Browsing All Posts By Ken

How to Skate (for Hockey Players)

how-to-skate-hockeysquare

I am happy to present our newest video series that will teach you how to skate. These videos are specifically for hockey players. Hockey players will skate differently than figure skaters and public skaters. In hockey we want speed, power and agility. I will be posting new videos every week until the series is finished.

Learn to Skate Playlist 10 Videos

For a detailed article and a quick beginner video you can read our previously published post below

How to Ice Skate

To be a great hockey player you first have to learn to be a great skater, this article will give you the building blocks necessary to become an amazing skater.

When you are first learning to skate it seems like a very daunting task, you are given two shoes with blades attached to them and asked to go onto a surface of ice, like it is no big deal. A lot of the trouble with learning how to skate is to get over the emotional and mental barriers first. Don’t feel embarrassed to use a chair or any other tool. In fact using a chair or pylon is the best way to learn to skate as it will allow you to gradually add weight to your skates and feel more comfortable.  After learning to push off with your skates, then you just need to learn muscle memory and practice a lot.

When you lace up those skates for the first time practice standing on them in the dressing room. Get used to the feel of the blades and the way it will affect your balance.  Also practice using each edge of your blade. Remember when your skates are flat, you are standing on two edges.

Skate blade on icePractice leaning your skates so you are only on one of the edges, inside or outside. Now practice leaining on both of your inside edges and both your outside edges.

Remember these key positions as they will be needed later.

Now for stepping on the ice there are a few key points you must remember:

Stay low: I have seen it a 1000 times at rinks new skaters out on the ice standing like pencils and falling like dominoes. Make sure you have your knees bent and your skates shoulder width apart. This positon is known in a majority of sports as the ready position, it allows  you to greatly improve your  balance and it loads  muscles  which allows for better reaction times.

Know your edges: When you first step on the ice you should use the ready position. If you do this you will feel weight on your legs that will want to push your legs apart. This may feel like you are about to do the splits, to stop this you must use your edges. If you have practiced moving from edge to edge off the ice as I have stated before it should not be to hard to do. Stay low and lean your skates to their inside edges. When you feel them digging in start applying more weight, this will be hard the first few times as your body will be telling you the opposite. Trust your skates, the edges will stop your legs from splitting.

Never give up: No matter how many times you fall you have to get back up and go again, mental barriers are half the obstacle but are never talked about. You have to be ready to get a few bruises if you want to improve yourself. So don’t give up on learning, and do not give up on yourself. A desire to learn and self confidence will be the greatest tools you can have when learning something new.

I find many people learn easier by seeing, rather than reading. We have put together this video that should help you learn how to ice skate. Watch this video, it will give you all these tips and hopefully make the learning process  a whole lot easier

How to Skate like a hockey player

Hockey players skate differently than speed skaters and figure skaters. With hockey the most important aspect is explosive power. Right now we will just focus on the fundamentals of skating.

Step 1 – Bend the knees and get low – Your power and speed comes from your legs, and you can’t get much power if you don’t bend your knees first. A good hockey player will have their butt dropped as if they are about to sit in a chair. Remember to keep your head and chest up to remain balanced.

Step 2 – Push out with one leg, while gliding on the other leg – When you are pushing start by pushing back at a 45 degree angle. If you push straight back you will not get very much power because you will be “running on the ice”. In order to get speed and power from your push you need to dig in with your edges and to do this you need to push at at least a 45 degree angle.

Step 3 – Recover and repeat on the other side – After finishing your push, get your leg back under your body and then push with the other leg. Repeat this motion over and over and you are skating!

Quick tips

  • Remember to stay low and maintain a good knee bend
  • Do not bob up and down, many beginner players get in the habit of standing up while pushing. You need to stay low to get full power from each push
  • Remember to keep your glide leg bent as well, this keeps it prepared to push when the other leg recovers

Next you will want to learn how to stop

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments just leave them in the comment section  below.

