Coach Nielsen's Ice Hockey Drills

www.IceHockeyDrills.info

Teaching Defensive Zone Play

About seven years back I got this document from Casey Jones, then Associate Head Coach (Defense) for Ohio State University. It went through in some detail how OSU played defense and how the coaches went about teaching the system to the players. This document goes through some of the steps on how to teach the OSU defensive zone system to your team. The handwriting in the document is a little hard to read so I am also including a link to a version I created in DrillDraw that is easier to read but contains the same information. I hope you find this document helpful in teaching defense to your team.

Both documents are in PDF format and pretty large so be patient while they download.

Casey Jones Handwritten OSU System Notes

DrillDraw Version of the OSU System

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Filed under: coaching, Defense, Defense, Systems

New Stuff – Plays and Systems Website

I thought it might be helpful to some of the coaches who visit our site if they had access to my team playbook. After last season I did this and it was a big success, so this year I took it a bit further. I’ve created a site for Ice Hockey Plays and Systems that you may have interest in using with your teams next season. Basically it’s a series of videos describing different plays and systems that I either use with my current teams or know enough about to share with my readers.

I have a section on off ice training that can help you get your team in shape during the summer months. The training drills need only a simple parking lot or open area along with some chalk and maybe a few cones. I’ve used this training regimen with my teams for the past three seasons and it has been well received by the players and shown success at the beginning of each season when my teams have started strong.

I have a section under “Printed Material” where all the plays are documented in DrillDraw format and can be printed out.

Currently I’ve loaded faceoff plays and breakouts as well as defensive zone coverage and penalty kill videos. I will continue to add content throughout the spring and summer so that by the time next season starts you will have a place you can send your players to if you want them to learn any of the plays or just use it yourself to help teach your team some of the information. I hope it’s something you’re interested in and it helps you with your team in some small way.

To visit the site go to

www.IceHockeyPlaysAndSystems.info

or just go to the normal drills site and click on the link on the right side of the page.

As always, thanks to all of you for your support and I will do my best to keep both sites loaded with useful and FREE content.

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Filed under: coaching, Defense, Forecheck, Offense, Power Play, Systems

Team Concepts – Puck Support

Let’s discuss one of the most important skills you can perform early in the season to quickly (and consistently) help put your team on top. It’s called puck support.

Puck support is your team’s ability to maintain control of the puck while moving it into a scoring opportunity. Puck support has both individual and team components. From a team perspective, it requires a collective effort to move the puck into your offensive zone and into a scoring position. From an individual perspective, it requires each non-puck-carrying player (supporting) to provide options for the puck carrier.

To be effective in this support role, players must anticipate the puck carrier’s intentions, read the defensive pressure being applied on the puck carrier, and adjust his or her position in relation to the puck carrier. Positioning of support players with respect to the puck carrier is important because movement by all players creates an attack that is always more difficult for the opposition to cover.

Three options that each supporting player needs to work on include getting open for a pass, clearing an area to allow space for the puck carrier to skate, and supporting a shot on net. These three options require supporting players to be able to read, react, and anticipate quickly, both individually and as a team.

For a Pass

When one player has the puck, it is generally the responsibility of at least one defenseman and one forward, as supporting players, to get open for a pass. Supporting players should maneuver themselves into an open position to create options for the puck carrier, and should base their movements on the puck carrier, the defenders, and the open playing surface available. An example of poor support by a puck carrier’s teammates is shown in Figure 1 while good puck support is shown in Figure 2.

Figure #1

Figure #2

Figure 2

Notice in Figure 1 that all offensive support players (circled) are covered, while in Figure 2, LD and RW have moved enough to become passing options for LW and can provide the offensive team time and space to maintain puck control until a scoring opportunity is created. In tight quarters, a give-and-go play works well, providing the puck carrier has an opportunity to quickly get past a defender.

Clear the Way

The second way  support players can help the puck carrier (and the team) is to maneuver so that the puck carrier has room to skate with the puck. This involves players spreading out and away from the puck carrier, creating space for that player.

If an opponent is close to the puck carrier, a supporting teammate can cross in the path of a defender (employing a legal screen or pick). This will give the puck carrier an added second or two to skate toward an open area and be able to set up a scoring opportunity. Figure 3 shows an example of a pick, set by LW on the opponent’s center (XC). This creates some open space for the offensive center (C) to skate with the puck to the outside of the defenseman and into the offensive zone.

