Tips and Tricks Every Defensemen Should Know

by Ken on December 7, 2009

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 successes. In these articles 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 result 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.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael December 22, 2013 at 4:41 am

The hilarious irony, Deke, is that while you were complaining about grammar and spelling, you spelled the word ‘embarrassing’ wrong. Haha

Reply

rob May 4, 2013 at 1:49 pm

You’re reading hockey tips jackass, not an essay from ralph waldo emerson. If you want to critique someones grammar and spelling, then get a job at your local elementary school.

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steve March 29, 2013 at 2:24 pm

i love hockey so much but are all of these drills and tips going to work for me

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prajay August 10, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Hey great article but just one question, what do you do if you’re the defencemen and you’re in a one-on-one situation and the forward is breaking out right down the middle of the ice . How are you are you supposed to cut him off or force him to against the boards and stop him from taking a shot?

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ben July 23, 2012 at 1:38 am

look at the body and when he tries to get around you hip check him or get in his way.. if he shoots get in the way of it and stay close but not too close.. like 5 feet

Juol May 19, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Hi!
congratulations for your page its really cool… I just found it thou, but what I’ve seen has really helped me!
and i have a little question… I play inline hockey in Mexico, and I started playing a forward but because nobody went to the practice just like a line and there was 1 defense and 3 forwards so I always stayed at the back, so I played defense in a tournament and then the coach asked me to be defense, I also play in an ice hockey team in Texas and I play forward there but I feel that I don’t do much so I was wondering if there is like to much difference, because as I read in an other comment I’m not what you could say a big guy, so what do you recommend me and do you have any forward tips like this defense ones?

Reply

Jeremy May 22, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Hi Juol, thanks for your comment
Every position has their own role on the ice. Defencemen generally do the least amount of skating (but the most ice time). The centermen will skate the most, and the wingers are there to dig in the corners, and help with the breakout.
If you like to stop people and pucks play defence
If you like to score and skate a lot play center
If you like to dig in the corners and get rough, pass, skate and score play wing

bill April 23, 2010 at 9:32 pm

nice site its promoting hockey,and pretty good advice keep it up.I’m sure you get lots of everyones advice, add me to the list, when playing a 1 vs 1 a defensemen must focus on the other players mid section or his waist, if you watch between his or hers shoulders you may get head or shoulder faked, the mid waist never moves,it always stays central,go where it goes.Thank-you for your good hockey website.

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Laik March 19, 2010 at 11:24 pm

I’ve only just started playing hockey this year and i want to play defence, is there like a certain size or weight that you should be to be a good defenseman?

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Offense March 20, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Hi Laik, it all depends on what type of defensemen you want to be. If you want to be a powerhouse defensemen who clears people out in front of the net, and intimidates forwards then it helps to be tall strong. 8 of the top 10 defensemen in the NHL right now are 6 feet tall or taller. Tobias Enstrom is 5 feet 10 inches, 180 pounds and has 46 points so far.

The key to being a good defensemen is playing smart hockey. You should always be thinking of where the play is moving to, what the forwards are going to do and where you should be on the ice. The mental game when playing defense is very important so if you can play a good positional game you will be leaps and bounds ahead of other defensemen who have not developed in that area.

Scott March 5, 2010 at 7:39 pm

When going after the Puck go in at and angle. My partner went straight at the boards and go hit hardly from behind :)

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Tara Anderson February 17, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Very helpful, as I am a defence at the moment. I also have a tip for you to consider putting on the website. When another player is coming at you don’t let them to the middle, force them to the outside, as then they will not have as good of shot. Also in the face off ask your goalie if they can see. 75% on the time that I ask that they say they can’t see. So then you move so that they can see the play. What ever you do never let someone get a clear shot at the goalie. Get in their way, take them to the boards, lift there stick and kick the puck away. Never let them have a clear shot at your goalie. Also when your goalie trys to freeze the puck I see many people trying to hack at the puck. Shove them, of lift there stick. Most choaches will be happy if you get a penalty for defending your goalie.

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defense February 17, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Those are great tips Tara! they will actually be included in an upcoming article dealing with angling, checking and overall positioning as a defenseman, thank you for the comment

Robin Eggers January 20, 2011 at 6:12 am

when does that article show up?
I also want to say thanks for those articles!!! I’m 17 years old and about to start playing ice hockey ( i know it’s a bit to late). with out this website i would never even thought about start playing as a defender.

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