Saturday, 31 January 2009

First of the year

Playing a game is what I suppose every player, regardless of their level, looks forward to. The test of all the plays you have been churning over and over again are actually put to the test. After tonights game against Gosport, I am relatively happy. I finished with +/- 1 and where I didn't convert on the 3-4 chances I had, I remain encouraged that the season will be a great success. It was great to see few of the new recruits getting goals and infact majority of our goals was put away by the two new players we had. Good to see the guys coming through and helping the team.

Hockey, or anything that you put your heart into, is an emotional rollercoaster. There are times when tempers boil over and frustration gets the best of you, but that is what the game is about. Hockey is such a noble sport and it teaches you a great deal about yourself and life in general. Hockey is all about being ready to explode, whether it is to a stride, a hit or a shot, if you are not willing or ready to explode every shift you will be screwed. Where I found I still need to work on is endurance and strenght. It's not easy for a 5'8" guy to go against guys who are a good foot taller and have the weight edge on you. Yet I thought tonight I held my own and finished most of my hits (that is when the guys hadn't turtled and turned their backs on me). I still need to find that explosiveness to make sure that I am able to go out there shift after shift, ready to explode and make a difference when I am out there.

I had the old chest nut conversation of which is better hockey or football. Being biassed I always argue hockey. True in football you are out 90 minutes on the pitch, but when you compare the dynamics of the two sports, hockey demands so much more. In a 45 second shift in hockey you will get hit, you will go from stopping and starting and at the end you will feel the lactic acid build in your legs and you will gasp for air. Where as football, you see guys mosying down the pitch, because the pitch is bigger, you don't need such a tight gap controll. Either way, the argument could go on and on, but the end result will be futile (Untill football players and fans realise that hockey is better).

Edit: After my last post, where I spoke of entertaining thoughts on a professional career, there has been a Facebook group created to spur me on, or watch me fail and poke fun of me. I've been surprised by the participation as there are now over 40 members in the group. Where the support is great, I want to make a few things clear. Professionals, despite the leagues they play in, are professionals because they have the skills required. Sure some might not be exceptional to play in the NHL, but still professionals are skilled compared to average joes like me.

So have I set my self a goal to give the pros a shot? That remains to be seen. I am training to get back to the top of my game and if it requires the off ice mentality of a pro, then so be it. I am quite happy to miss out on nights out and beers in favour of the gym. Where the dream of playing as a pro is a tasty one, is it a goal? Let's say that it is a dream, a dream so frail if you whisper its name it will break and vanish. All I am willing to say is... watch this space.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009


I was having a conversation on MSN last night with a friend of mine. As usual the conversation turned into talking about sports and what not. We are both avid hockey fans and both play to a varying degree of success.

Few of my friends have been hell bent on this idea that I should go and ask for try out with the Basingstoke Bison, which is the professional team in my current hometown. Where the idea is attractive and I’ve had nothing but positive encouragement from friends. It is certainly a goal to aspire to and work towards. If I ever make it, it would be truly Fabian Brunstrom style rise. Where I normally wouldn’t give kudos to a Swedish hockey player, Brunstrom has shown that with hard work, everything is possible.

Hockey in all of its beauty is about goals, whether it is that 6x4ft square or about setting goals for yourself and for your team. I have always been a goal oriented person and I think where my last season wasn’t as successful as the previous ones was because I had not set any visible goals for myself. The year before my goal was to get in to the Basingstoke Buffalo, which I did, though in the end £700 ITC cost torpedoed that attempt.

In 2007 when I was coaching the University roller hockey team, my goal was to win the national championship and we achieved that goal, though by the tournament I had relinquished my coaching duties to a more capable person who then carried the team to greater heights. Needless to say we won the national championship, so it was yet another goal I could tick off the list.