Figure 3

Figure 3

Support the Shot

Supporting the puck carrier can turn into supporting a shot, if the puck carrier decides to shoot. When in the offensive zone, support players have to be prepared for a shot (and a rebound) at any time. Two important factors are positioning and quickness. Proper positioning for a shot means getting into a location near the slot for a screen, deflection or rebound.

If a defenseman is shooting (as shown in Figure 4), then the three forwards can position themselves to get a rebound, whether it comes out to the center or off to one of the forwards. Timing, quickness, and strength to move into position in the slot are essential factors in obtaining rebounds.

Figure 4

Figure 4

By providing the puck carrier with various levels of support (passing, skating, shooting) you can individually contribute for a successful team effort.

Filed under: coaching, General, Offense, Systems

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

Defensive Zone Coverage

Players need to accept defensive responsibilities as a crucial part of the game and understand the importance of keeping things simple and basic in your own zone. If you make a mistake in your own end, the opposition will get a direct scoring chance. Some key elements of Defensive Zone Coverage (DZC) is proper positioning on the ice, hard work, communication with your teammates, and keeping things basic.

There are several systems that teams use for their DZC, but the end result is the same; to get back possession of the puck and go from defense to offense. There is not one system that is better than the other; it is just based on what the coaching staff is comfortable with and the strength of the players.

At an early age, all players must work with some form of Zone Defense, so they get familiar with their basic positioning on the ice. As players get older, they will probably get familiar with more advanced systems, such as man to man, or Box plus One.

I will be discussing a system which is called “The Combination”. The name originates from the fact that this system is a combination of zone defense and man to man coverage.

Combination DZC
The “Combination DZC” is a system that many PRO and Junior teams use. Although some teams might call it different names, this system is basically a combination of Man to Man coverage with a Zone Defense.

This system includes both conservative and aggressive elements, which make it very useful for teams to be successful. The conservative aspect is that each of the 5 players is responsible for one of the five areas in the defensive zone (Zone Defense), whereas the aggressive aspect comes from the fact that players are given the freedom to leave their area and help out a teammate in another area (when you are out numbered in a certain area of the zone). Players are encouraged to pressure the puck and be pro-active in the defensive zone, not re-active.

Responsibilities:
D1
– move in and challenge the puck carrier
– pressure/contain/stall your man
– keep your eyes up on his chest
– stay between your man and the net (defensive side positioning)
– keep a tight gap if possible

D2
– protect the front of the net area
– control opponents stick, play tough, keep defensive side positioning (referees allow more physical play when battling in front of the net, be aggressive)
– if your man moves away from net area (high slot), you need to stay in his shooting lane, and take a few strides in his direction
– if puck changes corner, or area, you have to read your defensive partner, you can either wait for your partner to come protect the net area and then you go and pressure the puck carrier (release), or you can stay in front of the net and let your partner go and pressure the puck carrier in the opposite corner. Either way there always needs to be a defenseman in front of the net (Communication with your partner is very important).

F1
– the first forward into the defensive zone (not necessarily the center) plays down low supporting D1 battling for the puck
– always stay in between your man and the net
– do not over commit where one pass can beat two players (yourself and D1)
– if defenseman gets beat, play the 2 on 1 and stall play as much as possible
– if puck changes corner, you need to follow the puck to opposite corner and continue supporting defenseman (stay down low)

F2
– the second forward back into the zone should cover the weak side slot area, secure middle of the rink
– keep your head on a swivel, know where puck and your point man is at all times
– your main responsibility is to protect the front of the net (slot area), and your second responsibility is the weak side point man (although this can vary depending on coaches philosophy)
– make sure weak side point man does not sneak around you and rush to the net
– Be ready to block shots

F3
– the third forward back into the zone should cover the strong side point.
– keep your head on a swivel; you are responsible for strong side point man, make sure he does not beat you to the net by going around you
– stay in between your man and the net, staying away from the boards to take away the lane to the net
– be ready to sag down low if necessary if a teammate gets beat and your team is outnumbered in the slot area
– you are responsible for defending the high cycle, staying with your point man
– Be ready to block shots

