When you’re away from the rink there are plenty of ways to keep working on your skills. Whether it’s in your basement, driveway, local tennis court or parking lot, the only thing stopping you is your imagination.
You can always practice your shooting away from the rink. Start by shooting at a target, maybe one that is on a net. My brother and I used to shoot pucks at our garage door. We broke a few windows before we got a net, so be careful.
Another good idea is to string a piece of rope between two trees and drape a heavy blanket over it. Then make a goal using some tape. Put down a piece of Plexiglas or plywood to shoot pucks off of.
Skating is a little more difficult to practice away from the rink because it’s harder to move around. Playing inline hockey is the closest to actually being on the ice. I also recommend using a slideboard. You can get them at many sporting goods stores (or look for ads in USA Hockey Magazine). You can work on your stride and build up muscles in your legs. Try to keep the same form you would use if you were skating.
Passing is a tough skill to work on, especially if you’re by yourself, but there are things you can do. Using tape, mark spots on the garage door or turn a bench on its side. Practice skating with your inline skates and try to pass to the marks while using your forehand and backhand. Or you can get a brother, sister or friend and go up and down the street passing a tennis ball. Work on your eye-hand coordination by flipping a puck up in the air and seeing how many times you can bat it with your stick. When it comes to passing the puck, the key is to control it, not whack it.
Here’s another puckhandling drill. Using an old chair or stool, take a tennis ball and stickhandle it through the legs of the chair. Increase your speed as you get better. When you get good at this, try using a hard-boiled egg. The idea is to have soft hands and not whack at the puck. Try to have as few cracks in the egg as possible. If you’re REALLY good, use a raw egg, but don’t blame me if you make a mess in your mom’s kitchen.
Remember This …
Older kids might want to consider going to the gym and working out. But for everyone, the best advice is just to have fun with it. All kids want to be the best, but ultimately having fun is really what matters most.
photo by Getty Images • Illustrations by Mike Curti