Monday, August 31, 2009

Ash on my hockey pants; wrist-shot ruminations

It was certainly a weird weekend in my neck of the woods in Pasadena. We have the huge Station Fire burning in the extremely rugged, steep San Gabriel Mountains just north of my homestead, so it's been four days of smoke and ash.

In fact, just as I was leaving for stick time at the Pasadena rink on Saturday I received a pair of emails from a couple of my hockey buddies from my Wednesday evening hockey class. One of them was evacuating his homestead in La Crescenta (it's a couple suburbs) due to the approaching flames.

He was bummed, of course -- in part because the evacuation would mean he would miss stick time. Spoken like a true hockey player, sir! The good news is that as of this morning his neighborhood is doing fine. It was also strange to walk into the backyard Sunday and find my hockey gear -- I leave it on the patio to dry -- covered with ash (the white dots in the pic).

As for stick-time, I left a little disappointed. The pickup game part was fun (although I'd like to issue a cheery "fuck you" to the older dude who thought slashing was an acceptable form of defense) but I'm working on my wristshot and progress is slow.

In particular, I'm trying to being able to take the puck from behind me and fling it at the target by rolling my wrist and turning the blade of the stick over. But I wasn't really getting the hang of it -- particularly the weight transfer from the back to front leg. The result is there are times I look like a major douchebag and my shot is lacking the velocity it needs to have any credibility.

Of course, there appear to be no less than one googlypillion websites devoted to helping employed people spend their work days using the internet to help them improve their shot. One video I like is from former U.S. women's team member Nicole Uliasz:

Earlier this year three Canadian researchers from McGill University published a paper on the mechanics of a wristshot and the variables that make some shots more accurate. They found that more expert shooters tend to keep the puck closer to the center of the curve of their stick blade and that the puck is usually closer to their skates before taking a shots. Novice players keep the puck further from their sticks.

My first observation, of course, is that you have to admire the priorities of Canadian researchers! I suggest next they study the optimal time to drink a beer during a pro game -- so that you have to pee exactly as the bathrooms clear during intermission. Ha ha ha. That said, it's something to think about -- I know the closer the puck is to my skates, the more trouble I have getting some oomph behind it.

Here's another website that suggests 50 to 100 pushups, pullups and situps each day is the key to building the variety of muscles needed for a good wristshot. The site also recommends taking shots until you can't hold your stick any longer. Sounds like a plan!

--Steve Hymon

1 comment:

  1. Steve,
    I'll be playing with Scott at a tournament in Vegas at the end of September - he suggested reading your blog.
    In response to your query, the optimal time to finish consuming a beer during a hockey game is 6:30 into the third period. By this time the urinal crowds have thinned out; the people who spent the first half of the game getting liquored up in the restaurant have realized they have no shot with any of the babes there; and fathers with young kids bored out of their minds are finished their bathroom duties and heading for the parking lot.
    If you want to work on your wrist shot, drink more beer in larger containers. Forearm strength is where it is at.
    I enjoy your blog, I'll be sure to thank Scott when I see him in a couple of weeks.