Overall Key Points to DZC:
– ALWAYS protect the net area
– Always stay in between your opponent and the net (defensive side positioning)
– Never give up a second scoring opportunity
– Team work is key
– If back checking forwards are not sure where to go  ALWAYS go down to the slot area and figure it out from there.
– When blocking a shot you must get directly in front of the shooter.
– When the puck is along the boards the first defender takes the body and the second get the puck
– For F2 & F3, always be ready to SAG to the net/slot area if a teammate down low gets beat
– Some teams (coaches) switch F2 & F3 responsibilities (example they have F2 cover the strong side point). Either way, forwards need to understand the importance of having all 5 players back in the defensive zone as quickly as possible
– Some coaches want their weak side defenseman (in front of the net) to play man on man with the player in the slot area and follow him wherever he goes (man on man)

-Defense at the Posts  when opposing player is behind your net with the puck
-Defense at the Posts (DAP) is making sure to cut off the opposition at the goal line, by preventing the offensive player from attacking the net from below the goal line.
-If opposition is set up in back of the net, have both defenseman protecting one post each, facing the puck carrier behind the net.
-F1 should be in the low slot area, ready to protect one of the posts that are left vacant by a defenseman that has attacked the puck carrier.
-F2 & F3 should sag down in the high slot, with a head on a swivel making sure they are aware of their point men.
-Always try to make attacking player come out behind the net on his backhand.

Filed under: coaching, Defense, Defense, Systems, , ,

Line Chemistry

Certain great hockey players are remembered as much for the lines they played on as for their own individual accomplishments. The French Connection. The Triple Crown. The Kid Line. Even the Red Army’s famed KLM line is etched as a unit in our hockey memories.

Sometimes, when the chemistry is right among three players, it seems like there’s no stopping them. And before you know it, they’re tagged with a nickname that links them together forever.

Ron Mason, the winningest coach in U.S. college hockey, has put together many line combinations over the years. The Michigan State Spartans former head coach has learned from experience that finding the right line combinations helps improve both team chemistry and individual performance.

Balance your lines

Every team should have checking lines and offensive lines. Within the line itself, you like to have personalities that mesh and can play together. The fact is, some kids just relate to and interact with each other better than others. This is important not only in games, but also in practice where they can work together on a regular basis.

“I like to have a playmaker, a checker, and a scorer on one line, to give it balance,” Mason explains. “The checker gets the puck to the playmaker and then he gets it to the scorer. This is a balanced offensive line. But,” he adds, “you won’t be able to have all your lines like this.”

Therefore, the key to assembling successful line combinations is to make the best possible use of the talents and chemistry you have on your team.

You might want to put together a line strictly for defensive purposes. You will want three checkers on your defensive line, and will use them in specific situations. “You will want this line against (the opposition’s) best line when the games are close,” says Mason.

Combinations aren’t just for forwards either. You should pair your line combinations up front with specific defenseman, as well. Offensive defensemen tend to work better with an offensive forward line. “If you have a defensive defenseman there to start your play up ice, he will never get the puck to the offense,” offers Mason.

Blueline pairs, too

To go along with your line combinations up front, you’ll want effectively paired defenders. Usually that means a strong defensive-minded defenseman paired with one who is offensive-minded. “I don’t like to have two offensive-minded defensemen playing together. I would rather split them up,” says Mason. “You are more likely to give something up defensively with two offensive-minded defensemen.” But by pairing one with the other you can often achieve a nice balance of offensive punch and defensive security.

Mason notes that being able to find two or three lines that are compatible and successful is a real blessing. If you are that lucky, then only slight adjustments will probably need to be made to your lines during the season. But if the trios you’ve put together aren’t gelling, Mason suggests changing line combos until you feel they are working well. “The year we won the National Championship, we changed our lines on a regular basis,” says Mason.

Youth coaches also need to know what position kids should play. While most parents probably want their kids to play forward (and score all the goals!), Mason disagrees. He feels it is an advantage for kids to play defense at a young age because players will be forced into doing more things on the ice.

The defenseman has to skate backwards, pivot, react, and handle the puck in his own end. Plus, defenders usually get more ice time than forwards. Think about rotating youngsters on defense. You’ll often find that an offensively skilled player can develop even more while playing defense.

