The First Move Is For The Defender; The Second Move Is For You

The Kansas City Shuffle

We can all learn a thing from the 2006 movie thriller Lucky Number Slevin. In this specific case, we can learn about the Kansas City Shuffle... The premise is simple, “they look right, and you … look left”

  • Show the defender one direction

  • They commit and look away

  • You go the other way

Let’s check out the KC Shuffle in practice.

Soccer Example

Frame #1 - Movement For The Defender

The defender in the box is directly facing eventual goal-scorerErling Haaland. As such, the defender is able to see and react to what Haaland is doing.

  • Red triangle = where the defender is looking

  • Yellow = Defender movement

  • Blue = Attacker movement

 Add studying defender movement to your hockey off ice training schedule.

Frame #2 - Movement For You

But once the defender looks away and commits to defending the attacker’s initial move, that’s when the attacker makes their actual desired move.

 Studying defender movement is a key skill to pair with your good exercises off ice.

Frame #3 - Space Created

In the black shaded box, this is the space available to the attacking team. If they had moved into that space early, that space would have been closed and unavailable. The green “x” is where the shot comes from.

 When training with stick handling aids, be sure to practice avoiding defender movements.

Here is the goal at real speed:

 Learning your defender is how to practice hockey at home.


Hockey Example #1 - Activating Defenseman

Let’s take a look at how the same concept applies in hockey:

 Add this understanding of defender movement to your off ice hockey workout program.

Frame #1 - Movement for the Defender

On the goal, we see the defender open their body orientation to better see the Blackhawks’ Wyatt Kalynuk (#48). The defender stops up so he is able to cover the space his check is theoretically heading towards.

 Learning how to dribble a hockey puck and defender understanding defender movement is key.

Frame #2 - Movement for you

As soon as the defender looks back towards the puck, the attacking/activating defenseman changes direction and attacks the open space at the net.

 Go to the nearest hockey gym and study how defenders move.

And watching the goal again:

Studying movement is great for hockey players at home. 

Hockey Example #2 - Winger breakout

This is a subtle example where the defender’s focus is on stopping the first movement. The winger is one step ahead and can create space with their thoughtful assertiveness.

Frame 1 - Movement for the Defender

We see the strong-side (puck side) winger leaving early and pushing back the defender.

 Add studying defender movement to your hockey off ice training plan.

The winger looks up to scan and notices the opponent closing his space.

Watching film is beneficial to your off ice puck skills with understanding defender movements. 

The winger skates up ice to threaten the space behind the opponent. This pushes the opponent back to cover the threat.

Frame 2 - Movement for You

The strong side winger stops as the pass is made. The opponent defending him left the screen! Look at all the space to make the next play.

Add studying defender movement to your hockey off ice training schedule.

The full sequence:

Add studying defender movement to your hockey off ice training schedule.  

Remember, when looking to create and save space for future use… do a KC Shuffle!


Author, Greg Revak coaches with the University of Akron and University School (Ohio). He is a writer for and contributor to Deke University.

When not at the rink, Greg can be found breaking down videos and writing about player development on twitter @CoachRevak. Use Greg's Code: HOCKEYIQ for $25 off your purchase of a SuperDeker!

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