This week we begin working on our next round of Player Rankings.  If you haven’t seen it yet, we posted an update in January that explains what rankings we’ll be doing for each class and when we expect to release them.  You can view that post here.

We wanted to take the opportunity to share a little more about our Player Ranking process.  While it is in no means a black and white or linear process, similar steps are followed each time around.  Specific rules and criteria are avoided when doing Player Rankings because there are situations where incredibly talented players would be missed or underrated simply because they didn’t participate in futures, were injured or overlooked at selections, are a defender or subtle player who might not stand out in certain situations, etc.  There are a number of situations where this could be the case.  Also, we want to get these rankings as “right” as we can as of the time we are releasing them, not just as of last summer when selections were made.  Some players have shown incredible development since the last awards or selections and we want to account for that.

Since our first ever Player Rankings we did starting with the Class of 2017 (View Final Class of 2017 Rankings), we have been collecting data on each class of field hockey players.  We currently have data through the Class of 2026.  This data ranges from the simplest to track selections like USA Field Hockey Junior National Teams, Junior National Camp selections, Stars & Stripes Elite Game selections, AAU Junior Olympics, National Futures Championships– all of MAX Field Hockey’s High School Awards (Preseason Players to Watch, All-Region Teams, All-American Teams) and even the players we considered for those awards, and other selections like the Under Armour Select Game.

Player Ranking feedback has always been accepted from any individual [Read how to submit feedback] and we add that to the data on these players each time we receive it.  We look through our college commitment database for any players we might be missing who have committed to top programs.  We sort through the top State and Conference High School awards and add any players we think deserve a closer look.  Our final step in putting together our big list for each class is looking through our Player Profile database to see if there are any deserving players not yet on our list.  This is where players can create a free profile that is hosted on MAX Field Hockey and keep it updated with their latest honors and accomplishments in all areas- High School, Club, and USA Field Hockey/Other.  We literally go through every single player profile for the class we are working on.

For our Top 10, we always put together a list of potential Top 10 players (~15-20) and reach out to the top coaches in the game for feedback (we will not share who these individuals are).  That feedback generally points to 5-7 players unanimously and then we fill in the remaining spots with the ones who received the most “votes.”  Something to remember is that this is all subjective.  Coaches have different opinions on who the top players are.  They may prefer different styles of play, size of players, value certain positions and roles more than others.  There is no right or wrong answer or vote, it is their opinion and we aim to collect enough feedback to find the overlap that points to certain players over others.  Also, coaches have different experiences working with the players being considered and some of that feedback should be weighted more heavily than others.

From there, it is really an art.  It is knowing which Futures regions are the strongest and hardest to get selected out of, and which High School state and conferences are the toughest to get recognized in.  It is also knowing where Futures selections and High School awards don’t necessarily point to the top players.  It is knowing how the clubs do in national competition and which High School programs are the strongest.  It is knowing which individuals give honest and realistic feedback on players.  We have seen how certain players from different areas and programs go on to do at the collegiate level, so we can factor that in.  These are just a couple examples of the type of information we consider when comparing players from different areas.

After the Top 10, we move onto the Top 50 and sort and filter and bump players up and down as we compare all of the data and information we have.  We reach out to coaches and clubs for more information to finalize decisions until we have filled all categories.  The final decisions are generally the most difficult, where players are very evenly matched.  There is no set criteria we follow in making these final decisions.  We do the best we can with the information we have and following the knowledge we’ve gained over the last 4 years of doing these.

As you can see, we put an incredible amount of time into collecting as much information as we can to make the best decisions we can.  Please be patient as we work hard on this next round- there is no set date they will be released.  They will be released when we are confident in the information we have and the ranking lists we have put together.

Hopefully this gives you a little insight into our process and how we come to our final rankings. MAX Field Hockey’s Player Rankings are something we are very proud of!  We look forward to sharing our updated/new Class of 2023, 2024, and 2025 Player Rankings with you sometime this spring!