The Indian national sport does not receive the respect it truly deserves. But if you play this game for awhile, you’ll understand that it takes a lot of stamina, skill, and willpower to pull off some of the amazing feats that the pros are so well-versed in.
But don’t worry, with a little bit of technique, and hours of practice, you can quickly improve your skills and start performing better during a match. Of course, to play professional hockey you’ll have to invest hours of practice every single day. But even if you’ve got 2-3 hours to spare every other day, you can boost your skills significantly.
Here are a few tips to help you out.
1) Improve Leg Power
Hockey involves a lot of leg strength and endurance, and you can work on your legs without actually playing the sport or even taking out your equipment. It’s fairly easy to do, and the next time you play, you’ll notice a significant increase in your agility and finesse.
Here are a few exercises to help you out.
Squats: Squats are probably the most effective hockey workout you will ever perform. It’s easy enough to learn and works on multiple muscle groups in your legs, glutes, and core. Doing even 20 or 30 squats a day or every other day will greatly improve the amount of impact your legs are able to withstand, allowing you to push yourself during a training session or a match.
Wall Raises: This is an exercise where you lean your back against the wall and pretend to sit on a chair. This position puts immense pressure on your legs, forcing your muscles to strengthen and grow. Repeat this exercise as often as possible as it’s easy to do and will help you boost your endurance quickly.
Sprints: This one is a no-brainer, but it has to be included in the list, just to be sure that most of you include it in your leg training exercise. Sprinting, jogging, and running will help to train your core muscles, enhance leg strength and endurance, and greatly increase your stamina.
Besides, running is a great way to alleviate stress and allows your mind to focus better.
2) Treat Yourself to a Match
Hockey tickets aren’t all that expensive (especially when you compare them to the tickets for a cricket match), and a great way to learn about the game is to watch the professionals in action.
When you go to a match, be sure to stay alert and attentive the whole time; even the smallest details can change the way you play the sport. You get to see how the professionals react to different situations, and you can apply the same principles during your game.
Another reason why you should watch a professional match is so you can see what it really takes to excel at the sport. It’s important to understand the intensity of the sport so you can figure out how much time and dedication it actually takes to improve yourself.
You may be a little disheartened at first at the level of the game. But stay strong and know that everyone has to start somewhere, and the pros got there because of hard work and the innumerable positive circumstances in their lives.
Work hard, and you’re sure to get there soon!
3) Find a Group
If you don’t have friends to play with, sign up for a hockey club or find a bunch of experienced hockey players with whom you can play from time to time. It’s difficult to motivate yourself to train when you’re alone. But when you’re with people who are passionate about the sport and who push themselves on a regular basis, you’re sure to improve at a much quicker rate.
This also helps because if you have any doubts regarding the game, you can get them clarified with your training partners. You can also ask them to give you tips on how to improve your own game. Once you’ve played enough with the same group of people, they’ll be able to tell you your weak spots and what you need to work on.
These are valuable insights that you can gain from other players and working on your weak spots will help you take your skills to a new level.
4) Push More
This is a simple tip, but most beginners and even a few intermediate players tend to overlook it. Instead of slapping or hitting the opponent’s stick with yours, aim to push their hockey stick instead. Pushing makes it easier to maintain your balance and flow and allows you to maneuver the ball with more ease.
Also, remember that everytime you lift your stick to hit or slap the opponent’s stick, you improve the opponent’s chances to take the ball away from you. Lifting the stick also makes it easier for you to commit a foul and hence incur a penalty, which could put your team at a disadvantage.
So be mindful of where your hockey stick is at all times and push instead of slapping or hitting.
5) Play Regularly
This is perhaps the most important tip to keep in mind – to get better at the game, you have to play with as many different people and as often as possible. This will help you to learn the game from different perspectives and teach you more about your own style of play.
By playing with different people, you’ll be exposed to different styles of play – aggressive and defensive, controlled and powerful. By coming across different styles, you will be able to understand what you’re good at and how you can respond to different types of players.
These are just a few of the basic tips you want to keep in mind if you’re an aspiring hockey player. But besides these tips, you need to improve your mental strength and keep pushing yourself and your skills to the next level no matter what setbacks you may suffer. Stay strong, and you’re sure to see improvements in the near future!