When I think back about playing high school hockey, my mind normally goes right to all the fun we had. Joking on the bus, playing games, pranks, chirping each other, cheerleaders….the whole nine yards.
But it seems like I’ve managed to bury the memories of the things that perhaps we didn’t like so much. Yes, there’s only so much room in the mental archives for memories, so I try to keep those memories to the fun ones.
One of the memories I don’t need to think about too often involves certain hockey practice drills. As I sit and think about all the different drills we did in practices, most are palatable. Tip drills, hitting drills, power play, penalty kill, breakout…..all these were probably a little bit of a bummer sometimes, but by and large they were acceptable because they had one singular, magical element – pucks. Where we get into the deep, dark recesses of the mental archives is when we get to conditioning drills. Skating. Ugh.
For me, the first few practice sessions each season were almost exclusively conducted with no pucks. Just skating. I remember for four straight years absolutely killing it at Thanksgiving because I knew it would be the last time for a week or so that I could really eat big. And trust me, the 15-16 year old Jeff could eat big.
Lucky for me, I always played hockey in the fall as well, so conditioning wasn’t too much of a problem, but for some guys on the team, oh boy. I do recall dodging lines of vomit on the ice and other players b-lining it off the ice to hurl. Not pretty. I never was one of the vomiters, but I always was afraid of being the vomitee.
The one drill that sticks in my mind was something called the Three-Period Drill. Notice I capitalized it. I think it might be out of respect or something. I am not sure. I can tell you it still gives me the chills today when I think about it.
Here’s the gist of it – the team is divided into two groups, let’s call them A and B. One group goes first has to go full speed – and they must do the following in :50 seconds:
- Goal line to near blue line and back
- Goal line to center line and back
- Goal line to far blue line and back
- All the way down and back
Then Group B goes.
That’s the first period. The second period – same set as above – had to be done in :45 seconds. Third period had to be done in :40 seconds. And then you are DEAD. If either group didn’t hit their time – you had to do overtime. No kidding – another set. God forbid you were the one who dragged your team into overtime. I will leave it at that, but you can imagine the off-the-ice repurcussions courtesy of your teammates.
So that’s a memory that I try and tuck away. One of the worst practice drills I’ve ever experienced. What’s yours? We always love hearing about insane skating drills, so let’s hear it! Leave a comment below.