There’s no “I” in “inspiration”

Wings party the pivot

The Red Wings hear that Nicko completed a pivot.

If I wasn’t just some dumb hockey player, I might spot life lessons in this current adventure.
As already immortalised in this blog, during last week’s action-packed (read: messy, ice-eating) hockey lesson, The Bastard That Is The Pivot had nearly killed me, or so it felt. Certainly I staggered off the ice, feeling that this was a manouevre that would never be mastered.
Plucky and ever-determined, I had nevertheless joined Will for a skate on Sunday afternoon, prepared to endure the quiet sniggers of pre-teens zooming effortlessly without padding as I lumbered around a General Skate session in protective gear. Those kids were merely hanging laps, impressing girls. I was girded for pain and suffering, in pursuit of higher hockey skating skills. But it turned out the ice was so crowded, the idea of finding a quiet space to practice skating forward and turning to backwards without losing momentum was unfeasible.
So we skated in circles in the crowd, joined by a fellow hockey school member, Renee.
During a break in skating, Renee talked about being on her second time around in hockey school and I really admire her for this. She cheerfully volunteered that she was so crap, so landmark crap, during her first attempt late last year that the idea of graduating to the next step, Intermediate Hockey Class, was ridiculous. So she dived into a hockey camp over summer and re-signed for the starter hockey class. And it’s working for her. She is a long way from being the worst in our group (and no, I’m not prepared to make the same claim about myself.)
How cool that she didn’t concede defeat and quit? Didn’t walk away, Renee (sorry, I had to). Didn’t complete 10 weeks of falling and not being as good as others and crashing and not being able to master basic hockey skills, and reasonably shrug, say this sport ain’t for me, and try something else.
No. She signed up again and ate more ice. Rock on, Renee.
So now we’re on the ice and I’m bitching that I can’t even work out the basic moves of The Pivot. How can I hope to master it if I don’t even have an idea of what I’m trying to achieve? I’ve been skating in a straight line, wobbly weight on one skate heading in the right direction. And now here comes my other foot, off the ice, heel to heel as instructed. And now my whole body has to spin 180 degrees as I swap my entire weight and balance off the skating foot onto the other foot, toe pointing the other way. So that, if done correctly, I am still moving in the same direction but facing the other way.
This is not what tends to happen. I tend to end up on my knees or side, skates everywhere.
And Renee offers one hint. Try turning that front foot to 11 o’clock, instead of pointing it dead ahead. Give your body just that one moment of turn before attempting the whole heel-to-heel transfer.
And I fall, but I felt it. Could suddenly see the move. I tell Will, who is also struggling with this one, and it makes all the difference.
And so this week’s class (number three of 10) is difficult and challenging but not overwhelming – because once or twice, I pivot. Slowly, wobbly, so far from proficiently. But I don’t always fall, and I can see the future. By approaching it from 1/12th of a different angle.
Hmmm. Seemingly impossible, daunting problem, approached from new perspective, lateral thinking, begins to unlock. Like I said, I’m sure there’s a wider meaning in this, if I could only grasp it. A hockey double rainbow, if you will.
Of course, I still can’t skate backward for shit, and late in the class I land really badly attempting crossovers (where you drive off an outside edge while stepping your other skate over the driving foot, for extra momentum … It sounds hard and is; but not as hard as I thought). That crash was a doozy. In fact, I’m typing this while wearing an elastic guard for a sprained right wrist and my neck and back are still killing me.
“You ok?” one of the instructors asked me, genuinely concerned. “Sure,” I said and kept on crossovering. Red Wings tough guy Bob Probert would have been proud of me. RIP.
It’s only now, the day after, I’m in pain. But hey, genuine hockey injuries! Cool.
And I did crossovers. And pivots. And swizzles. Baby-step versions but I did them. And paracetamol was invented for a reason.
Two weeks till they introduce sticks and pucks. What could go wrong?


  1. You can do crossovers? Arg. I’m too scared to even try them without pads!

    • Hiya Californian 🙂

      No, I can’t do crossovers … but after Attempt No. 1 on Wednesday, I feel confident that I will be able to. I actually got a few of them right and only fell once or twice (including the big splat – wrist and shoulder still screwed days later 🙂

      But I’m with you in only attempting them in full padding, at least at first. I find that with most of the harder hockey moves: without the padding I wouldn’t have the guts to really 100 % commit to the move, knowing when I fall it’s okay.

      How’s your training going?

      (Red Wings 6-2 today… yeah!)

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