Off-Season Hockey Training
Off-season on Dry Land by eRix
Improving ones hockey skills does not always entail practicing drills on the ice. There are always some practice time away from the rink that can enhance your ability for when you are on the ice and moving at full speed. A couple of critical aspects of stick handling is the ability to control the puck through your peripheral sight and feel; with the feel of the puck on the stick being the most important aspect because it enables you to concentrate your vision on watching out for where you are headed, as well as for where your teammates are at on the ice. A few of these drills might seem improbable of enhancing your skill but the drills are designed for repetition of movement which forms a foundation for your hand-to-eye coordination.
An example of a short drill as noted by Mike Hartman and Sam Mercurio in 'STAY IN SHAPE BUT HAVE FUN' is to "work on little things like stickhandling. Take out a golf ball and stickhandle in the driveway for an hour or so. Controlling the golf ball will further enhance your hand-eye coordination and, again, you will be amazed at the difference when you step back onto the ice in the fall" (www.hockeycoach.com). For all practical purposes, all you need for stick handling improvement is your hockey stick and something to hit. Common choices for something to hit can be: golf ball (as stated before), tennis ball, roller hockey ball or puck, racket or hand ball, or any comparable sized object in your vicinity. Balls tend to work the best for drills off the ice because the ball naturally returns to the shooter, depending on where you are practicing.
Another fun drill to practice is to take a hockey stick, a tennis ball wrapped in 1-layer of hockey tape to lessen the bounce, a brick wall, and something to mark the wall with. Chalk can be used on the wall, but you do not want someone accusing you off graffiti; therefore, it is best to take some hockey tape and stick it on the wall. If you want the exact dimension of a regulation goal, 72"x48" what most goals opening are scaled at; however, for your purposes, just put a large rectangle of tape on the wall with the corners marked as targets. Try to copy the dimensions in this diagram. Another idea is to transpose this diagram onto a piece of plywood, which can be transported to where you want to practice.
Once you have this shooting target, you can begin to repeated shoot for the corners with your various shots. A way for you to see where your shots hit is to dampen the wrapped ball with water, which should leave a water mark where it hits; the water also adds to the ball's weight since it is not as heavy as an ice puck. This drill should not be rushed because you want to assign a number of direct hits to each corner triangle (15 per corner) before shooting at the next corner. The higher the number of direct hits you assign to each corner will gradually lead to an increase of your hand-to-eye coordination because you are not just haphazardly shooting at a goal. You need to take your time to aim at each target mentally, locate the ball, and then shoot at the target while your is head up looking at it. Hitting the corner successfully while your head is up will also increase your confidence and feel for shooting by relying on your peripheral vision. You can call it looking out of the corner of you eyes, or how you see the ice.
Battling the off season blues should not be wasted by laying around watching TV or playing video games. You could take the initiative to improve your stickhandling and shooting aim by practicing these fun, basic fundamental drills mentioned in this article. You could come up with a new drill of your own that builds your own confidence. The main point is to take some quality time in practicing stickhandling and shooting. The more often you practice, the easier and more natural handling a ball or puck will become to you. The benefits you will receive from this diligent practice will be realized when you return to the ice for the beginning of next season. Your teammates will be really pleased that you took the time off the ice and used it to your and their advantage.
eric smith tampa florida b.a. marketing usf a.s. computer information systems hcc http://www.aimhockey.com