Author Topic: A total noob to Ice Hockey - sore and loving it  (Read 9148 times)

AndyinSwindon

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A total noob to Ice Hockey - sore and loving it
« on: January 18, 2017, 07:42:37 AM »
Well, after a whirlwind introduction into the work of Ice Hockey, I've decided to document my progress, to share my experiences with other players, gain any worthwhile advice, and publicly humiliate myself!
It all started in December 2016, when, on a whim, I booked tickets for a local Swindon Wildcats game for myself and my son as a treat.  It was one of those 'always meant to do but never got around to it' experiences, and after watching our first game (we lost to Telford 6-5), we were hooked.
Leaving the game I asked my son 'how do you fancy us both signing up to ice skating lessons'.  It's always been one of those things I have wanted to be able to do, having hit the ice once or twice in my life in rental skates, but never really learned properly.  He was keen, and so we signed up.
As a Christmas gift, I bought him a Wildcats jersey, and after chatting with the girl in the merchandise store, I was told that the Wildcats run kids 'learn to play' sessions every Friday evening.  So, a day before Xmas Eve, we turned up and off my son went (he's 10, very little experience on the ice).  We were greeted at the Link Centre by Sam Bullas of the Wildcats, who gave a mighty grin when we asked about the session, and displayed his dental gaps proudly....."there you go son, that could be you" :-)
After a dramatic hour, my son came back off of the ice, elated and sweaty.  And very bruised.  First purchase - elbow and shin guards.
The second week, he went out on the ice, happily sliding about on his new pads ("erm, that's not quite the point son").  Again, he finished, elated, sweaty.....but less bruised. 
Prior to week 3, his enthusiasm hadn't dampened, and so we popped into our LHS for new skates....if he's going to learn, he may as well have his own.  At that point I just sighed, and made the decision "ok, let's do it, let's kit you out".  Leaving the store a few hundred pounds lighter (alas financially, not physically).
The following day we had our first Learn To Skate lesson.  Off he went in his shiny new skates to join the childrens class, and I waddled off on my new CCM Tacks 4092's (ah what the heck...if you can't beat 'em) to my adult class.  Where I promptly spend my session within reach of the boards.  I could do a very basic glide, but missed the toe picks that I had been used to on the rental skates (but then, my use of them had been a bad habit, not through established technique).
That week, due to a favourable shift pattern I went to the lunchtime skate sessions nearly every day, and when I turned up to the LTS class on the Saturday morning, our group was informed we were going to be graded.  I breezed my level 1, and with the exception of backwards marches and CW circles (our public skate sessions run ACW and my feet are not yet accustomed to going the other way) I nailed most of level 2.
After the LTS my son proudly skated over to me, to tell me that he too had passed level 1.
Another weekend of 2 x 2hrs of public sessions, and we're whizzing around the ice (ok, just front stroking and glides, but a lot more confident), and I can just about manage backwards lemons.
And so it came, that 9 days after my first skating lesson, and about 13hrs on the ice (well, 13hrs at the rink....the new skates are agony to break in, so for every hour at the rink I'm probably skating for 30 minutes...I really must get them baked), I took the plunge to go for the late night adult learn to play sessions.  I picked up new pads (Bauer Vapor X700 elbow and shin guards...after all I had seen the state of my son after his first session), and apprehensively turned up to the session.
The guys there were instantly welcoming, I padded up, and then headed off to pick up helmet (read "head vice"), gloves, and stick, and then after a few minutes, we were on the ice. 
I should have known what was to come.  Everyone else just jumped straight onto the ice.  I held onto the door and eased myself on to the pad.  then skated clumsily around for a couple of laps, and then to the rendezvous point, where we were briefed on the warm up.  Alternating circles around the face off circles (great, time for my ropey cw circles), and then diagonal line dashes with hockey stops/turns at each point (yeah, right).   All of the confidence I had built up over the previous 9 days rapidly evaporated.  I am slow, clumsy, have no idea how to hold a hockey stick, can't hockey stop, and my legs frequently just went into their own little world, resulting in a series of increasingly heavy falls.
We then split into three groups.  Group one had to skate around a face off circle (again, cw!), pass the puck to the next guy in the line, skate around the circle again, receive the pass back, then take a shot on goal.  My stick control was non existent, still not sure whether I'm a lefty or righty, my footwork was reminiscent of Bambi on ice.  My first shot on goal went nicely into the net, but I know in the real world, the game would have been over long before I'd got anywhere near the goal.
Next was an exercise that totally passed me by.  i just didn't have a clue.  I think we were supposed to be skating around the centre face off circle, then through some cones, all with the puck, but I got sidetracked with a discussion about which hand should be where on the stick, and whether I was left or right handed.  I felt pretty intimidated by this point.  Intimidated, clueless, embarrassed, and really wondered whether I had made the right decision to even be there.
Finally, we practised our stops.  My first attempt saw me hitting the deck, stick waving wildly in the air.  I was now getting used to the sharp intakes of breath and murmurs of "is he ok" each time I went down.  Someone told me previously that if you don't fall over, you're not trying hard enough.....based on that, I was pretty much (with one or two exceptions) the only one trying!  My hockey stops need a lot of work.  Maybe getting the rest of the padding will increase my confidence (or be a total waste of money if I give up!).
The evening rounded off with a scrimmage game.  By this point you can tell the ones that are in it for a laugh, and the ones with the competitive streak.  To be honest, I just didn't approach anyone that didn't smile - I know I was totally hopeless, and I felt conscious of slowing the pace of their evening down, but for the most part, I had some very positive feedback, ranging from 'It's ok bud, we've all been there, just keep coming and you'll get better', to 'I was just like you a few weeks ago, hang in there'. 
Realistically, at 45 years old, I know I am never going to play in any serious competition.  I just enjoy skating, and would love to improve to a decent level.  On one level, I would love to be able to join my sons classes - they are split up by ability, and focus on skating ability and just having fun.  I think if i didn't have the stick to focus on, I would probably perform a little better as I could focus on my footwork a little more, but then, it's hockey.  The stick is integral to the sport, and so I guess it makes sense to get used to it from the outset.
I left the session buzzing and bruised.  My confidence and self esteem at a low point, but feeling happy to have had a go.  I have never been particularly sporty....I tend to go for solo activities - mountain biking, hill walking, and not team sports, but unless you try, you never know.  I hope I get to a point where I don't feel like the weakest link, but it's going to be a long journey.
I'd be interested to hear anyone elses experiences getting into the sport, especially if they are of a similar age and ability.
As my pursuit progresses, I'll update this thread.
Happy skating!
Started skating 07.01.17
Currently working through NISA LTS Levels.
Currently wobbling through hockey LTP sessions.

