Goals For The Off-Season

by Patti Singer
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As adults, we have lots of things besides our recreation to keep us busy – work, family, friends.

So to ask the mature player what she’s doing to get ready for next season may bring a short answer: Trying to remember where I put the gear and how to put it on.

Point well taken.

But the off-season isn’t just for washing the equipment and packing it away. As you watch your kids at tryouts for their next year’s team, or as you see some slick moves in the NHL playoffs, think about an area in which you want to improve.

It seems to me that the move of the year has been slipping the puck between your skates and picking it up with enough speed to get around the defender. When I see guys do that in pickup games, or when I see it on TV, I think, “Yeah, that’d be cool to do.”

I’ve been practicing it, with various levels of success. Now I’m breaking it down into its components of stickhandling, balance and keeping your head up to see the opponent that you are about to make look foolish.

Each of those skills can be developed in the off-season.

Here’s The Game Plan

Stickhandling: Doing wrist curls can build the forearm strength needed to be strong on your stick and make a quick pull. Having the right size stick – junior or at most an intermediate – will help. For wrist curls, hold a light weight (from 1 to 5 pounds) in your hands, palms up and elbows bent. Curl your wrists toward your biceps. Then rotate your arms so your palms are facing down. Pull the backs of your hands up. Keep a steady rhythm and don’t jerk your wrists up and down.

Balance: Spend as much time as you can on one foot. When at the counter chopping veggies for dinner or later when washing dishes, stand first on one foot and then the other. When you do upper body weights, stand on one foot. As your balance improves, stand on an uneven surface, such as a wobble board or a Bosu when you practice stickhandling.

Head up: Whenever you do a hockey drill, make sure your gaze is out front, not down at your feet. Try this: Stickhandle in the dark. Go down to the basement and turn the light off. Practice feeling the puck rather than seeing it.

Working on each component will help build the skills and confidence to try a slick move next season.

Patti Singer of Rochester, N.Y., writes about health and is a certified personal trainer and owner of FitRight In. She has played on two over-30 teams in the USA Hockey Women’s Nationals and is in her second season as an on-ice official.