Tuesday, September 1, 2009

He shoots -- but he often doesn't score!

One of the reasons that I spend 96.4 percent of my waking hours thinking about hockey is that everything is new to me. When I decided to learn to play earlier this year, I knew almost nothing about the sport -- other than I liked going to L.A. Kings games.

The challenge, of course, is that there are so many different skills to work on I often don't know where to start. That said, now that I'm at least playing in some pickup games, I'm trying to think a little bit more about strategy -- even if the skills to execute the strategy are, shall we say, not quite evolved. Or, in my case, still trying to climb out of the sea and make land.

I stumbled over this page on the Womens Hockey Web while searching for tips on shooting mechanics. The page includes this fun, rudimentary chart shown below on ways to set the goalie up to fail. The idea is simple: Use the player in the corner to draw the goalie to one side of the net, allowing the player in the slot to take a shot at the other side of the net.

Of course, it's so simple I had never given it any thought. When I camp out in the slot, I'm usually too busy:

A) Trying not to fall down. 
B) Administering bumps to defenders and being bumped, thus the 'trying not to fall.'
C) Keeping my stick on the ice in an often failed attempt to cleanly receive the pass on my forehand side.
D) Watching the pass glance off my stick and clatter off in the wrong direction and/or the wrong team.

All that said, it's good to start thinking about this stuff even if the skills aren't there to pull it off. I watch a fair amount of the NHL Channel -- much to The Girlfriend's annoyance -- and while a lot of goals in the pros are sweet shots, I'm surprised by how many aren't pretty but instead the result of smart positioning.

--Steve Hymon


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