Practice Makes Perfect

At last Sunday's practice Lisa had mentioned that she'd seen the Flyers do that breakout drill that we'd found so confusing, and a lightbulb went off in my head: Flyers practices are OPEN. I've been to a Kings practice, and I'd always wanted to go to a Sharks practice, but I had a full-time job when we were living in the Bay Area and could never make the Sharks' practice times. At the moment I'm a stay-at-home mom looking for fun, inexpensive ways to break up my (and Austen's day), and what better way than to go watch an NHL practice? I figured Austen might get a kick out of it, and I might learn something, so on Monday we drove over to the Flyers Skate Zone in Vorhees, NJ and watched about an hour and fifteen minutes of a fairly intense practice session.

getting the scoop

The very first drill the Flyers did was the aforementioned breakout drill, so I got to see how it really worked. I think it would have been helpful for the Admirals if we'd done the basic breakout drill first, because that's what this one was based on. The first part of the drill should not have been executed from a standstill, as I assumed (and as we did it); instead, it was a standard, D passes to D, who passes to Wing, who passes to Center (who was curling down towards the D and then up alongside the Wing) breakout, with everyone moving. The second part involved the forwards turning the play around *as soon as they entered the offensive zone* and passing back to the D, who were not back at the goal line anymore, as I'd assumed they should be, but up between the hash marks and the tops of the faceoff circles. This meant that the second breakout/regroup happened roughly between the faceoff circles and the blueline, depending on which set of forwards and defensemen happened to be doing it.

Anyway, that was about the only drill I immediately recognized and parsed; the rest were a bit too complicated for me to follow, mainly because they were being started from both ends of the ice and then crossing in the middle. For example, there was one drill where the forwards lined up along the boards (i.e., on both sides, making two lines of forwards), and the D lined up in the middle. I could see each end of the D line starting the drill by skating backwards into the closest zone and taking a pass from an assistant coach, but I never did manage to track the forwards. At any point in time there were 6 players skating, two assistant coaches passing, the head coach blowing the whistle to send the next two lines, and the each group of three passing the other in the neutral zone. I think. What I ended up paying attention to instead of the paths of the drills were individual player efforts: The way one guy stickhandled, or shot, or skated. That's when I noticed Forsberg.

carter carrying

Somehow I'd missed the news that the Flyers had acquired Peter Forsberg, but his face and style were unmistakable. It was amazing to see how hard he worked during practice—like every drill was an actual game situation. Very inspiring. It made me want to practice more myself, enough that I went out and hired a new babysitter on Wednesday so I'd have time to go to open hockey sessions at Penn once a week.

I went to another Flyers practice on Thursday, but this one appeared to be optional; the first and second lines weren't there, and neither was the head coach. It looked more like a skate-n-shoot session than an actual practice, though that was educational, too: I got to watch a few of the D practice their slapshots (something I'd like to learn to do properly), as well as a few of the forwards work on faceoffs.

working on faceoffs

On Friday the new babysitter started, and after a few hours of hanging out with her and Austen, I drove over to the Penn ice rink for the open hockey session. Only four of us showed up (none goalies), which is what I'd expected, and why I'd brought four pucks with me. I dumped all four pucks on the ice, adding to the two that were out there, and mostly worked on skating as hard as I could up and down the ice and around the faceoff circles while carrying a puck. I also passed to myself off the boards both forehand and backhand, only shooting on the goal after I'd done a complete loop.

It was HOT in the rink—basically the same temperature as it was outdoors, 75°—and there was a layer of fog covering the ice. It probably would have been perfect for an Ice Capades performance (no fog machine necessary), but for someone doing skating and shooting drills, it was decidedly too warm. I was sweating like crazy, I could feel my face burning, and (probably due more to the cold I acquired recently than the air temperature) my breathing was a bit labored. I ended up passing for a few minutes with one of the two guys who were there and working on my slapshot as well (still feeble, but better than it used to be), but mostly I worked on skating, puckhandling, and shooting on the move. After about 45 minutes I recognized that I could no longer skate at full speed for more than a second or two and decided to quit. Better to quit than to coast.

Apparently those 45 minutes of skating hard were good enough, because I could feel the workout in my butt and legs all day on Saturday, and I can still feel the slapshot work in the crook of my left elbow (I shoot left-handed). There's another Admirals practice tonight, at which we will be scrimmaging against my old team, the Galaxy; hopefully the practices I saw this week and the one I did on my own will inspire me to skate hard, pass hard, and shoot hard—in short, to work hard—just like Forsberg.

forsberg, standing by

Posted by Lori in Admirals ~ Fall/Winter 2005-2006 | October 9, 2005·04:01 PM


A. and I had a sitter for Saturday night and no good plans; we didn't want to go to a movie or theater because we wanted to talk. So we eventually ended up with the idea of going to see the Phantoms. It was great - good exciting game and great extras (presentation of championship rings, "mites on ice" between periods). Anyway, I told A. that you rock in a hockey way and he was impressed.

Posted by: sconstant at October 10, 2005 10:06 AM

Phantoms games are fun! Plus, they're a total bargain—seats on the glass are like 30 bucks. Thanks for the 'rock in a hockey way' comment, too. ;)

Posted by: Lori [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 10, 2005 11:36 PM