When you don’t set yourself goals or aspirations it is very difficult to succeed in life. Whether or not you achieve the goals you have set, it is always important to reflect upon the achievements that you did get to, even if the main goal escaped you. This way you can make yourself a better person, player, employee, employer etc. Like said I didn’t have a goal last season, nothing to work for, which lead to a lot of frustration and pondering whether I should carry on play or if I should hang up the skates.

I’m happy that I didn’t give up in the end, though I gave it some serious consideration. I set myself new goals, which I am working towards now and there are new goals that I am setting myself all the time. For the main part of this up and coming season my goal is to score a goals and work as a set up man, but most importantly make a difference to the team. I want to help the team get into the playoffs again and I don’t mean it in a half hearted ‘yeah I suppose the playoffs are all right’ way. I want to go all the way and not just come close, because close only gets you 16 games.
Who knows, if Bison was a goal of mine, would I be able to achieve it? I certainly hope so and that is what my friend said I should do as well. If I don't make it, atleast I have given it a try.

Monday, 26 January 2009


A few weeks back my team (The Cougars) had our first test of our fitness with a bleep test. Oh the joy of skating back and forth to a bleep. I kind of messed up my part of the test by going OTT with the first level and by the time I reached level five, my legs were screaming for mercy and calling me all sort of names that I wont publish here. I ended up finishing at Level 6.1, which is quite far off where I would’ve expected to be, but like any good athlete, I’ll blame it on the mistake I made at the start and on equipment. I’m still trying to find a good excuse from kit related field and so far I’m leaning towards “my stick was too heavy”.

The teams for the up and coming season were announced recently and there weren’t that many changes to the roster there. The only one I could see was Telford dropping out and being replaced by Peterborough. I still have fond memories from Peterborough, where the ice was so bumpy I think I lost all my fillings. Either way, it should be a good 16 games of hockey for the summer. My hopes are that we will play 18 games though, which would mean we made it to the playoffs and the medal round at the end of the season. I think everyone on the team were disappointed with the last season and missing out on the play-offs, but I hope we at least came out with some positives from it and the guys will be motivated to go at it again for the season.

The first test of our level will be this Saturday with Gosport playing a friendly against us. I personally have nothing but good memories from playing against Gosport. In three games against the team I have scored 3+2 points and taken several elbows to the head and been at the receiving end of some cheap shots. Personal points aside, I want to make sure that my performance will help the team win and if it means scoring a couple of goals, then that’ll be what I will do.

We have played one game since the end of the cup against Swindon and I’d say the team has come a long way since that defeat. I think the chemistry has gotten better and our big guns are still producing in scrimmages and so forth. The only thing I wish for Saturday is a solid, fast line and that we play simple and direct hockey without trying to be too fancy.

Time will tell and I shall be writing an update after the game.

Friday, 23 January 2009


So here they are. These are the programmes that I have used for the past three months.

Weeks 1-4 Strenght Training
Days 1&3 Sets Reps
Barbell Bench Press 5 8, 6, 4, 2, 1
Wide grip Latteral pulldowns 4 8,8,8,8
Incline barbell bench press 5 8,6,4,2,1
Barbell military press 5 8,6,4,2,1
Leg curls 5 8,6,,4,2,1
Calf Raises 4 20,20,20,20
Reverse wrist curls 4 8,8,8,8

Days 2&4

Squats 5 10,8,6,4,2
Leg press 5 10,8,6,4,2
Tricep pushdown 4 12,10,8,6
Skull crushes 5 12,10,8,6,2
Hammer Curls 4 12,10,8,6
Barbell Tricep Curls 4 12,10,8,6
Wrist curls 4 8,8,8,8

Weeks 5-8 Power training

Days 1&3 Sets Reps

Barbell bench press 3 10
Wide grip pull ups 2 failure
Push press 3 12
Leg curl 3 12
Calf raises 3 12
Dips 2 failure

Days 2&4

eg press 3 12
Power cleans 3 12
Bench dips 2 failure
Tricep curl 3 12
Reverse curl 3 12
Tricep kick back 4 12

