When and How to Go 1v1 In Hockey

A successful 1v1 in the NHL has below a 10% success rate. Those are poor odds.

In the past, we’ve discussed the 1v1 vs the 2v2 in terms of driving player development. In this post, we are diving deeper into the elements we alluded to in that post.

When to go 1v1

There are two key elements when deciding if a 1v1 is in the offensive player’s favor. If you have these, you’ll win more 1v1s:

1. Have a speed differential

We have talked about speed differentials in the past. If the attacking player can create a differential between their speed and that of the defender, the defender is often limited in their ability to quash the play. Here, Johnny Gaudreau catches Zach Werenski by attacking with speed. He also adds in the next element on our list, which is…

Johnny Gaudreau Hockey Defender intercepts the puck from Zach Werenski by attacking with speed and beating his stick.

2. Beating the defender’s stick

Often players should be looking to effectively “hide” the puck within the defender’s triangle (space between their toe caps & blade of their stick). Here is an example of Nazem Kadri hiding the puck in the defender’s triangle:

Nazem Kadri aggressively scores a point by concealing point puck inside of the defender's triangle

Here is another example from Connor McDavid:

Conor McDavid with expert control over hockey puck and conceals puck to score skillfully.

And one more from Clayton Keller

Clayton Keller having possession of the puck and tricking defenders with great control

From the Defender’s Perspective

On the flip side, if you’re a defender, showing/declaring your stick early is usually a poor idea, as the offensive players can now work around it. Plus if one-handed, it’s a weak obstacle that the attacker can often push through, like J.T. Miller shows us below:

J.T. Miller showing how to exploit a defender showing their stick too early. He takes advantage of this mistake.

Another angle:

Defender Nick Lidstorm uses his Hockey Stick with a strategic angle. He keeps his hidden stick close to his hips, scoring aggressively. Defender Nick Lidstorm uses his Hockey Stick with a strategic angle. He keeps his hidden stick close to his hips, scoring aggressively.

Now take a look at Hall-Of-Fame Defenseman Nick Lidstrom used his stick. Angling well, hidden stick on his hips, and then attacking with aggression.

Pre-Touch Conditions, What’s Really Important

While many top players can use a 1v1 to great effect at younger ages, as they go up the hockey pyramid, they find their 1v1 success rate plummeting.

As players age and learn to play at higher levels, one of the most important things to realize is that it’s critical to create conditions where you can bend the 1v1 situation to your favor.

Players who develop the forethought to create the advantage before the 1v1 happens are the ones who will be most successful and are set up to have continued future success.


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.

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!

Related to Buy