentation is one thing, leaving the player in that situation for the entire season is truly idiotic.

Over the course of my journey in scouting, I’ve witnessed players that are played out of position all of the time, it’s truly unfortunate to see, because you don’t get to see the true player, you see the potential, but that’s about it.

“We discussed it and for the sake of the player and their chances to play at the next level we thought a move to the position in question would be what’s best.”

Do you think that is being said to young players and their families?

I highly doubt it.

This is not about the versatility of the player or coaching genius, this is about setting up the player to have success, not failure.

For all the players out there playing out of position, I see you, try to make the best of it, work hard, talk to your teammates, but more importantly talk to your coaches. Ask them the tough questions, make sure they are providing the guidance and support you need.

You might be playing out of position and everyone knows it, keep working through it, hopefully you won’t be put in that situation for very much longer.

Keep the faith, some will recognize where you should be playing.

One comment

  1. Craig,
    I disagree with you on this.? You line up in assigned positions . Once the puck is dropped it is 1-2 -3-4-5 Hockey. The game is not there yet. It presently is 1-2-3 ( F1 F 2 F3) and is becoming 1-2-3-4-5.

    If you can count to 3 you can play hockey today. If you can count to 5 you will be able to play hockey tomorrow.

    Players will FIO figure it out.


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