Many players, young and old, struggle to play solid defensive hockey. Today, we’re taking a quick look at two common errors that players make and offering solutions for how to address them.
1) Puck Watching
Puck watching is the concept where defensive players have their eyes and mind fixated on the puck. A player’s attention is on the puck, not their specific defensive assignment.
While it is important to know where the puck is and what is happening with it, defenders also need to understand where their opponents are, whether through visual or touch verification.
Puck watching often leads to the puck seemingly having its own gravitational force that sucks players toward it. Watch #24 in white, the weak-side defensive winger.
2) Curling instead of Stop/Starting
We’ve written a lot in this space about offensive routes but little on defensive routes. Routes are a massive part of playing great hockey. A poor route in the defensive zone is a curl away from your check. Watch #72 white take a loop at the top of his route instead of stopping and changing directions with a burst.
Hockey coaches consistently preach stops/starts in the defensive zone. Why? Because a small curl opens up lanes and angles for the offensive team! It’s even worse when it takes you away from your defensive assignment.
What are some key fixes to help solve the most common defensive issues?
- Continually scan for threats
- Focus on stops/starts to keep proper positioning
- Remain patient to stay positionally sound
- Attach to pass receiving threats
Author, Greg Revak coaches with the University of Akron and University School (Ohio). He is a writer for Hockeyarsenal.com and contributor to Deke University.