So my question pertains to a few things. When I first started, I jumped right into drop in hockey. I barely knew how to stop, but practiced at open skates with not so great results. However, I found in game that when I really needed to hockey stop I could do it a lot better 'in the moment'. This meaning I wouldn't THINK about stopping I would just do it because that's what I needed to do. Today I still can't exactly hockey stop when thinking about it, but in game when I need to I just do.
Another instance was in a game tonight. I have NEVER attempted to stop on one leg, let alone my weak side (left). Tonight, however, I was skating hard up the left side forcing the puck carrier up the boards. He stops hard a little past the point; I somehow stop on my left foot only and block his passing and shooting lane.
Is this normal? It's like thinking about it makes me worse at it, but being in the game makes me fine. Does anyone have any input or comments on this?
I would say that your success in games is a result of practicing. That's the point of practicing, to do it over and over again so it comes natural during games. Instead of telling yourself to pivot on your toes, turn your feet, bend your knees, and dig in... you just tell yourself to stop.
Are you sure your practice sessions are going as bad as you think they are?
Starting out I felt the exact same way. If I told myself to stop on the blue line during a general skate, I'd struggle. Put me in a game and the puck changes direction, I could stop fine.
You have to make a conscious effort to get a feel for the ice. Pre game skate, general session, after a game, etc, just try it. Strong and weak side, one foot at a time. It's easiest probably pre game, when the ice is fresh and not chopped up. Just focus on the mechanics, don't be afraid to fall, and over time it'll happen easier and easier.
Like Mr. Melieux said, when you practice anything, you make it routine and commit it to muscle memory so that you do it without thinking in a game situation. This applies to stopping, skating, stickhandling, passing, shooting, everything. Ideally, you would practice everything you do so that in a game situation you almost never think but react purely on instinct. In a game as fast as hockey, at higher levels there isn't time to make decisions constantly.
The other thing is that the saying "practice makes perfect" isn't as accurate as "practice makes permanent", so make sure you're practicing correctly and often, and you'll get it down.
The situation could be that when you are playing hockey you are crouching lower and have the balance and lower centre of gravity that makes stopping a lot easier as opposed to being on your own and possibly skating more upright.
This is normal. When I start thinking about what I'm doing I do horribly. Instinct works a lot better than the mind in hockey.
Also, don't overlook the fact that when you're all armored up in hockey gear your confidence goes way up and you can just DO things, even if you don't realize it. At public skate, if you're like me, you tend to take things a little more easy for fear of hitting the deck hard.
makes sense, you practice so you don't have to think about doing something before you do it. when it comes to stopping most of the time an opposing player will dictate when you need to stop. it should be natural.
I don't believe that it is "thinking vs not thinking" but more like "committing vs not committing". Stopping for beginners, especially adults, is all about commitment and not being afraid of falling. At open skating you have space avalible for negative thoughts that keep you from really going fo it. During the game that space is taken up by lots of other things that are happening during a game.
You obviously have done more work practicing than you think you have. You just need to build confidence and trust yourself that you have done the work. You have proved to yourself that you can do it so now you just need to trust it and grow your confidence.
I have hearg over and over again that the better players don't have to think about skating. They have been on there skates so much that it's more like breathing to skate. Skating just happens. And a skating coach I had told (Well yelled at) me to just do it and stop looking where I'm skating, look at the play (Keep your head up)
Transitions and stopping (Heck I don't think I actually stop anymore) are not anything I actually think I think about anymore in a game but when I'm doing drills my head is in the skating. I get complements on my skating in games but never in practice. Go figure eh.
I have hearg over and over again that the better players don't have to think about skating. They have been on there skates so much that it's more like breathing to skate. Skating just happens.
When you have to think about it, you still have work to do. Practice makes for muscle memory. For me, putting on my skates was like putting on my shoes, it's just natural. When I was a kid, I lived a couple of blocks from the nearest outdoor rink. If the warming shack was closed, I would put on my skates, at home and walk, in them, to the rink to play a pick-up game. When I started refereeing at fourteen, I reffed three games in a row on Saturday mornings. When I was reffing Jr. hockey, I would work a Sunday afternoon game and then go public skating Sunday night. That's another good thing about officiating hockey, you're on the ice for the whole game, not 1-2 minute shifts.
The turning point came for me when someone explained that when you perform a hockey stop, your blades are almost perpendicular to the ice. There isn't nearly as much of an angle as beginners think there is, and you aren't really cutting into the ice. Once I figured that out everything came naturally, and now I never think about it.