Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hockey Skating: Marathon Cross Training Activity

My son has always been interested in ice hockey. Several winters ago we bought him skates through Craigs List and I bought a pair of skates as well. I had skated a few times in my life, but never had lessons and I didn't play hockey. I did have a Roller Blading phase in college so I had some basic skills and confidence on skates.

Last fall we signed our son up for introduction to hockey. He has been skating two days a week working on basic skating and stick and puck skills. He is making great progress and having lots of fun. I considered helping as an assistant coach but didn't have the time to complete the orientation and I didn't know if his interest would be enduring. Next year ...

Despite our crummy winter (warm temps and low snow fall) we have had several family skating outings. Our neighborhood rink never got surfaced so we have had fewer skating opportunities that I hoped.

Perhaps the poor winter weather is the logical outcome of the fact that I am now the proud owner of a hockey helmet, stick, and several pucks. In the last couple of weeks we have made several trips to the Goerke park rink and skating area.

I have been using these skate sessions for my cross training on off running days and finding real value in skating for these reasons.

1. Low impact. Skating is a pushing to the side motion. The impact, at least at my novice level, is low on my joints.

2. Different muscle usage. I am using my leg and core muscles in different motions. I can feel different muscles being used as I skate forward, backward, cross over or turn.

3. Engages my brain in skill development process. Skating is not natural for me yet. I still need to think about the process of crossing over or turning. Skating backwards is a real opportunity for growth.

4. Emphasis on balance and stability. I want to stay upright on my skates and the fine adjustments I make to stay balanced strengthen my core, ankles, and knees.

5. Bursts of speed. My skating pace is quick bursts of push-offs and glides. Unlike a training run which is at a nearly constant pace. These quick bursts might be helpful for when I want to pass another runner, accelerate up a short hill, or hurry across a busy street.

6. Time with my family. Unlike cross training on my bike or the pool I can skate with my kids. We can be together shooting or passing the puck or simply skating at our own pace around the rink.

7. Hand eye coordination. Combining skating with  handling the puck raises the engagement and adds a hand eye coordination element. Also chasing a puck, shooting the puck, or turning to reach the puck is making me a more natural skater because I am not thinking as much about the actual act of skating as I am advancing or moving the puck.

This morning my son and I watched a bunch of videos from on YouTube. I am hoping to add a hockey stop to my quiver before the ice melts.

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