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Friday, January 16, 2009

How Lax Will Help Your Hockey Skills Part 1

I would like to address my hockey playing brethren. For years I struggled beside you as we sought more hockey. At first we had some pond hockey, some street hockey, roller hockey at Skate West and Skate South, and the occasional pick up game at Buccaneer Arena. To play in the men's league, you had to be quite good and often invited.Then the Metro Ice Sports Facility was built. Suddenly our indoor sheets of ice tripled and new hockey leagues formed. For a while, the Ice Pavilion was open downtown and the figure skaters stayed off of our hockey ice. Times were good. Then the Pavilion closed and Wells Fargo Arena Opened. So did the Brenton Skate Park. Our ice options have never been better. There is even talk of an outdoor rink games in Grimes. With so many hockey options, it is hard to imagine that we would never have enough playing and conditioning time.

But, what about the summer? Sure the MISF has been having summer leagues for the last couple of years, I even played in one last summer. But summer ice hockey feels weird and the rink becomes odd in the humidity. Roller hockey still lingers as an option in the summer, but most ice players seem reluctant to strap on the heavier skates and make the transition back to the bastard son of the sport. Soccer provides some good exercise but lacks the physical intensity of hockey. Softball is a popular choice, but it mainly consists of sitting on your ass and drinking beer; not much of a conditioning sport...

So, what is a hockey player to do in the summer? You want to stay in good physical condition and you want to hone you skills. What you need is a sport that provides you with the conditioning of soccer and the stick work of hockey. A sport that gives you the light physical contact of hockey and the hand eye coordination of softball. A sport that provides hockey's line changes and team play. What you need is lacrosse.

Let's start with the obvious: lacrosse will give you some serious physical conditioning. This conditioning will keep you in shape through the summer and put you in a better position when the fall hockey leagues come around. Many people perceive lacrosse a sport involving a lot of running, much like soccer. However, unlike soccer, you are not spending 45 solid minutes running up and down the full field. Lacrosse offers line changes like hockey and certain positions are restricted on how much movement they can have on the field.

Obviously goalies do not run a whole lot. Defenders are also fairly stationary; they can only move on 2/3 of the field. Attackmen have the same restrictions. Both spend most of their time near their respective goals; attackmen on the scoring end and defenders guarding their own. Still, no matter what position you play, you will get some running and conditioning in. The best way to stay in shape for fall hockey is to keep up the conditioning.

Lacrosse also helps develop strong footwork. Stopping on a dime and making tight turns are all part of a lacrosse game. Fortunately, they are part of a hockey game too. Building the lower leg and ankle muscles on the grass will eventually translate to the ice. Hockey stops will be quicker; your transition game will become smoother. The key to a well rounded hockey player is being able to make rapid and successful changes at a seconds notice.

Pads are a part of lacrosse just as they are a major part of hockey. Unlike soccer and softball, lacrosse requires players to wear supportive cups, shoulder and elbow pads, and helmets. The good news is that while lax pads are different from hockey pads, they are extremely similar - especially the shoulder pads and cup. The helmets are not too terribly different from a cage hockey helmet, except for the visor and the balanced weight distribution (hockey helmets are engineered to be balanced without a face mask so masked and visored helmets feel unbalanced). The largest difference in the shoulder pads is that lax pads are made to give your arms a fuller range of motion than hockey pads.

Spending your summer playing in full lax pads benefits your hockey game a in a couple of different ways. First, it gets your body accustomed to the additional weight and restrictions on movement. Whenever you add layers to your body, you entire kinetic systems are thrown off. This causes your balance to be out of whack which slows your speed, limits your turning radius, and harms your shot power and accuracy. By getting your body used to working with pads in a slightly different way by playing lacrosse, you become more mobile on the ice (the same effect will happen on the turf as you continue to play both sports). The net result is that your skating will be smoother and more even; your turns will be sharper; your shots will be more balanced and precise.

Next up: How lacrosse improves those stick skills.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Post a reply!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lacrosse Movie

Here is some updated info on the Lacrosse Movie I mentioned before. This comes from an ESPN interview with Kyle Harrison:

ESPN RISE: What's the movie called and what is it about?

Kyle Harrison: The film is called Warriors, and its about a lacrosse playing kid from the west coast, who has to move to the east coast because his father gets transferred (military), and has to find his way there. Going from being the best player on the west coast to the east coast where each team is filled with extremely talented kids is definitely a transition, not to mention the social change as well. Its an interesting story, and as a lacrosse player, its exciting because for the first time the entire film is about a lacrosse playing kid! There are a few scenes with Native Americans playing the game in upstate NY that will be very powerful.

