Tag: hockey face-off tips

How to Win Faceoffs in Hockey – Face Off Tips


If you are a centermen one of your major responsibilities on the ice is to win face-offs. Some players who are new to the game overlook the importance of this job and approach the face-off dot without much thought, but no matter what level of hockey you play the face-off win is vital for your teams success. A lost face-off could result in a goal for the other team, while a nice clean and well thought out face-off win could lead to the game winning goal. When you think of faceoffs in this manner you begin to understand how important it is to win, hopefully this will get your fired up to win more faceoffs and try some of the tips and tricks I share in the video and article below.

How to Win Face offs Video

NHL’er Wayne Primeau Giving you some tips

I had the opportunity to shoot a quick video with Wayne Primeau, here are a few faceoff tips from a former NHL hockey player.

A step by step guide to winning more face offs

  1. Have a plan when you approach the face-off dot
    • There are many different ways to win a face-off, how you plan to win the face off depends on where the face-off is taking place. In the neutral zone you may try something cheeky like tapping the puck forwards and blasting past the centermen, in your own end you may tie-up the other centermen and have your defence or winger come in and get the puck, in the offensize zone you could win the puck back on your fore-hand, back-hand, between your legs or even put it right on net. Never approach the face-off without a plan
  2. Let your team mates know about your plan
    • Think of where you want to win the face-off to, and let your players know. If you are going to win it back to the defencemen, give a little wink to the d-man so he knows the puck is coming. If you are going to tie up the centermen let your players know so they can be prepared.
  3. Get nice and low
    • I probably said this about 20 times in the video, haha. When you are low to the ice you can react faster to the puck drop and you will be anchored to the ice. It is important to be nice and stable when the puck drops in case the other centermen tries to push into the circle.
  4. Choke up on the stick
    • In the video I show you how I like to hold the stick, but it’s not just me. Watch almost any NHL player and they move their top hand about halfway down the stick, and their bottom hand right near the blade. This helps increase their reaction time, and allows them to get more power and leverage on the stick. If both players go for the puck at the same time you need to be able to out muscle the other guy, so it is important to get your bottom hand close to the blade.
  5. Switch up your grip
    • If you are going to win the puck on your backhand or between your legs you should modify the grip on your stick. Roll your bottom hand over and hold the stick as if you were going to cross-check someone in the teeth. This grip helps you improve your quickness and power, I show the grip in the video above.
  6. Use your body!
    • You don’t always need to win the puck back with your stick, there are other options. You can forget about the puck altogether and just tie up the other centerman (and have your winger or defence come in and get the puck) or you can just chop the other players stick (moving it out of the way) and then go for the puck. You can also try spinning into the face-off dot and then using your feet to kick the puck to one of your players.
  7. Know your opponent
    • Knowing your opponent is very helpful if you want to win more faceoffs, if the other centermen likes to go for the crisp win every time, modify your face-off plan, instead of going for the puck, just chop his stick out of the way, then get the puck. I had a centermen who would always push the puck forwards and then blast past me, I knew it was coming so I quickly closed my legs. The puck bounced off my shin pad while he flew past me, I then grabbed the puck split the D and got a shot on net.
    • You can get to know the centermen by paying attention to their technique when you line up for a faceoff and while the other lines are facing off. If there is a particularly good centerman you know of try to remember what team he is on so you can be prepared the next time you play them!
  8. Tape up the slash zone
    • Centermen tend to break sticks more than other players, it’s because the flex zone of the stick takes so much abuse during faceoffs. I like to tape up the bottom part of my stick to avoid those little chips that eventually lead to the stick breaking mid-shot. The tape also gives you a bit of grip during the face off.

Tips From the Pro’s

Here is a great video from the Washington capitals with two of their top faceoff guys

Here is another good video with Craig Adams, he talks you through the process and teaches you how to read the other center.

David Steckel is consistently among the top NHL face-off winners, last year he was the #1 face-off winner in the league. I have embedded a video below with a few tips from David Steckel.

Face off Infographic




The Role of a Centerman in Hockey


When you are playing organized hockey it is important that everyone on the team plays their positions and does “their job”. I like to teach each player what their job is so they understand where they need to be and what they should be doing in each situation on the ice. If just one player on the ice is out of position it can alter the outcome of the game, so it is important to understand your role on the ice is and the role of the other players. I have already written an article on the role of a winger in hockey, and in this article I will detail what a centerman should be doing in various situations on the ice.

