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Sunday, January 18, 2009

How Lax Will Help Your Hockey Skills Part 2

Now that I have talked about the physical conditioning aspects of playing lacrosse, it is time to look at stick skills. Aside from the actual act of skating, stick skills seem to be a weak point for a lot of adult hockey players. Sure most of us can more or less carry the puck. We can make fairly decent passes. We can even make some hard, accurate shots from time to time. But most of us lack finesse. Sure some guys in Des Moines, like Dylo, look like semi-pro players out there, but the rank and file players in the metro (myself included) lack strong stick handling abilities.

How can this problem be fixed? One way is to hit the gym and lift some weights. Lifting weights is the old school way of increasing strength and is required by NCAA varsity and pro hockey teams everywhere. But really, who wants to be in a gym lifting weights all day? Plus building muscle mass may make you stronger on the puck, but it does nothing for your finesse.
To improve finesse, you need to work the small muscle groups in movements not to different than those used in hockey. You also need to work on your shaft grip and hand positioning. Lacrosse allows you to do both.

Although the stick is positioned much differently between the two games, the extra movements and unbalanced nature of carrying and shooting with a lacrosse stick will stimulate and isolate muscle groups used in hockey. This will increase the stability and strength of these muscles in an applicable way which translates as greater control on the ice.

(This video came from You Tube)

Not to leave any position out, hockey players also benefit from playing defense in lacrosse. For one thing, the longer defensive pole gives players a tougher arm workout than the attack and midfield players. The longer pole nearly doubles the weight and requires more balance correction, which helps hockey players adapt to playing with their entire stick on the ice. One handed grabs and controlling in lacrosse translate directly to the same moves on the ice.
Similarly, being able to bounce off of lax defenders while maintaining control will help develop that ability on the ice.

(This video came from You Tube)

Lastly, making passing in lacrosse is at least as difficult as making passes in hockey. Both sports require you to send the ball/puck across open space and through defenders from your stick to your teammate's stick. Even though most lax passes are through the air, they are sometimes bounced off of the turf; hockey passes occasionally leave the ice and sail through the air. The adaptability of the player when making passes is essential to succeeding in either sport. Just like pucks love to bounce of the blades of rigid players, lax balls tend to pop right back out of heads. Soft hands are nurtured on the turf and the ice. Being able to handle the stick with firm but gentle hands is vital to both sports.

If you have any suggestions about how lax can help improve your ability to play ice hockey, please comment below. As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Tribe 7