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02-09-2010, 04:28 PM
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seventieslord's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Regina, SK
Country: Canada
Posts: 23,322
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How do I get better?

I quit hockey when I was 15. I was never that great. I was a decent defenseman who had very little offensive upside. Scarred by fear of screwing up, I was content to make the easiest, safest play available to me. I was not a player who "took initiative", so to speak. I was never given a chance to hone my blast from the point because they would rather I just dumped it in the corner or passed to my partner. I was good enough to contribute to a championship team in my final year without screwing anything up, and then I quit.

In the summer of '08, when I was coming 27, my brother convinced me to join "D" level Adult Safe hockey. I was apprehensive but bought some cheap equipment and gave it a shot. As it turns out, I'm still pretty decent. I am still pretty low-key and want to make safe plays. I screw up with the puck surprisingly little, and when I do, it is not for lack of knowing where the puck should go or trying to put it there, the error is simply in the execution.

I figured that I had much more room to improve and play myself into game shape than other players did, because they had already been playing adult safe for X number of seasons, and I hadn't been. That was correct, but it seems that I've plateaued now. My room for improvement is only the same as anyone else's by now. And I don't like where I sit.

In D hockey, I'm pretty much the same player I was as a kid. I seem to have an eye for when to rush the puck now, and I do ok with it, until I eventually get forced to the outside with not many options because I'm apparently not too creative. Probably not having a coach screaming at me helps, too. I also play forward about half the time. My big frame gives them trouble in front of the net, but for the life of me I can't tip a slapshot and I never seem to be the one who gets to that juicy rebound.

I decided this season that I wanted to play on two teams to "speed up" my development, so to speak. I can't improve myself in relation to everyone else if they're all getting the same practice as me, so now I play twice as often. I joined an E team, and I'm noticeably better in E than in D. (surprise, surprise) People actually pass the puck to me and look at me as one of our team's offensive threats. I have nearly double the points per game in E as I do in D. But still, I feel like I could be better. Like there's something in me just needing to be brought out somehow.

I just feel like although my head is in it, I can't always "do" what my brain says I want to do. Especially when an opposing player is trying to stop me from doing it. When he is successful at that, I take it as a personal defeat because I am competitive. Am I clumsy? Lacking agility? Lacking speed? I dunno.

What are some quick and cheap ways to improve my skills? All I want is to be a very good D or E player, I'm not asking a lot.

Main issues:

- Footspeed isn't great. OK top speed, poor acceleration.
- Can't seem to onetime a fast pass if my life depended on it.
- Never seem to have the stamina to make that extra push to catch a player, despite really wanting to.
- Really bad one-on-one. As a defenseman, can get beaten to the outside so easily. Have stuck to skating forward almost exclusively but even that isn't foolproof.
- Offensively, I find it practically impossible to beat a guy one on one. I just get forced to the outside or have it tipped away. I feel so behind the guys who spent their whole childhoods deking guys out.
- Can't seem to "create room" for myself. For example, if I was forced to the outside, I could slam on my brakes and stop, survey my options quickly and make a good pass, but I always feel like my checker is closing in on me and I need to get rid of it, then I dump it into the corner and hope for the best ,or put it past him into a small crowd where my teammate may or may not get it. Why does it seem they give the best players time to do these things? I never feel like I have time.
- Occasionally can rip an amazing slapshot (usually when it's passed to me fast or when I am skating fast) but more often than not, it's rather weak and I'd prefer not to use it.

Anything I can do mentally or physically to get better? Is it just a matter of getting into better physical shape? I'm not in bad shape at all (6'2", 185 lbs, below average body fat, average muscular strength) in fact I appear to be in better shape than 3/4 of the league. But many players in a lot worse shape than me seem to be able to do a lot more.

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