ER: That's a pretty intense storyline I like it. What is your roll in and with the movie exactly?

KH: I, along with Xander Ritz, am in charge of choreographing all of the lacrosse scenes and making it look as authentic as possible. Fortunately, we have got a pretty good group of players, so we have just got to come up with some exciting plays. We also get to work with wardrobe and props to make sure everything looks the part.

ER: who are you working with? Anyone else or just Xander Ritz?

KH: I work mostly with Xander on the lacrosse portion of the film.

ER: What is the most fun part of being part of a movie for you so far?

KH: For me the best part thus far has been just being a part of the whole thing. It's a fun process to watch unfold. There are so many different things that have to come together in order to get the final product, and its fun to watch, and learn about each piece. It's also been great working with and meeting great people.

ER: when will the movie be released?

KH: I think they are shooting for the weekend of the final four, but well see.

ER: So, we have to ask for our celebrity-watching crowd… anyone we know in it? Celebrities or lacrosse players we would know?

KH: Yeah, there are a few I think. As far as actors/actresses go, Ashley Greene (Twilight) and Kellen Lutz (90210) are two of the bigger names in the film, but there are more I'm sure. There will definitely be some lacrosse guys in there playing that you know, but I'm not sure which ones quite yet! Stay tuned here; well have to do a follow up! You'll see my skinny legs running around in some of the action scenes, as well as some other guys like Jimmy Borrel, Xander and Max Ritz, Brett Moyer and other MLL guys.

ER: That sounds like a pretty good cast man. How did you get involved?

KH: Marty Dugard ( writers/producer) gave me a call and asked me to be involved. Seems like lacrosse has opened SO many doors and this is just another GREAT opportunity that lacrosse has allowed me to be involved in.

ER: So you said we might see you in some scenes, what exactly will you be doing on screen?

KH: Not going to tell you exactly what I'm doing, but yes, you'll see me in there.

Stay tuned as we keep up with Kyle Harrison and his adventure into Hollywood and the start of a lacrosse movie that will hopefully make up for the portrayal in American Pie. We as lacrosse fans, players, and coaches can't have that be our one cinematic memory.

The Challenge of Bringing Lacrosse to Des Moines

When I started this whole lacrosse thing, I thought it would be fairly easy to get people in Des Moines to play. I mean, it is not perceived as a wuss sport the way soccer is (I am a huge soccer fan by the way and usually buy Menace season tickets so do not think I am bagging on footie). As a face paced stick-and-ball game, I thought it had a real shot of catching on in Des Moines. The fact that it combines the pace of soccer, the impact of football and hockey, the stick-and-ball aspect of baseball, and the versatile skills necessary for hockey made it seem like a quick sell.

As I have been working on this website and talking to people, I have come to find that most Central Iowans have never seen a game despite the fact that MLL games are on ESPN weekly during the summer, NLL games appear on VS (and sometimes on channel 20), and the NCAA championships are on ESPN every spring. I realize that I am blessed with a wife who let me have Mediacom's college sports tier package so I can watch college lax all season, but it saddens me that most people have only experienced lacrosse on American Pie.

By dedicating this site to lax, retooling my My Space page, spreading the word on Face Book and the Des Moines Adult Hockey site, and actually talking to people about lacrosse (if you know me, you would know how difficult that is for me), I know that I am doing the best I can to bring the sport to Central Iowa.

I know that people hate to drop loads of cash on something that they have never done before; God knows this would be easier if Play It Again had a bunch of used gear. That is why I want people to feel free to use the hockey gear they already have this summer. All hockey players would need to buy is a $30 beginner stick. I realize not everyone has hockey gear and that is a hurdle for some people. When the application process opens up, I plan to apply for a US Lacrosse equipment grant. Since Iowa is not exactly a "hotbed," I may stand a fairly good chance. In the meantime (and going forward), I recommend joining the Warrior Nation. As you build your profile up with pics, videos, and comments, you get points and move up in rank. Rank has benefits such as this.

I realize that the summer league is a while off yet but I am a planner, especially with something like this. Since people are not converting to lax on their own, my next series will discuss why you should pick up lax if you play hockey. Some things may apply to other sports like football and basketball while some may not. Most of it is common sense stuff, but it is worth pointing out. Check back here every couple of days to see the next article. And if you are into lax, why not point your buddies this way and get them interested too?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tribe 7