READ MORE +

Defensemens Guide to the Pinch

when to pinch in hockey

Thanks to Ken for this great post about how to pinch, a great read for any Defensemen! – Jeremy

Sorry for the hiatus everyone summer is a busy time but now its hockey season again and time for some more articles.

This article will be dealing with a Russian roulette of defense, the pinch. When a defense men pinches it can either create a great scoring opportunity or create a dangerous 2 or sometimes 3 on 1 coming back to their own end. For those that are new to the sport pinching is the act of holding or advancing off the opposing players blue line while your team is in their end. This “pinch” gives your team a quick and sometimes decisive advantage in the  the attacking end.

pinch in hockey

When to do a pinch

People think that pinching is a 50/50 chance. In reality it is more like 70/30 if you follow a few key points.

The Score: If your team is up by 2 or three goals it is not advisable to pinch, as it may create a dangerous situation. 2 goal leads are the scariest to  have and maintain. As a defensemen you should shut down the other team and hold the lead. On the flip side if you are losing by 2 then pinching may be in your best interest to give your team the boost it needs to get back in the game.

Your line: It’s an honest truth from pee wee to the pros that teams always have a 1st, 2nd and 3rd line. If you are a defensemen and you are out with the first line then pinching can be done with more confidence then if you’re out with your third line. Vice versa if you are playing against the top line of the opposing team you should think about holding back  more then if your playing against the third line.

Your partner: If you and your partner play great together and read off each other then you can feel  more confident in pinching, the minute I see my defensive partner head down to try to stop a break out I back out of the end and head for the middle of the ice. Knowing that your partner will have you covered will boost your confidence.

When Not to Pinch

Here is a quick list for you to consider before pinching, remember if the pinch does not work you will look be embarrassed!

  • Think twice about pinching if:hockey pinching
    • Your partner is not a strong defencemen
    • Your other team mates are out of position
    • Your team does not have a dominant lead
    • The other team is also important, if you are playing a strong team, or against a strong line then think twice about pinching. If you are playing a bunch of scrubs than pinch your heart out!

How to pinch

The key on pinching is to make sure you do one of two things, take the player or take the puck. If you do not accomplish either of these tasks you put your team at a huge risk as now the breakout is 3 on 1 instead of 3 on 2. The goal of the pinch is to keep the puck in the offensive end and to create an advantage for your team.

When committing to a pinch you must give it 110%, If you hesitate you fail. I hope this has helped you improve your offensive work and make sure to check back soon, we have one on one and how to deke videos in the pipe and ready to roll.

Special thanks to the Chinese Taipei Ice Hockey League for the pictures!

READ MORE +

Hockey – The Mental game

Hockey players cheerig

Wayne Gretzky is known as one of the greatest hockey players of all time, not only for his incredible skill, but also because of his Hockey IQ. Some people refer to hockey as chess on ice and to quote Lowell Cohn – “Some guys play hockey. Gretzky plays 40 mph chess.” A great hockey player should be able to read a play, and know not only where everyone IS on the ice, but also where every player WILL BE on the ice. This is hockey IQ

This  article is going to deal with the mental side of hockey that Gretzky knew so well.  I believe that hockey is at least 60 percent mental. This means not just being able to put your head on a swivel, it means being able to read plays, understand the ice and the rink and be able to react instantly to any situation that might arise.

Pre-Game warm up

Mental game in Hockey
Developing your mental skills doesn’t require you to be on the ice, near a hockey rink or even have equipment on. It is a proven fact that if you are confident and believe you can do something your chances of completing that task will rise astronomically. Before games I used to take ten minutes in the dressing room, throw my towel over my head and just sit there and imagine. I wouldn’t dream about girls or cars I would see myself on the ice taking and giving the perfect passes, stopping every player who came near me, and even scoring a few goals. This gave me a great boost of confidence on the ice and freed up my mind to focus on the game. If you have the slightest worry that you are going to be beaten it can be the difference between a great play or a huge disappointment. If you do this for a few minutes before practice and games I guarantee you will improve your overall game.

On the Ice

Defense HockeyBeing able to read the plays on the ice and react accordingly is one of the single most important assets to a hockey player. You could be the best skater in the world but if you do not understand how to get open for a pass or make that perfect play you are useless.

