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Deflections: Timing is everything?


There are certain disadvantages to being in rinks as much as I am. I could grind down my teeth or get a crook in the neck from shaking it so often. My eyeballs might get sore from constant rolling. Pursed lips could become permanent, couldn’t they? (Or so my Mom used to say about my ears if I pulled on them too much to make faces at friends.) Then there’s the blood pressure. Don’t even ask me about that.

All from watching the odd and often dumb things people are doing in practice. Yes, yes, I know, it’s all purely anecdotal. And I’ve even said myself that you can’t tell if a coach runs a truly good practice by using just one as an indicator. But…  BUT… you can most definitely tell when coaches don’t get it. To wit, the one I recently witnessed before my own practice. It was, I think, a skill test practice. I say I think because coaches stood on the ice with stopwatches and clipboards while the little kids mostly stood around awaiting their turns. In other words, a complete and utter waste of ice.

Ten kids on the ice. Ten. So few with so much space it was easy to count. They were novices, 7-8 years old. No goalies. So that was a dead giveaway. Obviously you can’t have a proper practice without goalies. I suppose they were told to stay home because the speed test and pylon weave puckhandling test were just not for them.

The ice was pristine enough for me to ask the rink attendants not to bother flooding so my team could get the extra time. I guess it didn’t dawn on the novice timekeepers to ask for the same thing so their boys could squeeze in 10 minutes of something fun.

For the speed test, they kids had to spring from goal line to the far blue. The pylon weave involved going through four with a puck then spring back to a blueline. The kids tried really hard, as kids are wont to do in most circumstances. Except they had a few technical deficiencies. Like lousy strides, errant sticks, inability to do turns with our without a puck, weak stopping skills… and so on. Because it was a speed test, the pylon weave was the most entertaining in a sad sort of way. The poor boys tried ever so hard to get through them fast but kept losing the puck or took wide awkward turns with feet splayed away from the body.

Meanwhile, the coaches timed them. I don’t know what they were timing them for, nor do I care. But it was pretty clear the kids skills were quite poor. Could they go faster on subsequent tries? Maybe. But it made about as much sense as their grade 3 teacher asking them to write a paragraph as fast as they can and never mind spelling, punctuation, structure or theme.

I wanted to scream, “WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING !?” But on top of the other ailments, it would’ve hurt my throat.

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