When I first started training for beer league hockey, one of my rules was to spend next to no money on it. I stuck to that for several months. Then I made a conscious decision to break the rule for the sake of two 25-pound weight plates, at a total cost of $50. Then, a few months later, I did it again, shelling out $85 for 200 pucks so I could start working on my shot. Since then, as I’ve gotten increasingly serious about my training, I’ve executed a figurative toe drag around the spending rule a few times in order to acquire an item that I deemed absolutely necessary.
Then, about a year ago (and a full year into my training lifestyle), my employment situation improved and I suddenly had a bit of money to spend here and there. Although I refrained from gleefully rubbing my hands together, I officially abandonned the no-spending rule. I adopted the mentality that this is a hobby and hobbies cost money.
The result of this shift is that I now have a fair collection of training paraphernalia. Some of it is run-of-the-mill; some of it is highly specialized. Here’s a list.
- 25-pound free weights (2)
- 200 pucks
- puck boards (2) for shooting and stickhandling
- heavy duty clamps for holding up shooting blanket (now retired since I've switched to shooting at an actual hockey net)
- various stickhandling balls and pucks
- 3 sports T-shirts and a pair of athletic shorts (I bought the shorts at a thrift store)
- running shoes
- Powerskater skating machine
- gym timer
- power skating lessons
- radar gun
- sports netting
- hockey net
Of all the items on the above list, there are a couple that I would classify as transformative. The first is the Powerskater. This is an exercise machine that duplicates the skating stride while employing stretchy cords to provide resistance. This machine is recommended by my training book and, according to exhaustive online research I conducted, is the only such machine in existence, in North America anyway.
I’ve been using the machine regularly since I acquired it at the start of the 2014-15 season. It helps build strength, power and endurance in the legs and also improves skating technique. Last season, after having used the machine for a few weeks, I noticed that my strides were more forceful and efficient.
The second transformative purchase wasn’t a physical object but rather a service – the power skating lessons I took earlier this summer. These were truly eye-opening, bringing me a whole new level of understanding of skating mechanics. My challenge now is to convert this understanding to muscle memory, a transfer that would require a considerable amount of practice – difficult to arrange for someone without access to daily ice time.
Despite the fact that I’ve acquired a fair amount of training stuff, that isn’t the focus of this project and never has been. I always smile inwardly when I hear people declare that they’re starting an exercise program, touting the purchase of a gym membership, exercise class or apparatus as proof of their commitment. I know that’s not what it’s about. A person who is committed to exercising can get a good start in an empty room using only his body.
On the other hand, a few well chosen items can focus the training so it aligns with a person’s specific goals, which is what I’m finding to be very beneficial about the various tools that I’ve acquired. A few of these things are so precious to me that I’d sleep with them if I could. Unfortunately, my wife refuses to acquiesce to such desires, citing the fact that our matrimonial vows made no mention of sleeping with a skating machine. A lesson for all you younger guys out there.