I hit the surface probably 30 minutes early. It had been longer than I wanted since I've been there, and I wanted to familiarize myself with the surface again, and just work on my skills myself. It also helps to warm up as well. I felt like I was flying out there. I felt like I was handling the puck well and skating well.
Brian called me over, and we chatted for a bit. We decided to work on skating. He immediately reminded me of the three things I need to do with my skating stride that I don't do - full extension of my leg as I push off, bend my knees, and keep my chest up and out. It is difficult to break those habits. I don't know if it was because I was hearing it for the 100th time, or because it was someone different, but I felt like it clicked much better. There were a couple of times where I slipped, but I'm OK with that. I felt I did a really good job of putting all of my weight onto one leg as I skate. I normally don't do that well, but I have been focusing on improving my leg strength, so maybe that had a part in it as well.
The Brian wanted to make me run through a few drills to get me to stop thinking, and I felt like it all clicked. It started out with some quick feet, then full strides, into a few quick turns, accept a pass and put the puck on net. Go behind the net and pick up a puck, skate back through the slot, tight turn carrying the puck, stick handle through the pucks, cradle the puck on my forehand, bring it over, then backhand. Got that? Yeah - I felt overwhelmed when he was explaining it, but it just made sense. The first thing he wanted me to correct is in a tight turn to keep my feet in line, rather than side by side. Then he noticed I handle the puck like it is a bouncy ball.
He gave me a great idea that I absolutely loved. When going from side to side, you're supposed to cradle the puck on your stick, even on your backhand, which I never thought to do. I tried to cradle the puck but still couldn't do it. While I thought I was using my top hand to control my stick, he said I wasn't. He grabbed a small piece of PVC pipe and put it over the shaft of my stick, made me hold the PVC piece, and this made me unable to control the stick with my bottom hand. It forces me to rotate my top wrist. It is a damn good drill, so after trying it for a few minutes, I noticed an immediate improvement. Going through the pucks was much easier.
Towards the end, he asked how my one-timers were. I laughed. He asked about my slap shot. I told him I tried it a few times in practice. So I did it naturally how I thought it should be done, and he noticed I golf right away. I brought the stick back behind me, bent my right elbow, rotated my hips and transferred my weight well.But he made me keep the stick square with my chest, no bringing it back. He made me take a very wide grip with my stick. I noticed it was a little bit more consistent, but felt very different. I had a hard time NOT bringing the stick behind me because it is so natural from golf.
That was it for the session. I felt much better. I'm very pleased with the session I had, and I can't wait to try it out later this week.
The session was over, and I went back to practice by myself. I worked more on my hands and my feet. I felt more and more comfortable asking for help, slowing down and practicing things on my own. That PVC pipe was really great, and I'm going to get my own to try out. I should be back next Sunday.