Leif

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Re: A total noob to Ice Hockey - sore and loving it
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2017, 01:24:53 PM »
Wow, what a long post. Are you related to Tolstoy?  :)

I too wear hockey skates, but I do not play hockey. You have the right idea, to wear pads, it really does make a huge difference to confidence, especially at our age. It allows you to try moves that might otherwise scare the beejayzuz out of you. All I can say is good luck. I used to love hurtling round the rink with air rushing past my ears till I had a bad fall. Now I wear pads.  ::)

I cannot understand why so few skaters wear pads, as it really is a potentially dangerous sport. I bought a helmet, then two others bought pads and a helmet, although I think one already had pads at home as he was an inline skater before.

Oh, and 'junior' might give you good tips. I was struggling to do a hockey stop with an outside edge (I can do them on inside edges easily), but I was given a tip from someone who was taught by a small lad, and did my first 'baby' hockey stop on both inside and outside edges. The youngsters learn so fast, and pick up from each other.

beginner skater

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Re: A total noob to Ice Hockey - sore and loving it
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2017, 04:17:30 PM »
I really enjoyed the detailed account AndyinSwindon. Ive been toying with the idea of trying hockey, so its great to read all about it  whilst contemplating taking the plunge.
Where in Swindon did you get your hockey skates from? And how much did the adult pads cost?  Any hockey newbies turn up in figure skates? Thanks, and looking forward to regular updates  ;D

AndyinSwindon

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Re: A total noob to Ice Hockey - sore and loving it
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2017, 09:11:43 AM »
Thanks to you both for having the patience to read my first post :-) Am hoping to get a skate in after work today, before my son has his hockey lesson.

I got my skates from the Wildcats shop, and they sharpened them f.o.c.  I'm not sure on the 'ROH' (starting to get these acronyms down now), but I think it might be standard 1/2".  Quite 'bitey' for me at the moment, but a girl i met at the rink advised that I scrape them side to side across the ice for a bit to take the edge down a little, and it seems to be working.  I got the CCM Tacks 4092's, had been very painful to break them in, but I baked them a couple of nights ago, and so hopefully tonight I will suffer a little less.  I am expecting a pair of CCM insoles to be delivered today, so that should also make a bit of a difference.
The pads were just shy of 70 from All Star Hockey in Swindon (price is pretty much on a par with the Wildcats shop, but the WC shop was closed when I was looking to buy),  that was for Bauer Vapor X700's (shin and elbow). 

