Beyond conditioning

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Years ago, and for several consecutive years, I traveled with my beer-league buddies each spring to a weekend recreational tournament in the resort town of Banff. One of the perks of this hockey getaway was that a video replay was screened in the arena lounge following each game. This provided us weekend warriors a rare opportunity to see ourselves play on TV. We took full advantage.

Seeing my hockey-playing self on video was both encouraging and discouraging. On the encouraging side was the instant impression of, “Wow, that guy’s pretty fast.” But almost immediately came the question, “Why doesn’t he do something?” You see, I fit the stereotype of the small speedster who looks dangerous as he races around accomplishing little.

The problem was that I lacked the puck-handling skills and the confidence required to maintain puck possession when challenged by an opponent, so whenever I had the puck I got rid of it at the first sign of pressure, either passing it to the nearest teammate or just dumping it to a safe area.

This spring, when I decided to train seriously for the upcoming season, one of the deciding factors was the realization that I could take my training beyond conditioning by also working on hockey skills like stickhandling, shooting and skating.

All these skills can be improved in a dryland setting and I’m in the process of either doing that or getting set up to do it. This is taking some doing because, in order to take a solid run at these issues, I’ve concluded that I need to acquire some equipment.

A quick Internet search will turn up a plethora of stuff that’s available to help hockey players improve their game, not to mention empty their wallets. (This site is one I’ve consulted on numerous occasions: Navigating the hockey training marketplace to distinguish the useful from the frivolous has been a time-consuming chore, but I’m close to completing a list of select items that I believe will help me develop my skills. Soon it will be time to crack open the wallet and go on a bit of a spending spree.

This will be a direct violation of my hockey training rule No. 1 but I’ve done a serious rethink of this rule given that I’m dedicating this summer to taking this hobby to another level. 

And besides, what good is a hobby if it doesn’t involve buying stuff?