More improvements and a big mistake.
It’s Wednesday, that means it was time for a new week of ABC Class up at Union College.
This weeks class followed the same basic structure as the past two weeks, so I won’t go into too much detail as to what the individual drills were. One added bonus this week was that we had three instructors on the ice and a smaller group of beginner skaters than normal, so we all got A LOT of individual attention, which is always a bonus for us newbie players. The main focus of tonight’s skating instruction was edge work. If you aren’t familiar with how ice skates work; the bottom of the skate blade, while it looks flat actually has a slight concave, creating two edges: your inside edge and your outside edge. Once you get past the basics, 90% of advanced skating skills heavily involve the edges of the blades. This is an area that even professionals work on constantly. If you want an example, here is a link to Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, one of the best in the world working on his ability to use his edges. Turning, cross overs, skating backward and stopping are all reliant on having good control of the edges of your skate. Needless to say, having sharp skates is a necessity to using your edges as well. Welp, that would be part of where I screwed up tonight. As a new skater, I’m not always 100% sure of how my skates should feel or when they need to be sharpened unless I’m falling while turning. Katie (the new instructor from last week) gave me a good tip to share; if you run your fingernail across the edge of the blade, you should have some small shavings come off your nail if the blade is sharp. You need to test the entire length of the blade, as there can be dull spots along different parts of the edge and even a small dull spot can cause you to wipe out. She’d pointed this out to me, as when attempting cross overs for a drill, I was apparently doing everything right, but losing my edge and ending up butt first on the ice. Good to know for the future!
The stick handling and shooting drills of the class came next. With three instructors, we got to rotate through three stations; one focusing on just shooting, one on passing and the third combining the two skills. I felt pretty good shooting the puck tonight, but the most interesting station was the passing station. This station featured what I can only describe as a giant, extra heavy puck. This was used to make us focus on both following through the pass and having soft hands when receiving passes from your teammate. This massive puck made me feel like I wanted a stiffer stick! Products like this puck is one of the things I’ve found most fascinating about hockey. There is so much equipment and training gear for the sport that I had no idea existed until I started playing. Just take a look on one of the retailers; stick handling balls, goalie screens for your net to shoot against, games that help you stick handle better; there are just SO many gadgets to use to help you improve your game.
The class once again closed with a full scrimmage, which of course is awesome. Tonight the defense was short-handed (again) so I played some D tonight. Most of our defense was made of newer players, so us newer defenders made it a point to pick the brain of Chris, the veteran defender of our squad. He gave some great points on how to position during different phases of the game. I felt I had a pretty solid scrimmage minus one MASSIVE mistake. I was in my own defensive zone and I attempted to clear a puck, it ended up bouncing off a stick and back in front of goal and I had another shot to clear the puck from the zone. I whiffed. Hard. The opponents took advantage and the puck was soon in the back of the net. Having to sweep the puck out of the back of your own net and apologize to your goaltender doesn’t feel great. I did almost make up for it on a later shift with a few decent clearances, but that one mistake sticks out in my mind as something I hope to never repeat.
All together, it was another fantastic, tiring and fun class tonight. I stuck around for a few minutes after class to talk to the instructors, as they both know my friend who’s getting married this weekend and I wanted to share the news with them (Shout out to Baxter!). We ended up chatting about the league I want to play with this year and Tommy (one of the instructors) told me he didn’t think I was too far off from being able to play at that level! That was great to hear after struggling so badly in my first two sessions of classes and really only feeling like I was starting to get better in this, my third session. Hearing that, October and the season can’t come soon enough!
- Site Note – With my friend getting married this weekend (I’m in the wedding), and Logan (my significant other) having surgery yesterday, this will likely be my only post for this week. Next week I should return back to the usual 3 times per week schedule. I’m still looking for contributors, so if you have a sports story to tell or want to share an experience that makes a certain sport or team special to you, let me know and we can get your story on this site! Thanks for reading and following PJ Sports Life, I’ll be back on Monday, August 19th, 2019.
Just a guy who loves sports.