A great example of how mental training can help is on two on ones. Before the game I envision stopping any two on one. When it happens I am already prepared to stop two on ones. In my mind, I know I am going to stop it and I start looking ahead to what I am going to do with the puck after I stop the play. This confidence greatly increases my chances of stopping the play.

The same works on any situation on the ice. Just remember that if they do beat you, don’t get discouraged. When you are on the bench play out what happened in your head and try to see what you did wrong, and how you can improve. Then imagine how you could have made the play. Hockey is not only about training your muscles, but also about training your brain!

Another mental aspect of the game is emotion. Your emotions are one of your great strengths but also can be your biggest weakness. Keeping your emotions in check is a necessity for any hockey player.  A good example is when your team is on a penalty kill. If a player hacks your goalie and the ref does not see it, as a defensemen you have been trained to take that guy out. Say you let your  emotions get the best of you and cross check or slash this player, now the ref sees you do this and calls another penalty and your team is down another player.  I did this in provincials and though no goal was scored I got an earful from the coach.

Think of it this way, when you are on the ice, you are supposed to do things you learned in practice. Shoot, pass, stop players and throw body checks. If you are thinking of doing something that you did not learn in practice (slash, trip, crosscheck) then think for a second how it might effect your team. Coaches hate selfish players, so think about your team first, and your pride / ego second.

Feel the energy

Hockey players cheerigPhoto Credit: Jennifer Bock

A good hockey player will be able to read their teams emotions and help change them. If your team is down, you will be able to feel it on the bench. Go out on the ice and give it 200 percent, skate hard and try to make some huge hits. If you have a good shift then get back on the bench and get amped about the shift, also try to get your team hyped up. You will see a change almost instantly on your bench. It only takes one amazing hit, goal or play to completely change the game. You have the power to change the outcome of a game.

I hope this helps you understand the mental plays in the game.  If you can take anything from this article it is to use your head before, during and after the game.

Photo Credit – Warm up:  Colder Than Ice – Defense: Mike Seliske – Chess: Mohammad

READ MORE +

When the Ice Melts, Play Street Hockey

icicle

While a number of sports provide excellent cross-training for hockey during the off-season, hardcore players won’t be willing to give up their favorite game just because of the melting ice.  For those who find traveling to the local rink may inconvenient or costly, street hockey can be a great way to continue development when temperature rises.  Street hockey can also be a way to introduce a friend to the game of hockey before committing to purchasing a bag full of equipment.  If you think you might want to get started, read on.

Location

When selecting a location, choose an enclosed area with a smooth surface.  Tennis courts and basketball courts surrounded by a chain link cage are ideal because the puck or ball will stay contained. Parking lots can work, but unless they have some kind of border, participants might find themselves retrieving the ball more often than they like.

Puck or Ball?

If the surface is smooth enough, a puck will work fine. The IDS pucks with eight small plastic pads on each side are my personal favorite and Franklin makes a decent look alike. They come in a variety of colors so try to choose one that contrasts your surface well.

Where a puck is not an option a ball may be substituted in its place. The advantage to using a ball is that it will be easy to move around on rougher surfaces, keeping the game fast-based. However, a ball landing on the cement will bounce whereas a puck will absorb most of the shock when hitting the ice. To reduce the rebound, manufactures produce hockey balls varying in hardness. A softer ball will perform better when it’s cold outside because the temperature causes it to contract slightly. Play with that same ball in the heat and it will expand, causing it to feel almost like wad of used tape.  Balls are usually color coded to aid your quest in selecting the right one, so be sure choose a hockey ball with the correct temperature rating.