Week 9-12
Days 1 & 3 Set Rep
arbell bench press 4 8,6,4,2,1
Close grip pull downs 4 8,8,8,8
Barbell military press 5 8,6,4,2,1
Leg Curl 5 10,8,6,4,2
Good mornings 4 15,15,15,15
incline barbell bench press 5 8,6,4,2,1

Days 2&4
quats 5 10,8,6,4,2
Deadlifts 5 10,8,6,4,2
Preacher curls 4 12,10,8,6
Tricep push downs 4 12,10,8,6
Reverse curls 4 12,10,8,6
Tricep kickback 4 12,10,8,6
Hammer Curls 4 8,8,6,6


Faced with a set back is always disheartening. Whether it is an injury or just a common cold, some guys try to push through these ‘adversities’ while others just take it day by day with hopes of a quick return. What I have found most difficult is building up strength in my legs. After my knee injury, I spent most of last season not doing any strength exercise on my legs, which caused most of the muscles to wither. Despite my specialist writing favourable comments about my muscle mass in my legs when I was going through physio, I still had to endure with losing speed and fitness.

Since then, like my last post indicates, I’ve been able to return to active training and I’m seeing some good results with building more strength in my legs and being able to execute the exercises and moves without any pain in my legs. The major challenge has been gaining confidence and fighting ‘the mental’ game. It is always a challenge when you’re about to squat 80kg and you realize how many reps you have to do. The same applies to ladder and skating drills. The minute you think about size of the task in front of you, you have invariably lost. When you focus on accomplishing one thing at a time (a rep, a drill, a shift) you are able to accomplish those small challenges.

My most recent challenges have been economical and health related. At the end of December 2008, I was teetering at a brink of a mental breakdown and being subsequently put on medication and having to make decisions on whether to continue ice or roller as I couldn’t afford both. Unfortunately roller lost, but thanks to my great team mates they have left the door open for me and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get back to the swing of things sooner rather than later.

Other health issues I’ve dealt with have been fighting off Costochondritis, which is an infection of the joints that join your ribs to your sternum. I’m OK for most of the time, but when ever I’m in a cold or dusty environment, it gets the better of me. It is challenging to start back checking when it feels like you are going under intense acupuncture.

I feel confident that once the infection has healed and I’ve managed to resolve the personal issues that caused me to go a bit loopy, I’ll be able to dedicate more focus to sports and overcome challenges. It is not as if I am sitting on my backside doing nothing, it is just challenging to get out the door and get to the gym. So far I have not missed a session, but it all feels like a chore rather than having a clear goal.

Last night was an exception though. An amazingly intense work out (I’ll try and remember to post the programmes I’ve used for the past 3 months) which really boost my confidence. Now all I need to find is that same spark that I had in the 2006-2007 season and I am half way there.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

The second (or is it the third) coming of this blog

Leading a hectic lifestyle and other activities made me forget the existence of this blog for almost a year. I now discovered it again, and in hopes that reflection and writing down my thoughts will help me improve as a player and my on ice performance I decided to detail the path I am taking to another Summer Cup competition.


I started training for the up and coming season in November 2008, so I am currently in month three of my six month campaign of getting back into shape. On a personal level my last campaign suffered greatly from a chronic knee injury and I spent most of the season re-habilitating and trying to play through searing pain.

My knee injury is caused by several impacts and twists it has taken and my over flexing joints, which eat away at the cartilage and ligaments of the knee. I went from scoring 18 goals and 5 assists in 12 games down to producing 8 goals and 4 assists in 11 games last season.


After two months of physical training and weight lifting I have managed to shed off 2% of body fat (damn Christmas in the way) and I have also began toning up while my strength has improved. I have been able to skate pain free for months now and it has made a difference in confidence.

I am still a long way off and the months ahead look gruelling as ever, with intensity of training increasing and external pressures from work and other things mounting up. I feel that this will be a test of wills and an interesting ‘experiment’ (in lack of a better word) on how dedication to a sport will go hand-in-hand whilst leading a ‘normal’ life.