The Responsibilities of a Centerman

In general the centerman is the “support man” this means he is helping out the other players when they are in trouble, the centerman is also considered the quaterback as he will win faceoffs, and lead breakouts. The wingers typically stick to their side of the ice, however the centermen has more freedom to roam. Even though the centerman covers the most amount of ice (and usually does the most skating) that does not mean you can just skate around and hope you get the puck. Your general duties as a centerman are to win faceoffs, cause trouble in front of the other teams net, stop players and pucks in front of your own net, score goals, make passes, help out your wingers, lead break-outs and back check.

Duties of the Centerman in the Offensive Zone

In the offensive zone (as in other zones) the centerman’s job is to offer support to the other team members. A good “general area” to hang out until you are needed is in the slot on whatever side the puck is on. Remember to always keep your feet moving and always be skating, this makes it easier to get going when you need to!

While you are in front of the net you will be reading the play, keep an eye on what the other team is doing and what your team is doing. If your winger has possession of the puck get open in front and call for a pass. Remember your other winger will also be trying to get open in front of the net so don’t block him. If your other winger is close to the net then go to the high slot, if your winger is in the high slot then go to the “backdoor” of the net or if you think your winger will get a pass and shoot just screen the goalie and be there for the garbage goal (rebounds).

If your winger does not have possession of the puck then read the play, will he get possession? If you are unsure get a bit closer so you can help him out if help is needed. Remember you are the support guy, so if your winger is getting double teamed along the boards get in there and dig for the puck to help him out.

Remeber to Give your players options if your winger has the puck and is looking for a pass either get open in front of the net, or head behind the net so your winger can cycle the puck back to you. If the winger is heading up the boards and cycles the puck back to you then look for him moving to the net, this is a great way for the winger to shake the D and then get open and then you can feed him the puck for a shot on net.

What if the other team has the puck?

If the other team has possession in the offensive zone then you should switch to defense. They will be attempting to break out and you don’t want that to happen. While on defense in the offensive zone you need to read the play, see where guys are moving, and watch where the guy with the puck is looking, this will help you predict their moves and hopefully intercept a pass or strip the man of the puck and re-gain possession. Usually when they get possession you should start moving towards the blue line, that way if they try to make a break out pass you can intercept, or at least have a bit of speed going to back-check / keep up with the play, you don’t want to get caught deep in your end with the other team breaking out.

Duties of the Centerman in the Defensive Zone

centerman-defensive-zoneIn the defensive zone your team is trying to stop the other team from scoring and you are trying to get the puck out. Just like in the offensive zone your job as a centerman is to offer support. Also similar to the offensive zone you will be hanging around the slot area, but this time for different reasons.

When the other team has the puck and is trying to score they will be trying to get open in front of the net, usually they will have a winger and a centermen, and sometimes a D-man will sneak in close to the top of the circle if the opportunity arises. This means there are 1-3 men who are looking for a puck in front of the net. On your team you have two defencemen, one is usually busy trying to get the puck, while the other is in front of the net being a BOSS and not letting people get near the net or get open. As a centermen you want to help him out and pick up anyone who might be open. Hang out in the slot, block the cross ice passes, and tie up any open man.

A lot of the goals that get scored come from cross-ice passes, one-timers, and back door tap in goals, these occur when a player on the opposite side of the ice gets open and his team mate feeds him the puck for a nice open net goal (especially if you have a slow goalie). As a centerman you want to make sure this does not happen. Try to see what lanes are open and block them, you don’t have to shadow a player, but keep your head on a swivel and take away any passing opportunities while your d-man battles in the corner to start the break-out. If your defenseman is outnumbered along the boards you can go and help him out, just make sure you aren’t leaving a man wide open in front of the net (in this scenario there would probably only be one person in front of the net and your other defensemen should have him covered anyways).

Defensive Coverage Video from HockeyShare.Com

Thanks to HockeyShare for this great video

Tips for clogging up the center area and blocking passes

  • Read the play and think about the ice in “lanes” what lanes are open? what options does the opposing player with the puck have? if you can get in their head you can stop a lot of plays
  • Watch the eyes of the player who has the puck, they usually look before they pass so it can give you some clues to where they will be skating or passing
  • You can take up a lot of ice and still stay mobile, take a look at the picture to the right. This is a good pass-blocking position. The player uses his stick to block in front, his front leg is in a position to block a saucer pass but still allow him to get up quickly if he needs to, and his back leg is kneeling which covers some ice behind him. Of all the pass-blocks I see this one is the most effective (I used this method to stop the other team from scoring an empty net goal recently!)
  • Remember that this is a good technique for blocking passes, but not as good if the person is taking a slapshot, for that you could read our article  and video on how to block a shot.