Skates

2009_06_Escape_Studios_Maya_Core_Student_Roller_Blade_Alvaro_MartinezBefore you run out and buy a nice pair of inline hockey skates, you might want to try looking at your local secondhand store for a cheap pair. Often times a high end pair of roller hockey skates will come with soft wheels meant for an indoor surface. If you have to buy new wheels anyway, you might as well just pickup the skates for the lowest price you can. When looking at a used pair try to find ones that will accommodate a wheel size no smaller than 76mm. Aggressive skates, for example, usually have small, hard wheels that make cornering difficult and are inefficient for speed.  Skates specifically made for hockey are best because they usually allow some flex in the ankle for increased maneuverability but if you find a pair of recreation skates in fair condition, go for it!

Sticks

Whatever you do, don’t spend more than $50 on a stick.  The best sticks for street hockey are the old two piece aluminums. They are practically bullet proof, so you will get a lot of life out of them.  Because they are cheap they won’t flex like a graphite composite will, but if you’re playing with a ball this is inconsequential. The concrete or asphalt will grind your stick blade away much faster than the ice will, requiring more frequent replacing of blades. Since blades are often cheaper than buying an entire stick, the two piece can save you cash in the long run.  However, some wooden sticks are very affordable and might prove to be a good option.

Goals

The quality of the goal really depends on how much you want to spend.  Two shoes laying about five feet apart can serve as goals if you don’t have anything better. Orange cones would be a step up from shoes, but still won’t stop a puck once it crosses the line. Garbage cans or recycling bins can often serve as makeshift goals and are usually accessible if playing in an empty lot or at a park.  Although recovering a puck or ball out of the trash may not be pleasant, at least you won’t have to chase it down.  Another option is to make your own goals out of PVC. These can be custom made to just about any dimension you want, depending on goalie availability and skill level. If this is something you want to pursue check out this hockey goal diagram.

Equipment

You won’t need all the same padding you have when you’re on the ice, but some protection is probably a good idea. A cup, gloves, and shinguards are almost a must, and a helmet, elbow pads, and mouthguard are probably a good idea too. If you decide to wear elbow pads try to find ones with a plastic outer shell because the ground will chew up ones with a cloth exterior.

Keegan is the Editor of SchoolyardPuck.com

READ MORE +

How to Take a Slapshot

Slapshot tips

How to Take a Slapshot

Slap shots are very easy to learn yet hard to master. A lot of people feel that blasting a puck as hard as humanly possible qualifies as a great shot. Slap shots are just as much about accuracy as they are about power.

In this article we have two videos, this first video breaks down the mechanics of the slapshot, and in the video at the bottom of this article we share some slapshot tips on the ice.

Slapshot Key points

When taking a slapshot their are some key points to remember:

  • Weight transfer – Just like other shots in hockey weight transfer plays a huge roll in the slap shot. You must move all your weight from your back leg to your front leg in one fluent motion. The idea is to shift your weight in the direction of the shot. This puts more energy, and power into your slap shot.
  • Accuracy over Power – It is better to be accurate then to shoot the puck at 100mph, you will never score a goal if you can not hit the net! I once played with a defensemen who had a bullet of a shot, the problem was that his shot would be all over the map. The perfect slap shot for a defensemen is 10 to 12 inches off the ice. Taking low shots makes it easier for your defensemen to screen, or tip the shot in. By keeping your shots low and accurate, your forwards will be more confident stand in front of the net, tip in your shots, or crank in the rebounds.
  • Stay low and Load the Stick – Many players who are learning to take a slapshot try to hit the puck, this is not the proper way to take a slapshot. When taking a slap shot you should be contacting the ice first. You should hit the ice 3 to 5 inches behind the puck (or more depending on the stick, the shot, and how strong you are) this allows you to load or flex the stick first ( like in those fancy pictures you see of NHL players bending their sticks almost in half or the one in this article). Loading the stick like this is where a lot of the power in your slapshot comes from. When lining up the puck put it about two – three feet in front of you and about 2 inches behind your front skate (see picture). When taking the shot you want the blade of the stick to contact the ice a few feet out, and in the middle of your stance, this gives your stick time to flex, when the blade hits the puck it should flex even more . Also remember to stay low and trust your stick, you need to throw most of your weight (the more the better) onto your stick. This will allow you to increase the power on your shot without the huge windups.
  • Location of Puck for Slapshot – For a slapshot you want the puck to hit the blade of your stick close to the middle, between the heel and middle of the blade is where you get the most power. With a slapshot the puck spends very little time on the blade of the stick. You want to hit the ice, load the stick, hit the puck, and then launch it (remeber follow through, and weight transfer)
  • Follow through – A very simple rule and tip for slapshot accuracy is follow through low and your shot will stay low and if you follow through and aim your stick high your shot will go high.

