Coach Nielsen's Ice Hockey Drills

Team Play Principles

Offensive Zone Play

The objective of offensive team play is to move the puck as quickly as possible toward the opponents net to attempt to score a goal.  Hockey Canada outlines 4 basic principles to achieve this objective:

Principle # 1 Pressure
Principle # 2 Puck Control
Principle # 3 Support
Principle # 4 Transition

Principle # 1 Pressure

The principle of pressure means that all offensive team play is based on quick player or puck movement that forces the defender to react more quickly than they would like.  It creates TIME & SPACE for the attacker.

Pressure is accomplished by:

a) Speed: a quickness to attack that will limit the reaction time of the defender and force defensive error.

b) Concentration of Attack: any action or movement in a confined area which creates an offensive numerical advantage.

Principle # 2 Puck Control

A team which is able to maintain possesion of the puck will be able to create scoring opportunities.

Puck Protection is accomplished by:

a) Puck Protection: any action or movement that keeps the puck from the defender through the use of one’s body. (Example, driving to the net)

b) Individual Skills: the individual who develops quick skating strides, acceleration with the puck, drive skating, sculling, crossing over to cut in, and cutting to the net, will contribute to a teams ability to execute puck control.

Principle # 3 Support

Players away from the puck must involve themselves as a passing option and as part of the attack.  This requires that players are able to read the checking intentions and anticipate the movements of the puck carrier in order to react accordingly.

Support is accomplished by:

a) Triangulation: any offensive formation which creates offensive triangles, thus providing the puck carrier with two passing optionsand enabling the offensive team to create width and depth in the attack

b) Mid Lane: this applies to the offensive attack through the neutral zone which by passing to a teammate in the midlane or by carrying the puck from an outside lane to the midlane, the puck carrier is in position to initiate a play to either side.  In the offensive zone, teh attackers will also attempt to penetrate the slot (midlane) for a good scoring opportunity.

c) Numerical Advantage : good support can contribute to the pressure applied on the defense by creating numerical advantage and outnumbering the defenders in a confined area.

d) Movement: players away from the puck must be active in order to be involved in the attack.

e) Balance: although it is desirable to outnumber the opponent in the area of the puck, it is equally desirable to have balance in your attack by filling all three lanes.  This will assist in stretching the defense which increases the space and time available to the attacking team.

Principle # 4 Transition

This is defined as the ability of a team to quickly move from defense to offense and vice versa.

Transition is accomplished by the Counter Attack: this can be done quickly by a fast break (pressure) or in a controlled manner with puck control.

Defensive Team Play

Defense is the basic phase of the game during which your team does not have possession of the puck.  The purpose is to recover possession of the puck and/or prevent the opposition from scoring.  In order for any team to be successful, they need play well defensively.  Defensive team play has two basic objectives :

1.  Deny or restrict the use of time and space by the offensive team
2.  Regain possession of the puck or atleast limit puck possession by the opponent

Hockey Canada outlines 4 basic principles to achieve this objective:

Principle # 1 Pressure
Principle # 2 Stall/Contain
Principle # 3 Support
Principle # 4 Transition

Principle # 1 Pressure

Pressure reduces time and space.  Pressure is accomplished by:

a) Speed – quickness to defend – limit offensive options – force errors
b) Pursuit – involves immediate and correct angling to limit opponent’s options
c) Concentration – grouping of defensive players to restrict space
d) Commit – determines whether the defensive player commits or contain the offensive player with the puck

Principle # 2 Stall/Contain

Force the opponent to stop or slow down the speed of the attack.  Allow time for better defensive coverage.  The defensive player pressures directly or steers the opponent to the outside lane.  This is accomplished by holding the ice (as ub a two on one), keeping defensive side positioning, and forcing to the outside.

Principle # 3 Support

Support means that the defensive player must be active away from the puck by reducing the passing options and reading and reacting to the movement of the offensive players.  This is usually accomplished by man to man or zone coverage.  It also requires that the defensive team is not outnumbered in the defensive zone.

Principle # 4 Transition

The defensive team must be alert to change quickly from defense to offense when possession of the puck is gained from your opponent’s.

Basic Hockey Guidelines

Defensive Zone
–  Think defense first and offense only when in full control of the puck
–  Keep your head up and take the man first and then the puck.  Take the offensive man out after he has passed the puck to eliminate a return pass.
–  Cover the slot at all times.  Move to a man coming from behind the net only when he is a direct threat to score.
–  One defenseman should always be in front of the net and control any player in the low slot area.  The defenseman should face up ice and be aware of players in front of the net.  To watch the play in the corner, the defenseman should turn his head but keep his body squared up ice.  The defenseman should not turn his back from the slot area unless a player is coming from behind the net and is a direct threat to score.
–  When the defenseman has the puck just inside the blue line and is being pressured, he should dump the puck out over the blue line on the board side.
–  When experiencing difficulty in moving th epuck out under pressure, freeze or ice the puck to get a face-off.
–  Never pass the puck rink wide or through the center in your own end.
–  Never pass the puck without looking in your own zone.  The man must be there.
–  Don’t shoot the puck arounds the boards unless a man is in position to receive it
–  Never go backward in your own zone unless you are on a Power Play or there is no forechecking pressure.
–  Never allow your team to be putnumbered in the defensive zone (ex. forwards are too high)

Neutral Zone – Offense
– If teammates are covered, dump the puck in or turn back and pass it to the defense, and then regroup and attack again.
–  Never try to stickhandle past the opposition when teammates are with you
–  The forwards without the puck should move to open ice with their stick on the ice, preparing to take a pass.
–  Never go offside, straddle the blue line or cut in front of or behind the puck carrier.

Neutral Zone – Defense
–  Backcheck by picking up the offside forward.  Take the man to the net if he stays outside the defenseman.  If the player cuts to the middle in front of the defense, stay in the lane.  The backchecker should be on the inside of the offensive man, and slightly ahead of him.
–  If the backchecker is trailing the play, pick up the high slot area.

Offensive Zone
–  One man always drives to the net (drive for the rebounds, you must want to score, release the puck quickly)
–  Shoot the puck when in a key scoring area (slot).  Extra passes can end up in misses opportunities.
–  The defenseman should shoot the puck quickly from the point.  If you are pressured from the point, dump it in the corner.

Filed under: coaching, Defense, Offense, Systems

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