What happens when your team gets the puck?

When your team gets possession in the defensive zone it is time to start the break-out. There are a number of ways to break out but it usually starts with the d-man passing to the centermen who then feeds a breaking winger, or the winger getting the puck and feeding it to the centerman.

Make sure the puck gets out of your end!

Sometimes when the defensemen gets the puck all three forwards start skating for a breakout pass, but this can cause problems. Read the play, does your d-man have a clear pass to a winger? If he does then great, start skating out of the zone for a pass from your winger. If the defensemen doesn’t have a clear pass you can circle in and get an easy short pass to start the break out. Another option is when the defense have the puck behind the net, this is your cue to skate hard behind the net and either pick up the puck, or leave it and then get a pass from the d-man, or head to center for the d-to-winger-to-centerman pass. Remember you are the support man so you should always be giving your players options for passes

Duties of the Centerman in the Neutral Zone

In the Neutral zone you are either attacking or playing defense. For the break out you will either have the puck, or looking to get the puck. If you have the puck you can pass to the head man (if that’s an option) skate with the puck into the other teams end, or if the defense have you covered just go for a dump and chase, or dump and change.

If your team mates have the puck you have a few options, if your defencemen has the puck you can skate across lanes in the neutral zone in order to give your defencemen someone to pass to, if your winger has the puck you will either get a pass from him in the neutral zone or break into the offensive zone. While breaking in the first man in should go hard to the net, and the second man in will stay high.

If the other team has the puck you are basically trying to stop them from getting into your zone. In most cases you will be playing catch-up so skate hard to get into the play and try to get in the way of passes, or sneak up on the guy with the puck and strip the puck from him. If you are in front of the play you can help the defensemen, try to either pick up the man closest to you who is trying to get open for a pass, or if you are closest to the guy with the puck match his speed and force him to the boards.

Tips for taking and winning Faceoffs

Winning the faceoff is very important no matter who’s end you are in, below I will outline a few tips that should help you win more faceoffs

  • Choke up on the stick, having your lower hand closer to the blade of the stick allows you to get a lot of power on the draw and react quickly
  • If you are winning the puck to the back hand turn both your hands over (like the picture to the right) this helps you pull the stick back quickly and gives you a slight advantage
  • Talk to your wingers and defencemen first and let them know what you plan to do off the faceoff, usually a quick head nod will do the trick but it helps if you have a plan
  • You don’t always have to win the faceoff with your stick, you can tie the man up and have a winger come in, or you can tie up the wingers stick and kick the puck back with your foot
  • Watch the refs hand or elbow, if the ref holds the puck high then watch his elbow as this will move first, if the ref holds the puck lower then watch his hand. You don’t have to stare at it, but keep an eye on it in your peripheral vision. When his hand moves you should start moving to win the faceoff.
  • Read the other player and try to predict what he is going to do, this may help you change your strategy and win more faceoffs.
  • A good trick for faceoffs in the neutral zone is to tap the puck forwards and try to blast through the defence, it’s a risky move but it works.

How to Win a Faceoff Video

This is a video we did on how to win Faceoffs, if you want a few extra tips you can also see the full article on how to win face-offs

In Summary

WOOH, that only took me a few hours to write and edit, hopefully I covered everything 😀 In summary the centermen will usually be hanging out in the slot / circles in the offensive and defensive zones. While in that area the centermen should be looking for opportunities to get the puck either by calling for a pass, intercepting a pass, or by recognizing a moment when his teammate needs help and then going in and getting the puck. The wingers and defence have areas they should always be, but the centermen has the freedom to roam around these areas and help out. Faceoffs are very important so the centermen should take this skill very seriously and always be working to improve his faceoff win percentage. Centermen should also be good skaters and be able to give and receive passes very well.

I think that pretty much sums up the role of the centermen, if I missed anything or you are unclear about something just let me know in the comments below and I will do my best to respond.


12 Pro Face-Off Tips

face off hockey

Thanks to Jeff Serowik, former NHL’er and owner of Pro Ambitions Hockey, Inc. for these great face-off tips.

