Rod Hockey

By Mike Johnson

I miss the fixation of a child. With no job, little responsibility and few worries, we were free to fixate on games.
These fixations ran in spurts.

One month it was Monopoly. The next it was all Risk, the world conquest game. Or Landslide, the presidential election game.
These were brain games.

Physical games filled the gaps and released pent-up energy.

Rod hockey was a favorite for at least a decade. Every Minnesota household had a well-used version somewhere in their basement. They're probably still stored down there today.

Knobs were missing. Rods were bent, Players were attached by duct tape. No problem. We just adapted.

The strategy was simple and obvious. Get the puck to a winger in the opponent’s zone, then pass it toward your center while jamming that rod toward the goalie. With good timing and the right man alignment, the puck would bang off the center, past the goalie and into the plastic net.

Everyone used the same strategy. So as soon as a winger had the puck, the defender cheated his goalie to the middle, anticipating that center pass.

This left the side of the goal open for a direct shot from the winger.

While most kids practiced that center pass, I practiced the direct winger shot. Because you weren’t jamming the rod so hard, your shots were more accurate but nearly as brisk.

So my strategy was different. I'd launch a few center shots to get the defender jumpy with his goalie and wham! I'd slide one in from the winger.

Already a contrarian-trainee, games taught me to look for the angle others didn’t see. Then get GOOD at that angle.

Now I had THREE shots. Two wingers and the center. And I was also dabbling with ways to score using bank shots from my defenders.

Now it became a brain game.

I loved playing new guys. On the outside, I looked to be a regular schmoe. So I played that role by starting with the center passes.

“I know this routine,” the new guy thought.

BAM! I’d score from the right winger.

BAM! I’d score from the left winger.

Now he'd cheat toward my wingers and was slow to center the goalie.

BAM! I’d score with the center pass.

He never knew what hit him. One of us had created a winning game plan and it wasn't him.

There is always a better way to do things. Train yourself to look for it and you'll find uncommon success.

They might not remember your name. But they remember your results.

"Here comes that pucker who always wins."



Reject the Obvious


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