Improve your 1 on 1 Defense – 4 video series

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.

  1. Stay between the guy with the puck, and the net
  2. Watch the chest not the puck
  3. 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

  1. Giving the opponent the outside
  2. Match their speed
  3. 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

  1. Stick on puck, body on body
  2. Know when to contain, and when to pressure
  3. 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

Pat Quinn

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.

Ken Hitchcock

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.

Gary galley

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

Ed jovanoski

Keys to defence

  • position
  • patience
  • poise

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.

Pass the Puck
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Coach Jeremy
Hi my name is Jeremy Rupke. My goal is to break every hockey skill down into easy to understand articles and videos. I explain everything step-by-step to help others improve. I'm active on Instagram, Facebook and more, you can follow through the links above.
If you want to learn more about me you can read my about page. Thanks for reading and sharing!

  1. Reply Dan April 10, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Hi Jeremy,

    I have a problem keeping the puck in the offensive zone on the boards. I try using my skate, my stick and for the life of me, I either am off on my timing the puck goes by or it deflects off of me and goes out of the zone. As a defenseman, I feel like a major failure, especially when my team is depending on me to keep the play going. What can I do to work on this ? Is it an eye/hand coordination thing ?

  2. Reply Donny February 11, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    As your opponent is coming down on you you may need to switch to forward skating shoulder to shoulder to prevent a skater getting around you ?

  3. Reply Pete February 11, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    Hi Jeremy,
    I’ve been playing about a year and got bundled into defence at my rec team. One of the biggest problems I, and I know some of the other guys have, is maintaining the gap to the attacking player appropriately. This means we either leave too big a gap in the neutral zone, or end up being simple skated past around the blue line. Obviously, I’m aware it’s a skating issue, but do you have any tips for developing speed on the backwards skate to maintain that gap appropriately?

    • Reply Reid February 25, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      i have been playing hockey my whole life and defense is my main position. The gap is very important to consider when playing proper defense. If you want to maintain the gap appropriately I think you should first make a judgement call and decide whether the skater with the puck is a fast skater or slow skater. If he is slow, then you have nothing to worry about. If he is fast I would personally widen the gap until just before the hash marks and then try to close the gap before he can make that shot.

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