For most of the summer, I've been taking a Wednesday night learn-to-play hockey class for adults at the Pasadena rink. The thing most surprising to me is how many dudes there are in their 30s and 40s trying to learn this obscenely difficult sport. Speed + dexterity + balancing on two thin metal blades = really f-----g difficult.
In most weeks, we do drills for about 30 or 45 minutes and then scrimmage the rest of the time. I love the scrimmage and have learned to despise any drills involving pylons. Pylon drills, of course, require somewhat precise skating and stickhandling abilities, skills that I only seem to have when I'm asleep and dreaming.
One of the drills the other night involved two groups of guys lining up on both sides of center ice. A guy on one side would pass to the other side, then chase his pass, scoot around a pylon and receive the pass back from the other dude and then take a shot on goal. Sounds simple, right?
Not really. First of all, the whole alternating sides thing ignited one giant Brain Fart within yours truly. The drill itself wasn't that hard -- it was keeping track of it and figuring out who to pass to and when. The coach -- the same dude I hired to teach me to skate -- was beside himself. He learned to play on an outdoor rink in Siberia. It must have looked like half of us were on peyote.
What drove Coach crazy was the passing. Logic would dictate that if you're dispatching a pass to a guy skating toward goal, the pass should probably be in front of the guy. Our passes were all over the place, leading Coach to gather us in a circle and offer up this tidy piece of advice:
"Don't Pass in the Ass. Never Pass in the Ass."
Coach went on to explain that a pass in back of the player is going to result in two bad things a player on the other team likely grabbing the puck and being off to the races against a mostly undefended goal.
On the other hand, even if a pass is way out in front of the player breaking on goal, at least that player has the chance to divert and chase the puck down in his own offensive zone. Coach also reminded us to always put your stick blade down on the ice as a target for those passing to you.
Yeah, I know. It's basic stuff. But I put it here as a good reminder. Do Not Pass in the Ass.
BTW, the hockey class I take in Pasadena on Wednesday nights is called Hockey 1 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. A new 10-week session begins Sept. 9, I'm told, and the class is geared toward adults. The rink's website is a mess, so I'll double-check that. It's usually $15 a week.
Come on out -- you can't be worse than me. If you're an adult beginner and have questions, feel free to email me or leave a comment.