What are ice hockey’s feeder sports?
I think the best transition players have come from roller hockey, of course.
These players know positioning and can stickhandle. They have balance, though it’s attuned to the wheels and not the ice. Once these converts figure out the footwork, they’re very strong ice hockey players. One thing I have noticed about roller-to-hockey players is that they tend to kick up their feet at the end of the striding motion–I guess this is related to the heavy wheels?
The other strong transfer is from soccer.
The positioning seems very similar and I’ve noticed soccer players are heads above other beginners in figuring out where they should be on the ice. Soccer converts are also usually in the best cardio shape, I guess from running around on that big field for long minutes at a time.
However, not accustomed to moving on ice (and learning to skate is no small thing!) and not having experience with a stick and small object are where these converts need to work on their skills.
Former figure skaters have all the footwork we need and more, but without stickhandling experience, these converts will need to concentrate on puck work; it’s usually easy for them to streak up the ice, but they need to make sure they can handle the puck on the way up and shoot it once they get in the zone.
Though I haven’t heard of anyone playing ringette lately, I know it was designed as the “female alternative” to hockey. When I did my anthropological study of hockey back in 2000, a couple of the girls said they had played ringette early on (and were quick to follow with, “but I like hockey much better!).
I’m not familiar with bandy or broomball, but the positioning seems it would carry over, though possibly not the cardio (both seem slower than ice hockey) or the same stickhandling–especially broomball. And what’s with those huge nets??
The last two possibilities I can think of are field hockey and lacrosse. I would guess that the positioning and cardio would benefit these athletes in their transition to hockey, possibly also the stick-and-ball coordination necessary. Like soccer players, though, figuring out the whole skating (and skating-while-puckhandling) thing is a big component of their learning curve.
Anybody have any other feeder sports in mind? Did you play one of these sports before coming to ice hockey? How did it augment or challenge your game?