If you’re a parent of a Washington Wild player that is passionate about the game, you’ve probably resigned yourself to the fact that you’re going to lose at least one piece of décor and maybe a window or two. However, there’s good news: you don’t have to sacrifice your house so she can perfect a slap shot or stick handling techniques.
Players need to practice hockey on and off the ice and, for most people, that means plenty of time in the basement or garage. While there are power skating schools and hockey camps during the summer, kids need a more well-rounded and fun practice regimen that includes:
During the off-season, your daughter can have what is called an “exposure drought.” Due to limited ice time during the summer, it can be hard (or expensive) to get some on-ice training if she wants to keep practicing and playing during the summer. Additionally, that means if her goal is to get promoted to a higher level team and they go a couple of weeks – or worse, months – without any training and only starts practicing when tryouts are just around the corner, she will be at a significant disadvantage to other kids who have been at it throughout the off-season.
That means home is the place to practice… and here’s how you keep your house and everything in it safe.
What to protect: When your child is practicing shooting drills, be careful to protect your window, walls, garage doors, and floors. These parts of your home are the most vulnerable to stray pucks.
Tip 1: You can’t allow your child to use real hockey pucks indoors during shooting drills. Even though the standard hockey puck only weighs 6 ounces, it’s still an inch thick and 3 inches in diameter, meaning it can do plenty of damage to your drywall, a window, or to your garage door. Instead of standard pucks, try purchasing some soft hockey pucks. They are made from felt or sponge, allowing your child to work on their shot without destroying your home.
Tip 2: Protecting your floors with removable floor tiles. Invest in a smooth flooring surface, something that you could probably find at places like your local skate shop. Removable flooring tiles are also a good option. If you can’t find or don’t like those options, you can also opt for a shooting pad, which should protect your floors from scratches and scuffs from a hockey stick.
What to protect: When your daughter is practicing shooting drills, be careful to protect your walls and floors.
Tip 1: Invest in a stickhandling ball. The fastest and best way to practice puck control is through using a stick handling ball, which can help speed up your wrists and your reflexes. It’s usually easy to find stick handling balls made from wood, rubber or other materials that are the right weight and respond in the ways that pucks do. However, you still need to protect your walls from overzealous shots – and in that case, it’s a good idea to invest in a heavy-duty shooting tarp. Portable tarps are best because you can keep them indoors and bring them outside for practice.
Tip 2: Invest in a hockey net. Many people purchase a net only to realize that the true damage comes from pucks that don’t hit the goal. Keep in mind that you may also need a tarp behind it, unless your daughter is using the net against an unfinished concrete wall in the basement. Some hockey nets come with backstops that affix to them, which can also help protect your walls. The only concern is particularly hard shots with actual pucks; those can punch holes in lower-quality nets.
Tip 3: Consider a shooting pad. Kids who are practicing more than just shots will need more than just a shooting pad; this is where removable flooring tiles come in handy. An unfinished basement or garage floor can substitute, but you can’t skimp on protecting walls.
What to protect: When your daughter is practicing conditioning, agility, or skating at home, make sure to protect your floors.
Tip 1: Use padding and non-slip flooring. While your daughter can’t skate at home, she can practice spirals and yoga to work on the muscles necessary on the ice. Cardio, too. Padding is what’s most important for this, though, because the main concern isn’t really the house – it’s your child’s joints from high-impact exercises. You’ll also want a non-slip surface for these types of exercise, even if it feels a little counterintuitive to hockey practice. The same types of rubber, vinyl or PVC you’d find in a gym are ideal for this type of indoor, off-season hockey practice.
Whether your child is practicing alone or with friends, it’s a good idea to set ground rules to help protect your belongings and your home. Many parents find it helpful to lay down these laws:
Tip 1: Avoid contact between players. While it’s more realistic if players get close while vying for the puck, it’s not safe for a couple of reasons: one, your daughter or her friends most likely aren’t wearing pads, and two, a skirmish can escalate quickly and result in somebody crashing through drywall or a window.
Tip 2: Make sure mobile breakable items are removed from the practice area. Though it may take some time to move things around, if it means that things don’t get broken then it is worth it.
Tip 3: Floor tiles or shooting pads are mandatory. Ensure your daughter and her friends know that if you have the equipment available to protect your home, they’re responsible for using it properly.
Tip 4: Don’t forget…no actual pucks in the house. Stickhandling balls or pucks made from felt or foam should be okay, as long as you’ve given the kids the go-ahead and they’re using tarps.