I am now thinking that on the weekend public skates, I shall go without the pads and just concentrate on my balance, control and endurance, as it gets too crowded to do anything extreme.  Then, in the weekday lunchtime skates, shift pattern permitting, I'll focus on advanced stuff like hockey stops, crossovers, backward 'C' cuts etc, and will wear pads, hockey shorts and helmet.  That way I'll be better protected for the more advanced stuff, and look like less of a plum when just skating casually.

I had an interesting chat with one of the hockey coaches in the week, whom said that the ice at Swindon is comparatively hard, whilst the ice in Bracknell tends to be softer.  I have read about rinks varying the temperature to adjust the hardeness (hard for hockey, softer for figure), so that could be a factor to watch out for too.

Leif : when you say a hockey stop on an outside edge, do you mean using the inside edge of the leading foot, and simultaneously using the outside edge of the trailing foot, as opposed to what would technically be a single foot hockey stop using just the inside edge of the lead foot?

Beginner Skater : I was the only noob that night, and everyone had hockey skates, so can't really help much on that part of the question.  A friend of mine has just started learn to skate (but she is already pretty good), and said she was the only one in hockey skates on her course, and got the impression that the coach wasn't impressed.  I am doing LTS in my hockey skates as that is what I intend to wear going forward, and have heard that there is a re-learning process going to hockeys from figure.

I am hoping to get the rest of my hockey gear this weekend.  Might be a bit premature, but I think the extra padding will give me more confidence, given how much I fell over the other night.  It was very confidence sapping!

Started skating 07.01.17
Currently working through NISA LTS Levels.
Currently wobbling through hockey LTP sessions.

Leif

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Re: A total noob to Ice Hockey - sore and loving it
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2017, 09:23:08 AM »
Andy: yes that is what I mean, but I believe that a hockey stop can be leading foot inside edge and trailing foot outside edge, or both feet inside edge, but of course in the latter case the trailing foot does little braking, it is there for support. And of course the trailing foot does not need to touch the ice, which is fun. I wear pads and helmet at general public sessions. I find that if I fall while going at speed, it rarely hurts, although it looks bad. The really nasty falls I have had were both when I was almost stationary, my feet went from beneath me and my backside went down hard on the ice, and in one fall I then banged my head creating a cartoon style bump and leaving blood on the ice. However, after getting my skates properly sharpened, I seem to be much much more stable. I guess you will find out how likely you are to fall when not doing 'acrobatics'.

beginner: I don't think you can play hockey in figure skates, some moves will be hard or impossible to do because of the pick, and the lack of rounding at the rear end of the blade.

AndyinSwindon

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Re: A total noob to Ice Hockey - sore and loving it
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2017, 10:32:05 AM »
Beginner :- I would also echo Leif's comment here about hockey in figure skates.  The toe pick is too much of an obstacle.  When my son went to his first couple of learn to play sessions, he was quite mobile on the rental skates, but when he was just messing about on the ice, and doing some tight stationary turns (no idea of the technical turn, but it's like a two footed swivel on the ice), he would get about 3/4 of the way around and then trip, but his first time in hockey skates and he was doing them without any problem at all.
Started skating 07.01.17
Currently working through NISA LTS Levels.
Currently wobbling through hockey LTP sessions.

beginner skater

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Re: A total noob to Ice Hockey - sore and loving it
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2017, 05:32:26 PM »
Youre probably right about the figure skates, just I dont want to buy the equipment til I know I want to do it regularly. I partly want to do it as I think it will add power and spontaneity to my skating. Maybe I could do  it in rentals?
Leif I do wear gel knee and elbow pads inside my clothes. used to have a sacral pad too. but it was a bit of a pain adjusting when I dressed for skating in a hurry. I hope you dont feel so invincible in your hockey gear that you end up knocking over the figure  skaters. :D

