Some players worry that playing roller hockey will worsen their game on ice. Their concern stems from the difference in technique between the sports. While I can understand the reasoning behind this logic, I think players who deny themselves the opportunity to play inline hockey are doing themselves a disservice. Look at it this way: would it be wise for a snowboarder to avoid skateboarding, fearing his carving might suffer? Would you cease writing with a pencil because you wanted to keep your penmanship pure by only writing with a ballpoint pen? Sure, skating on the ice isn’t the same as rollerblading on the street. The ice gives where the street remains firm. Inline skates generally have heavier boots, and stopping sometimes involves dragging. I am not ignorant to the fact that you can develop bad ice skating habits on inlines. However, these lazy habits can be avoided if you are cognizant of what you are doing. Many roller hockey players are less efficient on ice because they are used to lifting their leg higher when finishing a stride. Try to avoid picking your feet on your follow through and you should be fine. One thing that can make your wheels feel more like blades setting them up to be rockered, so the middle wheels are closer to the ground than the outside ones. Using 80mm wheels in the center and 76mm and the outside can better simulate the feeling of an ice skate. Some roller hockey skates even have a rockered chassis so you can still use the same size wheels on all four slots.
There are numerous benefits to playing roller hockey to train for ice. Number one, you will improve your conditioning. Inline skating uses virtually the same muscles as ice skating, and carrying a stick isn’t much different. How many games have you seen when one line seems to be out of gas? Victories have been achieved simply because one team endures while the other lacks the physical fitness to keep up. It’s one thing to suffer defeat because you were outplayed, but personally I never EVER want to lose because my opponent was in better shape. Roller hockey will unquestionably improve your stamina.
Some other reasons to play include:
- Learn how to work as a team, specifically making and receiving passes
- Examine where to best position your body against a defender
- See if you can get better at carrying the puck (or ball) with your head up
- Determine what kind of dekes seem to work against opponents
- Discover what things irk you and how to discipline yourself to keep a cool head
Also consider this: If you aren’t playing inline hockey, what will you be doing instead? Watching TV? Playing Xbox? Hitting the gym? If it’s the gym, you might have a case against playing inline hockey 🙂 But seriously think about it that way. Instead of asking, “Will inline hockey worsen my ice hockey game?” you might contemplate, “Will going to the movies make me a better ice hockey player?” My point (and probably the conclusion of my argument) is this: there are many things you could do for your game that are worse than playing roller hockey.