One topic we haven’t covered a lot here on How To Hockey is defense. I’ve been getting requests for a few years for more info for playing defense, so I have put together a 4 video series all about playing defense!
These videos are not JUST for defensemen. As a coach, I have a simple rule, when the other team has the puck our entire team is playing defense. The tips in these videos will help forwards and defensemen improve their skills, get scored against less, and end up with the puck more often!
3 Universal Defensive tips
In this video we share 3 tips that will help anyone improve their defense. These are simple pieces of advice most players would hear from their coaches.
- Stay between the guy with the puck, and the net
- Watch the chest not the puck
- Hide the poke check
Using the Markings
This video contains all kinds of tips that seem so easy, but are not discussed much in hockey. By using the markings on the ice you can easily check your position and improve your defensive game
Playing 1 on 1 in open ice
Defensemen and forwards will both get caught in this situation. Getting beat on a 1 on 1 can be embarrassing but if you watch this video and practice enough, you should barely ever get beat in a 1 on 1. Some tips include
- Giving the opponent the outside
- Match their speed
- Gap control
1 on 1 along the boards
When your opponent has the puck along the boards you have a whole new set of rules. For instance in the video above I recommend having the stick in front of you, or using it to steer the player to open ice. In this video I encourage players to use “stick on puck” which means always having your stick lined up with the puck which helps block passes and shots. Here are some quick tips
- Stick on puck, body on body
- Know when to contain, and when to pressure
- Angle the opponent for better results
Some final tips for playing defense from the pro’s
Whenever I read coaching books I collect bits and pieces. Here is a collection of defensive tips I have collected from a few coaching books
Good defence starts with learning the fundamentals. First it’s learning to play without the puck. It’s learning to play your angles, to position yourself on the inside, to be able to put or move the attack where you want it to come, to play outnumbered, and to protect the goaltender.
The single most important lesson that any defender can learn is that he doesn’t need to have the puck to dictate what will happen. Learn how to invite the puck carrier to do what you want. Soon [the puck] will be on your stick.
On playing against guys bigger than him – Don’t give up space in the neutral zone. Big guys need space to get speed, give them space in the corners. Dont run them give them a yard and a half then take it away. If you can’t move the stick, take the stick away.
Coaches note – That means lifting their stick, play the stick, then body, then puck
Gary’s ABC’s of good defence
- Play good angles
- Maintain good position
- Know who is on the ice
Defence – on the bench watch other players, what the forwards are doing and what you would do in those situations
Keys to defence
Most of these tips are from Simply the Best a great book that includes interviews with some of the best coaches hockey has ever seen.