Youth players should start to think more about what position they should play on a permanent basis when they reach the Pee Wee age level. However, it is not uncommon to change positions at a later age. Mason recalls moving one of his advanced players to forward from defense, and that player went on to play in the NHL for 10 years.

While picking or assigning a position isn’t an irrevocable decision, it is something that must be done in order for players to fit together as a team. In order to find the right blend. The right balance. And hopefully in the end, the right chemistry.

Filed under: coaching, Forwards, Offense

Golden Rules for Defensemen

These Golden rules are the key items players should be striving to master as they progress up through the ranks to high school and college. The best players at the highest levels of hockey follow the Golden Rules most often.

A player of average skills and speed will do very well if these rules are mastered. While the rules are basic and seem obvious, it may take many years of concentrated effort for most players to automatically perform them properly. This automatic reaction is what coaches should be teaching and players working towards.

1. Always back your partner — on the offensive blue line, in the neutral zone and especially in the defensive zone.

2. Always one defenseman in front of the net when the opposition has the puck in your zone or there is danger that they may gain possession. For young defenseman, (mites through early PeeWees) the rule should always be one defenseman in front of the net when the puck is in your zone.

3. Do not leave the offensive zone too soon. Leaving too soon is a much more common mistake than leaving too late for a large percentage of defensemen from mites through high school. It backs the defense up too fast and too far and makes “pacing” the attacking forward much harder.

4. Always play defense first. If attacking with the puck, only go deep into the offensive zone until the prime scoring opportunity is over — and you are part of it.

5. Never play a 1-on-1 head on. Give the attacker a little room on one side to force him to go where you want him to go.

6. Stagger one defenseman up a little farther than the other in 2-on-2 and 3-on-2 situations. The up man will generally be nearest to the puck carrier.

7. Shoot intelligently from the point. The best shot is always low, generally not too hard (so it stays in the scoring area for rebounds) and accurate. Defensmen seldom are shooting to score, but rather to put the puck into the scoring area so that forwards can score. Always look up so shots are not into opposing players and so that passes to wide wings or partner can be made when appropriate.

8. Do not “tie-up” with people in front of the net, rather gain position and control.

9. Do not ever “tie-up” with an opposing player anywhere when your team is a man short. As the players on the team with a penalty tie up and are out of the play, the odds get better on the power play, i.e. 4-on-3 is better than 5-on-4, 3-on-2 is better than 4-on-3, etc.

10. Do not stand looking for someone to pass to, especially in the defensive zone. Look-move-look-pass. This reduces the chances of being surprised from the back or side, makes the pass more accurate and forces the opponent to begin retreating.

11. When turning with a player breaking around the outside, keep the feet moving — do not lunge or reach without moving your feet. Young players have an especially hard time with this, mainly because of their lack of skating and turning skills.

12. Work, work, work on backwards skating and turning. A defenseman must be as comfortable going backwards and sideways as forward. Young players all the way through college must continue to practice these skills as their bodies grow and change.

13. Do not pass to covered forwards – carry it, cross-pass to partner or “eat it” if necessary. Defensemen must gain confidence in cross-passing and in carrying the puck to open up the attack, allowing their forward to get open. Feeding the opposition’s point has been a weakness at all levels since day one.

14. Check only for purpose. Checking just for the sake of a hit is seldom of value and creates risk of self-injury, missed checks and open opposition players, as well as penalties.

15. Communicate — with your partner, to goalkeeper and your forwards. It is an important part of teamwork. Do not communicate with opposing players

— it seldom is of value and exposes your emotions.

16. Follow your attacking forwards closely (20 to 30 feet) and move quickly into the offensive zone after the puck goes into the zone. Many defensemen are lazy moving up the ice and allow the puck to turn around before they get over the blue line.

17. The blue lines are critical. Always clear the puck over the defensive blue line as a first priority – then move up to the blue line quickly. Defend both blue lines with as much vigor as is reasonable as the opposition attacks down the ice – they are natural points to stop the attack.

18. Learn the critical skills of flipping the puck (out of the zone) and deflecting the puck off the glass (out of the zone) at the earliest possible age. They are key puck movement skills.

19. Learn the skills and situations to cross pass and cooperate with your partner to move the puck out of the defensive zone.