AndyinSwindon

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Re: A total noob to Ice Hockey - sore and loving it
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2017, 01:42:00 PM »
Hi chaps,
Well the lastest update is now due.  I took my lad skating on Friday evening for an hour before his hockey practice, and after Tuesday nights performance, my conifidence was lacking a little. 
Soon got back into it, practising backwards lemons, t-stops etc, but still very unpolished.
Saturday mornings learn to skate lesson was very positive to start with, passed my clockwise circles, but still can't get it together with my co-ordination for backwards marching.  I just feel like I'm going to fall back and crack my head on the ice (the lesson prior to ours, a guy did just that).
We then progressed to turns on the move, and right now, I'm just not there with the confidence.  So again, after a very positive start, I feel like I'm slipping back a little (just not in the way I want to be!).
We had a 2hr skate afterwards, and I have started to get my backwards a little better now, I find it hard turning my toes in enough, but find that if I do it in a hockey stance it feels better, and as I am leaning forward, it gives me more confidence.
We are taking a break from it today, as the rink is unfortunately fully booked out, and my son wants a rest, as we have had a lot of rinktime lately.  As a result, I'm feeling very apprehensive about my learn to play hockey on Tuesday night, having had limited ice time in the meantime.
I have however, got the rest of my hockey gear, so hopefully will have a bit more confidence to try out new things.
One further item of note: I have now put the ccm liners in my skates, and although my feet still ache (probably more to do with building up my feet muscles and losing weight), the skates fit so much better now.  To the point that at one point yesterday I relaced my skate and instantly I was flatter on the blades.  I think I need to get the edges redone though.
Well adios for today, and will post back when I have had another session.

Started skating 07.01.17
Currently working through NISA LTS Levels.
Currently wobbling through hockey LTP sessions.

beginner skater

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Re: A total noob to Ice Hockey - sore and loving it
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2017, 02:30:49 PM »
Those turns on the move were my bete noir, but they came eventually. some people find them easier on a circle, others on a straight line.

LTS has variations in what you need to achieve, depending on whether you are in hockeys or not, so the coach may not have been unimpressed. Maybe if your friend is quite good, she wanted her for figure skating,  ;D

Exactly what equipment did you need to buy for hockey? And approx costs?

good luck with your next session!


AndyinSwindon

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Re: A total noob to Ice Hockey - sore and loving it
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2017, 05:02:44 PM »
Hi Beginner,
I already had the skates (250) and elbow/shin protectors.
The complete kit cost a further 500, that included hockey stick, stick tape, socks, body armour, hockey jersey, neck protector, helmet, gloves, jock, bag (large wheeled one), water bottle (has an extension mouthpiece for drinking with a cage on), hockey stick bag, shorts and one or two little bits & pieces.
The way I look at it, the initial cost is high, but so is the cost of time off work due to injury that could be prevented. 
I am going to give Planet Ice a go in Milton Keynes on Tuesday, as I am hoping to get to hockey practice on tuesday night, and will need a session before then, and I am going to be away form Swindon (my home rink) until the practice.
Anyone have any experience of Planet Ice in MK?
Started skating 07.01.17
Currently working through NISA LTS Levels.
Currently wobbling through hockey LTP sessions.

AndyinSwindon

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Re: A total noob to Ice Hockey - sore and loving it
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2017, 03:59:26 PM »
Time for the latest update!
I tried Planet Ice in MK this Tuesday.  Nice rink, a little soft, but modern and well presented, but I do have an affection for my home rink (Swindon Link Centre).
Fell over a couple of times practising my backwards march, (went a bit fast and got carried away), but generally quite pleased.
Had my second Adult Learn To Play Hockey session last night.  Was welcomed back happily, and was nice to be in a laid back and friendly environment.
I did find I pushed myself a lot harder with the full kit on, but I also realise I am as slow as a tortoise compared to the other guys.  If I started my drills before everyone else, I would still be the last to complete them, but then speed will come with confidence and practice.
I fell a lot less - possibly due to feeling a bit more relaxed, and when I did fall, the padding took the brunt of the pain.
We practiced passing across the face off circles, (my stopping still needs a lot of work, it's still a gentle slow down rather than an abrupt halt), and then backwards skating.  My backwards lemons were the best I've done, and I was quite proud of them, but the backwards 'c' cuts are throwing me out at the moment.
We then finished with a 1/2hr scrimmage.  Was great fun, but I tend to find on my shifts that I end up skating backwards and forwards looking pretty clueless.....it'd be more entertaining if I just shouted out 'Wheeeeeee....' as I skated past the bench!
Overall, still sore, still loving it, and getting better each time I get out there (not that my initial bar is particularly high)!
Started skating 07.01.17
Currently working through NISA LTS Levels.
Currently wobbling through hockey LTP sessions.