Defensemens Guide to the Pinch

when to pinch in hockey

by Ken on December 9, 2010

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!

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Ken

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

JD Vaites October 14, 2013 at 10:54 am

Thanks for the article. My mens league team has been getting on me about over pinching. There is some good advice in this article!

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JB August 31, 2011 at 12:55 pm

More defenseman articles, please! My 8 year old squirt loves them. He is just starting out in travel hockey, and he is very excited about this website.

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Grant May 24, 2011 at 10:51 pm

I love the pinch, especially if the rest of the team (opposing) is out of place. I have always noticed that if you catch the player close to the blue line, as they are leaving their defensive zone, they are looking for the pass or where there team is. keep an eye on their eyes and strike when they are not looking. It also helps if they are taking a run up the boards. This seems to take away the confidence of “space”, which in most cases (mens league) the person breaking out the puck will take a fight or flight. Forcing this quick though will give you your window of victory.

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Aaron March 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm

I’m not a d-man (plus I’m a beginner), so I have no real experience with pinching, but it seems like you should only focus on taking the puck, and take the player with it if you can. If you only take the player, couldn’t s/he still chip the puck past you and one of his/her linemates pick up the puck for a 2 on 1 on your D partner?

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Justin April 23, 2012 at 9:30 am

From my experience on D that is very dangerous thinking. The puck can be movedso quickly that it is rare you can stop it, but playing the opposing body is much easier. Its bigger and slower than the puck, and if you hold it up, they cannot score. Even if they do chip it past you, you have succesfully taken one man out of the play. Once you get good enough you can force them to chip it and get the puck before it reaches the other player.

Paul May 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm

You would only focus on the puck if you are definitely going to be the first one there, but forwards can sometimes make up the distance faster than you think they will so you have to be prepared to change strategy during the move. If you are in a 50/50 chance then forget the puck and focus your eyes on the body so the forward does not get past you. If you aren’t fast enough in, then taking the man may screw up his chances of moving the puck anywhere useful.
If your partner is a smart enough D, he’ll have watched you going in and will have drifted closer to the middle of the ice, that way he should still be the closest to the puck if that damn forward still managed to tip it past you.
Course if you screw up a pinch, you better motor back up the ice because your error just opened up the game for your opponents, but you can probably get back to catch the forward on the other side of the ice.

Ben January 20, 2011 at 2:30 am

Great info on the pinch…It’s a simple concept yet a lot of defenseman have trouble doing it properly. Like you mentioned, its a GO or NO GO situation, never in between.

Keep up the good posts!

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liam January 18, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Can you do an article on how to check

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