Sports Hobbies: Hockey – Honing Your Skills
Username of writer: Jedikat
On a team or playing for fun the sport of Hockey is something that you need to keep your skills up in order to compete. The more skilled you are at the game the better player you will be, and the more you will be wanted to play with others. If you are on a structured team your coach will train you constantly during the season so you are in shape, and know the routines, as well as the current strategy. During the off season though it is up to you to get into shape, or stay in shape so that if you want to continue to play the game you are even better than you were the previous year.
Keeping in shape is more than practicing for your favorite sport. You need to stretch in order to stay limber, no matter which sport you play. It keeps your blood flowing too when you are doing cardio such as running and weight lifting. Use a treadmill or head for a run around your neighborhood to get warmed up before you strap on the skates and build up a sweat. Start indoors and do all the stretching you need so all your muscles are warming and ready to go. This includes toe touches, perhaps some jumping jacks, sky reaches, lunges and squats. Exercise is more than the basics though as you need to push your limits in order to increase your speed and this takes some special techniques that will help you as well as some friendly competition with your friends or team mates.
Choose The Opposite Skate
If you are confused by this subject let me put your fears to rest a little. This doesn’t mean that you put your skates on the wrong feet, that would just hurt. Instead strap on some skates you are not used to being in. For example, if you play ice hockey than get yourself some roller blades or even roller skates. You will find that they are slower than when you are on the ice and perhaps a little less maneuverable than you like them to be. However, they do require less balance than ice skates, although you might need a little help at first. The key to this exercise is that it will help you with balance and speed. As you get faster on the opposite skate than you are used to, you will be faster on the skate that you are used to. Once you get the hang of it, and that might take a little while, start racing as fast as you can. You will find yourself working your muscles and getting faster each time you do it in these skates.
If you are used to playing street hockey with roller blades than try some ice skates and head to your local rink. Here you will learn better balance, as well as what it means to move at a faster speed. This may or may not help with your speed on your roller blades, as sometimes the problem is more mechanical than it is you. Ice skating though will definitely increase and improve your balance when you naturally play roller hockey instead.
(For those that play roller hockey you need to check and change your bearings. These wear out and need to be oiled from time to time. The better the shape they are in the faster you will move. Apec 5 and Apec 7 bearings are fantastic so if you can get your hands on them, do so.)
Puck Handling Drills
Handling the puck while passing and shooting are important parts of the game. You need to know how to do it in motion, on the fly and with little to no thought. You also need to be able to do it backhanded as well, and this takes control. For basic puck handling skill sets you will want to purchase at least one item from a general store or drug store. Grab a pack of red drinking cups, usually found in the aisle with paper plates and napkins. (These are the same kind of cups used for Beer Pong) All of these drills can be done whether you are playing ice hockey or roller hockey.
The first drill is the slalom. First you want to take the cups and set them out at least 2 feet apart but in a straight line. You than start at one end and maneuver the puck in and out of the makeshift cones as fast as you can. Keep doing this drill until you no longer hit any of the cones either with your skates, your stick or the puck. Space the cups farther apart as you are starting and move them closer together for more advanced players. The slalom is used for skating drills as well as puck handling drills.
The second drill is for maneuvering the puck and it is a simple one that will require you to be somewhat motionless. Place the cups about 18 inches apart, but in a triangle. You than maneuver the puck in a figure eight around two of the cups and then around a different two, continuing and repeating a pattern so that you are using the front and back of your stick. Your goal is of course to not hit the cups, keep control of the puck and get comfortable with the backhand.
The last drill can be used with the cups but is better used with a net and a goal blocker. A goal blocker is something that ties to the net and has open holes for you to aim at. These holes are generally placed in the four corners and one in the middle. While this gives you five places to aim and shoot, it’s not very realistic as you won’t be aiming at the goalie in the game but rather at the net behind him/her. The red cups give you smaller, but specific targets to aim for and can be stacked for a larger target. Draw a black X large enough to be seen when shooting the puck, and that is the one you are aiming for.
As you continue to practice these drills in the off season your team mates and coach will be in for a surprise when the season starts.
Another Sport That Helps
If you want to try another sport that will actually help you with your shooting skills, consider the sport of golf. While trying to take a slap shot at a golf ball won’t exactly give you the same results you see in Happy Gilmore, swinging a golf club correctly gives you a little more control. Many professional hockey players take up the sport since it is a relaxed version of the swing, but helps them focus more when doing so. This extra focus helps to improve their shooting when they are on the ice, or in the rink. Whether you are putting with a putter for a long put on the green, or driving up the fairway with a 1 Wood trying to cover some distance the stance is similar when you learn the sport of hockey as well.