It`s December, one of the coldest months of the year and you`re reading a blog about ice cream. You must really love that summer treat, or it`s possible you believe this blog won`t actually be about ice cream. Well, you`re right, I`m using this succulent desert as an analogy. What I`m going to emphasize is young players need to try new things. When it comes to skate sharpening and sticks it`s wise to experiment.
The next time you go get your skates sharpened before a practice try changing the hollow in your blade. A hollow is the space between your inside and outside edge on each blade. If you want more speed with less effort required ask for a more shallow hollow (5/8 of an inch to 11/16 of an inch to start is appropriate). If you want more bite on the ice and more agility in tight spaces try a deeper hollow (7/16 of an inch is a good start but you can go deeper). Keep in mind a deeper hollow and sharper edges means you`ll need to visit the skate sharpener more often since these sharp edges are thin and dull easily. By experimenting you might find your stride is longer with a shallow hollow because you have more contact with the ice. You may also find you are better able to escape that defender coming out of the corner with a deeper hollow. You never know unless you try.
So what happens if you try a new hollow and dislike it? That`s as simple as ordering a new ice cream flavor (I recommend Chapman`s Candy Cane ice cream this time of year if you`re wondering) and you find you don`t like it you can go back to your usual flavor (hollow) or try another ice cream (hollow).
Shallow hollow (5/8`` -> 1.5``) = speed
Deep hollow (1/4`` -> 1/2``) = agility
What about sticks? We can use the same ice cream analogy. In practice try stickhandling with other players` sticks. Try a shorter stick (usually better for puckhandling) and a longer stick. Try different flexes too. Generally stick flex should be half of one`s body weight in pounds. A 170 pound player should start at an 85 flex stick. Experiment with a few others. You never know which sticks are best for you unless you try. Many young players have never used wooden sticks. Wood sticks with a small knob on the top of the shaft to hold with your hand will actually give a player more feeling as vibrations can be felt in the hand, thus enabling the player to feel the puck while stickhandling.
This experimenting could go with many different things as well. Instead of lacing your skates to the top eyelet, try backing off and leave the top one empty; you`ll notice much more flexibility of the ankle. Please don`t wrap tape or laces around your ankle though because to skate properly you need to be able to flex your ankle in all directions with no restrictions. Have you never washed any of your gear? Don`t experiment - Just wash it. You`ll have more friends and people will want to share their stuff with you to try.
During the summer has anyone ever looked you up and down, considered your ice cream licking style then suggested Butter Pecan is the best ice cream for you? Nobody knows your ice cream preferences better than you, and you won`t know unless you try. So whether it`s skate sharpening or stick selection or something entirely different give something new a try in 2017. You`ll be better for it.
Happy Holidays and all the best in the new year!
Apollo Hockey Development
* Image from http://newtohockey.com/beginners-guide-to-skate-sharpening/