This year I intended to have a great Christmas. It was coming true, I was having a good Christmas and it was suddenly made better and memorable with something I saw on the ride home.
Just around the corner there was this big road hockey game going on. Two nets, breaks for cars and everything. This took me so far back and gave me such a happy and warm feeling I hope lasts for a long time.
Christmas Eve came and went with nothing eventful happening. I will say that they played a really long game! Lots of spirit! It ended soon after 11 o'clock.
To my delight, the next morning they were at it again. I don't know if it was an extended family kind of thing but it was awesome. As a matter of fact, on a less spectacular note, I have seen kids walking by more these days with sticks in their hands. They are on their way to play.
There is a fully fenced-in area just up the street from me, split into two with two nets in both. They are not exactly standard but who cares? It's ball hockey. This is the greatest way to get together with some buds and shoot a ball around or set up two (or four, there are two courts), and just have a fun winner-gets-nothing game.
Out on the street, you build a sixth sense to get your butt outta the way when cars come by. I again, through someone's wish, was spoiled in my competitive years. Through the years I would rise and fall, I understood the game so I turned my attention to coaching.
Ball Hockey is such a great way to practice skill in an environment that will challenge you because of the competition, but it will also allow you to push the boundaries with a stick and ball. Male or female – who cares?
This is as good as being on the ice because of the unpredictability of the ball and the sometimes-uneven pavement. It takes a greater skill to pass and receive a ball on the street than a puck on a sheet of ice. Of course, the ice can be unpredictable as well late in games or just a plain bad sheet. True, however is it isn’t better to be prepared for the unpredictable or have our performances suffer because of bad ice.
Ball hockey is cross training for your hands and eyes.
For example, a tennis ball before being seasoned in a trial by fire would bounce like crazy and it would take an artist to settle it down, yet we all did it.
We played on snow, ice, pavement – rough and smooth. Never the same place or conditions. We just knew it was outdoors and if it was hockey season, it would be cold.
After a while the ball behaved and would really hurt on a shot block. You have to understand, everyone did it without a second thought, it was how you learned, that and watching Borje Salming on a Saturday night.
If you dropped too soon and rolled, you took a missile in the back or backside or upper leg, believe me they hurt! A very valuable lesson learned.
Face shots? Forget about it. Walk it off or go home, we got people wanting to play. None of this killed us and the temporary pain felt once in a while, especially in the “caracas” (it was cold, we were out there for hours!). Your brain has a short-term memory for minor aches and pains, bruises and sprains
All that remains is the memory and possibly the lesson.
This a was trick we all knew as kids. To perfect our skill, we watched and then emulated it as best we could. If you didn't have the skills on the ice, we did it on the snow, ice and pavement. You should too. You can too.
Of note to players with friends who may not play in a league or at your level, this is the great open field where everyone can play. All you need is the will. It is always be great fun and an incredible amount of full-body exercise and cardio, – what's not to like?
I paused that Christmas Eve, just to take in the sounds. The cheers of "GOAL!" and the cries of "NO!" With each breath, I went back further and further in time.
I lingered and my wife asked me what I was doing, I just said, "nothing, I guess you had to be there."
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