New Season, New Team

Sunday night I attended my first practice with our new team, the Philadelphia Admirals. I recognized a couple players from the games the Galaxy played against them this summer—most notably Lisa, who I'd spotted early on as the only other regular girl in the league (I never saw the amazingly good UW player and the girl goalie again after our first contest against the Admirals). It turns out that Lisa plays for the Philadelphia Freeze B team and is a certified coach, so she ran the practice.

I can't point to any one drill that was particularly strenous or complicated, but TWO DAYS LATER I AM STILL TIRED. Good lord, I need to get in better hockey shape! There's nothing like three rounds of Russian circles (one forwards, one backwards, and one transitioning), followed by a blueline-and-back, redline-and-back, and goal-line-and-back puck drill, followed by several rounds of skating/racing through cones, followed by a two-man-weave passing drill, followed by a triangle drill, followed by a half-ice 4-on-4 scrimmage to wear you out. (I might have missed something in there; the lack of oxygen and water definitely fogged my brain. For some reason, I never remember that I need *more* water for practices than games, not less.)

Yesterday I was probably more worn out from the 1:30am bedtime/6:30am wakeup and from dehydration than from the skating itself, though today I'm definitely feeling the workout in my hips. Although it made walking around the city with the stroller tough, I actually like the ache—it reminds me that I worked hard, and that I still have a long way to go to be a better hockey player.

Of course, my performance in the drills was an even bigger reminder of how far I have to go than the current ache in my hips. I had this illusion that I could skate backwards...until I had to do those Russian circles. That's when I remembered I'd never really learned how to cross over while going backwards. I can get my feet to *almost* cross, but I can't get them to go all the way. Mostly I just end up wiggling my butt to propel myself. (And when I play D, I usually cheat by turning around and skating forwards most of the time, acting more like a backchecking forward than a proper defenseman. It's why I only play D if no one else can, or if I'm playing down a level.)

Any illusion that I'm speedy also went out the window. By the end of the evening, I felt like I was skating through molasses. Heck, by the *middle* of the evening—when we did the relay race through the cones—I found that I topped out at about third gear. I tried to kick it up a notch for the race back to the goal line, but there was no notch to kick it up to. I realize that I really do need the rest periods between shifts to give my all in a game, and that I could be doing more both on the ice and off to get faster (as well as quicker).

I did the forward Russian circles (our first drill) at a pretty good clip, possibly on the assumption that there would be breaks between the drills where I could catch my breath. With only 9 of us at the practice, though, the breaks were short—there was no line to stand at the back of and whoof air. By the time we got to the cone drills, any speed I'd had was utterly gone. I remarked to Lisa that the cones made good stand-ins for opponents, as I did the same thing when I got near them that I did when I got near other players in a game: namely, slow down to 1/4 speed. She replied, "go full speed! It's practice—don't worry about falling down." Sadly, I was more worried about tripping over the cones because I was too tired to cut than about falling because I'd taken the corners too fast. I kinda wish we'd done that drill when I had more energy, because I would have liked to practice hitting the code course at full speed—and trying to maintain that speed as much as possible. I remember trying this using Al as a cone one time, and it took me several attempts before I could skate at him without slowing down.

The two-man weave drill struck me as really useful, though I only seemed to be able to remember to weave once. After that, I would turn it into a standard skate-down-the-ice-while-passing-back-and-forth drill, to the confusion (and I'm sure dismay) of my passing partner. The first of my two favorite drills was the triangle one, where three of us would take off from the boards in the neutral zone, skate a figure-8 around the cones, and then break into the zone, with the first person going to the left faceoff circle, the second to the right faceoff circle, and the third to the high slot. Lisa would pass to one of us, that person would consider his/her passing options, and the last person to get the puck would shoot on net. (See crappy, self-drawn diagram below.) The hardest part for all of us (except Dan, who got it right away) was figuring out which side of the cones we needed to skate on in order to break into the zone properly. :)

the triangle drill

My second favorite drill was the blueline-and-back, redline-and-back, goal-line-and-back puck drill, even though I sucked at the redline-and-back part, which required us to skate backwards with the puck. Actually, that's why I liked it: because it forced me to skate backwards with the puck in a way I'd be likely to do in a game.

Our next practice is next Sunday, and I can't wait. I'm hoping to meet some more players next time, and that Al will be able to come, too. (If he does, we'll probably take turns holding Austen—and as long as we're not working on shooting, we might be able to switch off right out on the ice.) In the meantime, I should probably start working on my stamina. I wonder if vacuuming the house while wearing a 23 lb. toddler on my back, as I did today, will help?

Posted by Lori in Admirals ~ Fall/Winter 2005-2006 | September 27, 2005·09:43 PM