20. Know your job in the defensive zone and do it consistently and well.

 

Filed under: coaching, Defense, Defensemen

Golden Rules for Forwards

The Golden Rules are the key items players should strive to master as they progress up through the ranks to high school and college. The best players at the highest levels of hockey follow most of the Golden Rules most often.

Players of average skills and speed will do very well if these rules are mastered. While the rules are basic and seem obvious, it may take many years of concentrated effort for most players to automatically perform them properly.

This automatic reaction is what coaches should be teaching and what players should be working toward.

1. Know what your job is — in all three zones — and do it each time. Don’t try to do a teammate’s job or you will fail at your own. Ask questions in practice if you are unsure about any situations during play of face-offs. Intelligent hockey is what wins games.

2. Backcheck at full speed until you have someone covered when coming back to your zone. Backchecking at full speed is simply the complement of attacking at full speed. Don’t be a one-direction hockey player.

3. When backchecking, pick up the most open man without the puck. If the puck is in your area, it may well be appropriate to go after the puck carrier. However, the player without the puck is often the most dangerous. Often it is most effective to let the defenseman take the puck carrier and to take away passes by covering the other open forward.

4. Put out a full and honest effort on each shift, then get off the ice. Maximum effort and short shifts have proven to be the most desirable at all levels of hockey.

5. Push the puck in the offensive zone or get a whistle when you or anyone on your line is tired. A tired line is most vulnerable — it is seldom productive to play tired. It’s always desirable to take a whistle in the defensive zone then to defend it without legs.

6. Always attack with the puck. Don’t make it easy for the other team to catch you from behind. A pressured attack is much harder for a defenseman to cover and results in more 2-on-1 and 3-on-1 situations.

7. Move the puck up ice with passes to linemates ahead that are open, then move quickly to join the rush. Don’t force passes to covered linemates ahead. Skating the puck up the ice is the slowest alternative.

8. Get into the habit of shooting when in the slot area unless an obvious pass is available. It is seldom productive to stickhandle further once in the slot unless to gain a better angle on the goaltender or let linemates move in for rebounding. Extra passes look good but often take away scoring chances. The key offensive strategy of hockey is to get shots from the slot. When they are available, they should be taken.

9. Always use a wrist or snap shot when shooting from the slot. Slap shots provide neither quickness nor accuracy from the slot.

10. Move away from the net when a teammate has the puck behind the opposition goal line or wide and deep on the boards and move toward the net when your defense or high forward has the puck in a shooting position. It is easier to remember to “move out when the puck is inside and move in
when the puck is outside.” The tendency is to move up close to the net when a teammate has the puck in the corner or behind the net. However, up close is where most of the congestion and close coverage is. A high slot position will result in more opportunities for clear shots. When a defenseman is in shooting position, on the other hand, moving to the net creates the best screening of the goaltender and also puts players around the net for rebounds. There are some details to be worked out by individual coaches, but the basic concept is important.

11. Take specific care not to go offside when attacking in advantage situations (i.e., 2-on-1, 3-on-2). While it is seldom good to be offside, it is critical to complete a 2-on-1 or 3-on-2 situation as many times as possible each game. It is best to be conservative going over the blueline in these situations.

12. When throwing the puck into the zone, shoot it to the opposite corner or off the end board where it will come out at a difficult angle for both the goaltender and defenseman to handle. Shooting the puck at the goaltender or around the boards gives control to the opposing goaltender who can easily feed a defenseman or wing.

13. Don’t tie up with an opposing player when your team is shorthanded. The odds of scoring get better as fewer players are involved in a power-play situation (i.e., 4-on-3 is better that 5-on-4).

14. Don’t retaliate from checks or infractions, whether legal or not. Part of the forward’s job is to take checks and keep playing. Retaliation often results in a penalty, and referees often miss the initial infraction.

15. Communicate with your linemates and other teammates. It is one of the most important parts of teamwork. Don’t ever communicate with opposing players — it seldom is of value and exposes your emotions.

16. Constantly practice your weakest skills. Get away from the habit of just shooting when you have free time in practice. Other skills are more important. If you do shoot, practice while moving.