 

The process of taking a Slapshot

Your bottom hand should be about half way down the stick or more. Line the puck a few feet in front of you and 2-3 inches behind your front foot. Keep your legs at shoulder width and bend your knees.

See the postion of the puck and skates. Skates are shoulder width apart, and the puck is 3 inches behind my front foot and a few feet in front.

Now line your shot up, do not shoot hard off the start, practice connecting the ice first and getting a feel for your stick flexing. Start putting more and more weight onto your stick as you progress. When you feel comfortable, start increasing both the speed and strength of your shot. Another tip is to aim your skates where you want the puck to go, a great trick is once you have released the puck turn your front skate to the area you are aiming at.

This is a perfect example of a loaded stick and shows how much extra power you can add to your shot by utilizing your stick

Remember to watch your follow through and always see where the puck goes. Everyone is different and dialing in your shot is always a personal preference.

See the follow through, I was aiming top corner and thats where my stick and eyes ended up, at the end of your follow through it should look like you are looking down a rifle.

How To Take a Slapshot Video

If you like this video you can subscribe to our channel on Youtube

Now you feel comfortable taking a slap shot and it is time to work on accuracy and muscle memory (muscle memory is built through repetition). The key to a great slap shot is accuracy and the best way to build it is through trial and error. Set up as many pucks as you can find. Get a bucket or some sort of a target and set it up about 20 feet away. Now start taking shot after shot after shot, don’t rush your shots, set up and prepare on each one. Once you start hitting 5 or 6 pucks in a row at your target, stop. Now go for a skate/ do a lap or practice your wrist shot. Now go back and start hitting them again. Keep repeating this process. This will condition your body that no matter what you were doing when you wind up for a slapshot it will be ready to give you the perfect shot everytime.

Slapshot Tips

Thanks to the guys at hfboards.com and the OMHA forum for some tips on improving your slapshot. Many of these tips are from older rec players who are trying to improve their slapshots, coaches and even new players trying to learn how to take a slapshot. Here are some quick slapshot pointers to remember

  • Rotate Your Hips and Trunk
    • This is a good way to add power to your shot, As you wind up the slapshot, your hips and shoulders should be in a line to the target. As you come down, make contact, and follow through, your hips and shoulders should open up to the target (see picture above), adding a rotational force to the shot.
  • Try different stick heights and weights
    • Sometimes using a ligther stick, shorter or longer stick, or a stick with less, or more flex may make a difference in your shot. Try some different sticks out and try to find one that works the best for you.
  • Lead With your Bottom Hand
    • Here is a quote from the HFboards “One of the things i noticed that helped was getting low to the ice, dropping your lower hand down the shaft maybe a foot or so (note: Your hand should be halfway down the shaft or more), and really keeping that arm straight and pushing down and forward with it.”
    • Try leading with your bottom hand, really leaning into your stick and pushing the puck forwards.
  • Look at the Net when Shooting
    • Even if your shot is not that great you will score more, How many times do you see a hockey player just shoot blindly and hit the goalie in the crest and then wonder why that happened? Look, aim, and shoot

Slapshot Tips for Defense Video

How to Get More Power from Your Slapshot

Here are a few more articles (and videos) to help you progress on your slapshot

  • How to improve slapshot power and technique
    • Last summer I did a slapshot challenge and was able to improve my slapshot power by 20 MPH! In this article and video I share some tips that really helped
  • how to improve slapshot accuracy
    • What good is a powerful shot if you put it 5 feet wide every time, or can’t control where it is going. I show you a bunch of tips for controlling your x and y axis
  • Slapshot Tips
    • This article and video goes over some of the common mistakes that people make when trying to learn the slapshot. Watching the video and reading the tips should help you avoid cheating, and help you get the most power from your slapshot
READ MORE +

Defense: Improve your two on One skills

Defensive Orientation – Two on Ones

When dealing with a 2 on 1 a defensemen must remember several key points.

