The devil is in the details.
Hold your ankle like this. Bend your knee just so. Do you feel that? Yes. Now hold onto it.
It’s more than muscle memory, it’s muscle intelligence. You can’t remember something you don’t already know.
I spent my brief coaching career as a specialised skills coach. I was all about the detail and the repetition. Find the weak spot, fix it. Rinse and repeat.
I have a theory this applies to any sports person who truly cares about how and why they do what they do, the type of person who strives for milliseconds and millimetres not just once, but a million times over.
I didn’t know if Coach Intenso was that guy, but I booked a one-on-one coaching session to find out.
The sun wasn’t up as I pulled into the parking lot of Jurassic Rink. The rink was blanketed in fog and a stillness that was almost surreal.
There is nothing better than having a place that’s normally full of people all to yourself. Years and years ago, there was a Nike ad that had an empty court and a lone basketball with the tagline this is where we worship. It captured so much of how I felt about my sport.
This morning I felt it again as I stared out over the bare ice.
C.I. lived up to expectations. He broke everything down in minute detail and made it stick. He asked me what I wanted to work on, and I told him to take it from the top.
We ran through the same drills we’ve been hitting each class, taking the time to break it down to the muscle groups, the parts of the blade that touch the ice, ankle position, relative knee position.
Everything my detail obsessed brain had been craving.
Did I get it all in one session? Nah. Did I learn a bucketload that I need to apply? Hell yes.
I was impressed that C.I. didn’t push me to be back next week for the next one-on-one, rather he sensibly suggested spacing them out to monthly or even every three months.
It works for me.
If you are going to do something, you have to be motivated to do it, whether or not someone is looking over your shoulder.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long to apply what I’d learned as I was back at the rink again this evening. I was probably a bit muscle fatigued, and two sessions in one day is not where my fitness level is at, but I worked as hard as I could, stretching out when I had a chance and concentrating on my ankle and knee position and hockey stance.
Some takeaways from the session:
- Little Coach has been with us for two sessions now. He’s a really solid coach. His tips are detailed and he makes you stop and think about what you are doing, and explains very clearly how to improve. He’s a young guy. I’d be surprised if he was out of his teens, but he’s got that knack for coaching.
- Here’s a tip: don’t be the douchecanoe who talks through the coaches instructions, loudly stating every time that you’ve done this drill before and then still getting it wrong.
- Tip #2: do be the guy who takes the time to give another newbie the tip that helped you master a technique even if you only worked it out last week. That was ace, big props to you!
- Wings on skates are cool. I want some so much.
You may be wondering about the title, what does synchronised swimming have to do with hockey? Tonight, we ran our first drills that involved working with another person — simple weaves and turns. It can’t be that hard, we’re adults. I can chew gum and talk at the same time (ok, some might say I could talk underwater but that’s beside the point.)
Me and my buddy just couldn’t, both too focused on actually making it down the ice in one piece. There was no room in our brains for coordinated movement. I tried to shout it out, talking us through the drills. We’d get about two-thirds of the way through before I couldn’t breathe from how hard I was laughing at our sheer inability to make it happen. Fortunately, my buddy had a sense of humour, and while neither of us are going to be going out for the Ice Capades, I think we had a bit of fun.
I’ve discovered the rink is a really meditative place to write. I perch myself upon the bleachers, and while my face slowly reverts from beetroot red to its normal freckled motley, I catch up on my deadlines. The Intermediate group runs as I type, and a lot of our group back up for both sessions. Jay and Zee hang out while I type, catching me up on their week while their Mum hits the ice for her send of three sessions she takes on Fridays.
Our group of determined women hit the ice once more this weekend. We have a group private session and scrimmage booked. A game! I really don’t know the rules, but I’ll work it out as we go along. I’m pretty sure I have no clue how to handle a puck but still…. game time!
I can’t wait.