17. Learn to be a good all around player — defensively as well as offensively.

Courtesy of John Russo

Filed under: coaching, Forwards, Offense

Building Puck Support Concepts

Let’s discuss one of the most important skills you can perform early in the season to quickly
(and consistently) help put your team on top. It’s called puck support.

Puck support is your team’s ability to maintain control of the puck while
moving it into a scoring opportunity. Puck support has both individual and team
components. From a team perspective, it requires a collective effort to move
the puck into your offensive zone and into a scoring position. From an individual
perspective, it requires each non-puck-carrying player (supporting) to provide
options for the puck carrier.

To be effective in this support role, players must anticipate the puck carrier’s
intentions, read the defensive pressure being applied on the puck carrier, and
adjust his or her position in relation to the puck carrier. Positioning of support
players with respect to the puck carrier is important because movement by all
players creates an attack that is always more difficult for the opposition to
cover.

Three options that each supporting player needs to work on include getting
open for a pass, clearing an area to allow space for the puck carrier to skate,
and supporting a shot on net. These three options require supporting players
to be able to read, react, and anticipate quickly, both individually and as
a team.

For a Pass
When one of your teammates has the puck, it is generally the responsibility
of at least one defenseman and one forward, as supporting players, to get open
for a pass. Supporting players should maneuver themselves into an open position
to create options for the puck carrier, and should base their movements on the
puck carrier, the defenders, and the open playing surface available. An example
of poor support by a puck carrier’s teammates is shown in Figure 1 while good
puck support is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 1 & 2

Notice in Figure 1 that all offensive support players (circled) are covered,
while in Figure 2, LD and RF have moved enough to become passing options for
LF and can provide the offensive team time and space to maintain puck control
until a scoring opportunity is created. In tight quarters, a give-and-go play
works well, providing the puck carrier an opportunity to quickly get past a
defender.

Figure 3

Clear the Way


The second way support players can help the puck carrier (and the team) is to
maneuver so that the puck carrier has room to skate with the puck. This involves
players spreading out and away from the puck carrier, creating space for that
player.

If an opponent is close to the puck carrier, a supporting teammate can cross
in the path of a defender (employing a legal screen or pick). This will give
the puck carrier an added second or two to skate toward an open area and be
able to set up a scoring opportunity. Figure 3 shows an example of a pick, set
by LF on the opponent’s center (XC). This creates some open space for the offensive
center (C) to skate with the puck to the outside of the defenseman and into
the offensive zone.

Figure 4

Support the Shot


Supporting the puck carrier can turn into supporting a shot, if the puck carrier
decides to shoot. When in the offensive zone, support players have to be prepared
for a shot (and a rebound) at any time. Two important factors are positioning
and quickness. Proper positioning for a shot means getting into a location near
the slot for a screen, deflection or rebound.

If a defenseman is shooting (as shown in Figure 4), then the three forwards
can position themselves to get a rebound, whether it comes out to the center
or off to one of the forwards. Timing, quickness, and strength to move into
position in the slot are essential factors in obtaining rebounds.

By providing the puck carrier with various levels of support (passing, skating,
shooting) you can individually contribute for a successful team effort.

Filed under: coaching, Offense, Systems, , , ,

DEFENDING A 2 vs 1 OFF THE RUSH

The D must create good gap control as soon as the play is identified as 2 vs 1 to limit the attacker’s options and slow down the attack. The fewer passes the attackers are allowed to make the easier it is for the goalie as it cuts down on the need for re-positioning.
The D’s initial positioning is between the attackers initially with one hand on the
stick and stick extended from the body.
The D must keep their head on a swivel to check the positioning of the player off the puck.
The stick can be used to push the puck carrier wider or lure him into
making a pass before he’s ready.
As play progresses below the tops of the circles, the stick should be pointed a bit more toward the puck carrier than directly in front of the body to cut down on
the space between stick and skates that attacker could use to pass the puck.
The defender should shade slightly toward the player without the puck. The D cannot allow a pass to get through once the puck is below the tops of the circles
If play continues below the dots, the D uses two hands on the stick to react on attempted passes. The D’s body positioning should be at a 45 degree angle to help in denying a pass.
At this point, the player with the puck will be forced to shoot. The D maintains two hands on the stick and is prepared to react to any rebound
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Courtesy of Drills etc.

Filed under: Defense, Defense, Defensemen

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