  • Your goalies skill and preference
    • As a player you should know your goalies ability. If your goalie is confident and easily stops shots coming from an angle, this will help you know how to play to 2 on 1 . You should work with your goaltender by watching and talking with them to form a good relationship with them. Remember the goalie is your best friend.
  •  Hand of the player coming down on you
    •  If you have a 2 on 1 then chances are you will have a few seconds to take a breath and prepare. Always watch what hand (which way they shoot) the two players are that are coming down on you- if a right handed players is coming on the left side he will be trying to cut in or make a pass 90 percent of the time. Vice versa if a right handed is coming in on his forehand then there is a lower probability for a pass. And if a pass comes it will be crisp and off the ice.
  • Always keep yourself between the players and never commit early
    • The biggest mistake a defensemen can make is to commit to a 2 on 1 at the blue line or even top of the circle. You have to draw the opposing players as close as you can before attempting any play. If the offensive players get a shot from above  the hash marks they have a better chance to score. You want to try to make them play or shoot within 8 feet of the net. This creates a sense of panic and urgency in both the passing plays and the shooting, usually causing more mistakes.

Now to deal with most two on ones…

The main focus will be the most common two on one. A break out by the other team and a messy pinch by your defensive partner, this leaves you in the middle of the ice at the red line facing a breaking winger and center. At this point you must take several seconds and assess the players coming down. Check which way they shoot, an easy way is to use your peripherals. You will have a few seconds before the offensive players start to connect so do a quick glance at the player without the puck. Do this carefully and quickly as it only takes a few seconds for a good forward to notice and they will blitz by you or pass it off. Keep yourself between the two players and keep your attention on the puck carrier use quick glances and your peripherals to always have a eye on the person without the puck but make sure to focus on the puck carrier.

Now this is where we branch off.  Some coaches will teach you to take the person without the puck every time and allow your goalie to take the shot this effectively gives them a breakaway if done improperly, but if executed perfectly it creates an easy away to dissolve any two on one.
When doing this it is important to remember the key points. NEVER do it to early and know which way the offensive player shoots. If a right winger is coming down on the left side he will try to get a pass or attempt to stay as far out as he can to get a better angle for a shot.. This is because his shot angles are greatly reduced if he is not hugging the boards. Use this to your advantage the farther out he goes the greater the distance for a pass. Start pressing him to stay out near the boards until you are 10 to 15ft form the net then you take the passer and if your goalie is properly positioned scoring from that angle will be difficult.

Another way and one I always will recommend is to stay between the players till the end. You will see a demonstration in the video sections and I recommend watching it before proceeding. This is extremely difficult as you must have a high hand eye coordination as well as the ability to use your feet but if you can do it properly it is a great tool.
This play only works if you believe a pass will be coming. Stay between the two players as you normally would now at the 15ft mark drop to a knee keeping you stick about an inch above the ice and cutting off almost the entire passing area. This is where it gets tricky and sounds silly. Make sure you leave your back leg that is on the ice tucked in ever so slightly; this will leave what looks like an easy passing lane. Most forwards will take the bait as they will want to make it look pretty.
Now that the trap is set you only have to close it. As your leg is dropped and you are heading to the net start angling towards the puck carrier this will increase the likely hood of him using the pass. Now all that’s left is to time your strike. When you see him about to pass stick your back leg out and use a sweeping motion. This will stop any puck up to 5 inches off the ice and if done properly will cause the puck to be completely removed from harms way. Another neat part of this is that if the passer cuts in and the puck carrier tries to drop a pass back you can attempt to stop the puck with you stick and if that doesn’t work you are in perfect position to sprawl down and go for a block shot. Now it sounds like a lot but once you get the perfect angles you will love it.

