Confession: Hockey practice is often not my most favorite of things. Not because I don’t see the value, but because it often gets repetitive. And if it’s repetitive for me, it’s repetitive for my children.
And when they get bored, they act like they have never been out in public before. They are sitting on the ice. They are hanging off their friends. They’re bumping into one another, cackling like idiots and doing things that generally irritate me.
What they aren’t doing is listening to their coaches. And this is where my patience snaps.
Hockey is supposed to be fun. This is the line for us every time. But for the love of all that is holy, listen to your coaches. OMG, just listen to your coaches.
Every now and then there’s a practice that creeps in from nowhere and steals my breath away. And it sticks in my memory. And stays there. These practices are the reason I am at the rink with them every chance I can be.
Early on in this season, we had one of those. It was early Sunday morning. We packed everyone into the Hockey Van and headed for the rink. HockeyDad is on the ice with two of the teams and in reality, three of us could have stayed home, but we didn’t. I settled the younger two into their usual spot in the lobby with their LEGO and wandered out to the bleachers to watch the oldest practice.
The first drill was to work on direction switches. There were four coaches stationed around the half ice and the kids were to skate around them and halfway around rather than continue forward, they were to switch to skate backwards for what felt like a breath before they switched back and went on to the next coach.
And repeat, repeat, repeat.
People, I watched my oldest do this as a reflex. There was no thought of “I have to do this, this and then this in order to move through the drill”. No it was just do it. It was simply I skate forward then I switch and skate backwards. Easy as breathing for him.
As if this wasn’t enough (because if it were me on the ice, I would have been on my butt rather than my blades), the next drill was to work on backwards crossovers. I didn’t know that he could do those. He’s always done front cross overs naturally (again, this innate grace and athleticism must come from my husband because it certainly doesn’t not come from me) but the backwards ones have always been a little clunky.
I’m going to have to credit summer hockey camp for this one because it’s the only explanation I have. At the end of last season, they were ok, but not great. At the start of this season, almost flawless.
Take another example, Boy #3 is in his last year of Initiation and to keep things interesting for the kids, Coach has been having them face off against one another in practice scrimmages. Boy #3 has taken shots and made passes well above what I ever saw either of his brothers do at the same age. Please don’t misunderstand, he is not the best skater on the ice and he is far from the best player. But he plays in a way I have never seen a 6 year old play.
And not to be left out, Boy #2 has settled into playing defense this year and is thriving. He is getting into the game. He’s keeping the puck in the zone. He’s passing to his team and skates so darn fast (when he wants to, of course).
So maybe hockey practice is not always my favorite thing. But now and again there’s a moment of breathlessness that makes it worth every minute.
See you at the rink,