Also this play can be preformed skating forwards. If you had to pivot to keep up with the offensive rush then simply do the same play, drop the knee and leave the back bass wide open. When the forward bites sweep the leg and close the pass. Just remember this is risky and you should try perfecting it in practice before attempting it in a game.

READ MORE +

Tips and Tricks Every Defensemen Should Know

Hockey tips every defensemen should know

Being a great defensemen isn’t about the hits or the shots its about being the entire package.  When I was on the ice I knew what was going on in both my own players heads and my opponents. I had the tools and I used them all with great success. In this article I will try to show you a few easy skills, and a few difficult skills that can greatly increase your ability to play defense and love of the game.

Defense is typically for the grinders and fighters, guys who want the big hits and the big shots. But there will always be 2 or 3 defensemen on every team who play for the true meaning of the position. The purpose of defense is to stop anything and everything from getting remotely close to the net and to be able to set up and assist their forwards.

Big hits are part of playing defense, however I have seen the following scenario too many times. The defensemen will pinch for the big hit to make everyone cheer only to see a two, and sometimes three on one result immediately afterwards. Big hits are a part of the game and give both the fans and players something to talk about but always remember your main job as a defense. Stop the players, stop the pucks.

Hockey Defense Tips and tricks

DEFENSIVE TIPS

Keep your Head on a swivel

I have always been taught and trained to keep my head on a swivel. This means that when there is a  play going on the offensive end behind the net I am not transfixed I am watching where my players are, and what the defensive team is doing.

Using Your feet in Hockey

Too many players only use the stick as their tools. I consider myself to have three sticks on the ice at all times. You can hold a puck between your feet easier then any stick and they are great tools to stop even the most complex deke. This is one skill you should always master.

Keep your stick on the ice

Don cherry (and Red Green!)  said it so it’s got to be true. In all honesty your stick does no good when it’s not on the ice. It’s like taking the sword away from the night or the guns away from the soldier.

Know Your goalie

A goalie is a defensemen’s best friend and to be the best at your job you need to know their weaknesses and strengths. If your goalie has an amazing glove but and atrocious blocker your going to want to try to keep shots to the glove side and if all possible block any chances for a blocker side shot.

A defensemen must also be talking to their goalies at all times. If they can’t see they’ll tell you, if the see a play being set up make sure they yell at you it will allow you to be one step ahead. Also ask a goalie about the breakouts they are always watching the game and half the time they aren’t in the action and can pick up on certain plays the other team might be trying which will give you a chance to intercept and stop them.

Your defensive partner

Just like the goalie you must know your partner and their style. I remember playing with one defensemen that, for the life of him could not keep a puck in the offensive end. I would always be 5 to six feet off the blue line whenever he got the puck in preparation for a 2 or 3 on 1 and it helped my team more times then I could count. I also remember having a partner that I could rely on completely, he would always make the plays and if I ever got caught he would back me up. This knowledge of the partner’s should always affect how you approach the puck in any situation.

 Keep your eyes on the body

Never allow a forward to mesmerize you with a puck, focus on an x right between their shoulders. If you look at players eyes or at the puck your will be beaten.  Remember to use your peripherals, their great tools to get a quick poke check when the forwards doesn’t expect it

Defensive Tricks

The glass – Here is a neat tip, when I am retrieving a puck from a dump in or on the power play I always look into the glass to see who’s behind me. Ninety percent of the arenas I have been in have a great reflection and you can see your forwards setting up and even their forwards trying to rush you. Doing this allows you to have a advantage and will create a lot of great passing opportunities.

Always Play smart

Here is a well known fact, most forwards don’t enjoy scoring garbage goals. They want the pretty passes and magic plays so that they can talk about them with their friends. Use this to your advantage. A key tool for a defenseman is to be able to give that perfect passing lane to the forwards only to shut it down the minute they try to use it.

I hope you enjoyed this article about defense in hockey. Defensive hockey is very important to learn at any stage in a hockey players life. Practicing alone is not enough to improve your game, you must study the game and learn the proper techniques before you can utilize them on the ice.

READ MORE +