Tips for taking a face-off in hockey:

  1. Great knee bend
  2. Grip the stick with one hand on top of shaft and the other hand really low on shaft for leverage
  3. Watch the referees hand and try to bat the puck out of the air as he’s dropping puck
  4. If you’re having trouble winning face-offs in a particular game, at least neutralize your opponent and tie his stick up and have your winger come get the puck.
  5. Believe you can win every face-off and take tremendous pride in it.
  6. All forwards should be aware of how to take face-offs in case the center gets bumped out.
  7. Hand and wrist strength and quickness.  Purchase a wrist gripper and use in the car. Also practicing dribbling a golf ball and work on hand-eye coordination drills.
  8. Communication with your other line mates, make sure your all on the same page.
  9. Read and react the situation of the game.  Are you down a goal? Up a goal? Short-handed, Power play? Last minute of game?
  10. Practice taking face-offs on the pond, at the end of practice or in your garage.
  11. Also, Many coaches implement trick plays in all 3 zones, these are fun and sometimes work!! Coaches should practice face off alignment on a routine basis so at crunch time all players should know what to do depending on being down a goal, up a goal or if you pull your goalie. Preparation is very important and can be the difference between winning and losing.
  12. Make sure you and your linemates are ready for the hurry up puck drop that referees are instituting now.

I hope this helps

Have fun,

Jeff Serowik

Note from Jeremy – Thanks Jeff for those awesome tips. I don’t have pro experience but I do play center and here are a few tips that have worked for me.

  • Know your strengths – There is one spot that I can win the face-off to almost every time, so in clutch situations I try to win the puck there
  • Learn how to win to all locations – As a centremen you should know how to win the face-off and put the puck to your left D, right D, and both wingers. You should also know how to chip the puck forwards and take off with the puck, and how to take a shot right from the circle.
  • Watch the ref’s elbow – For some reason this always worked for me for timing. I found most refs would move their elbow before they moved anything else. Instead of watching their hand, I watched their elbow and I found that helped with timing.
  • You don’t have to win the faceoff with your stick – There have been times where I would just tie up the other centremen and then kick the puck to where I want it.  This is not the fastest way to get the puck where you need it, but it is good to know about this option.
  • Pull with both hands – A common trick used by a lot of NHL players is to pull with both hands. Instead of holding a stick as if you were shooting some players will flip the bottom hand around and hold the stick as if they were holding a kayak paddle. face off hockey
  • Make sure your team mates know where you plan on putting the puck – there is nothing more embarrassing than winning the puck cleanly to your defencemen, only to have them miss the puck.

I hope these faceoffs tips have helped, winning faceoffs has a lot to do with hand eye co-ordination so make sure you practice a lot!

If you have any face off tips you can leave them in the comment section below

<p align=”left”>FACE-OFFS:<br>
by Jeff Serowik, former NHL’er and owner of Pro Ambitions Hockey, Inc.</p>

How to Win Face-Offs

We just published a face-off video and article with a tonne of great tips for winning more faceoffs, check it out here how to win faceoffs in hockey

This is a guest post from Jeff Serowik, former NHL’er and owner of Pro Ambitions Hockey, Inc.

A former teammate of mine Yanic Perreault who had a brilliant NHL career made millions of dollars because he’s one of the leagues premier face-off guys. NHL GMs value these guys like goal scorers because the more face-offs your team wins the more puck possession the team has thus creating a winning environment.

Face-offs are all 5 guys (I refer to guys in this article but I haven’t forgotten about the girls) responsibilities. Each guy on the ice has a job and needs to pull his weight. The center is the leader on the ice and needs to make sure all guys know their responsibilities each and every time a face off is taken.

In the Offensive Zone the center has 3 options:

  1. Win the puck back to defenseman for a shot and all forwards hold up/get in the way of their opponent (without taking a interference penalty) keep your feet moving and crash the net for screens and rebounds. Defense get your shot to the net even if it is a wrist shot 4-5” in the air.
  2. Push the puck forward and trying to either get a shot on net off the face off or put it in the general vicinity of the net and crash for rebounds.
  3. Tie the opponents stick up and have your winger come in and get puck 

    Typical alignment on these face offs is wingers on either side of center. The guy in front of the net holds up his guy and then goes to net for screens.The winger on the boards is assisting the center for loose pucks and going into corner to fight for puck if the center loses the draw.

In the Neutral Zone the center has the same types of options listed above, but is ultimately trying to win the face-off and gain possession of the puck. Wingers must hold up and then get open for a pass from defenseman.

Defenseman must be ready to receive puck and either move it to your defensive partner, pass to the wing or center,or dump it in. (If you dump the puck in, it must be either a soft dump-a chip in so the wingers can chase after it, or a hard rimmed dump that the goalie can’t stop behind the net. If you dump the puck in and the goalie stops it and gains possession it’s a give away). Transition is very important to your offensive attack.Put the puck in the forwards hands as fast as you can so they can pressure the other teams defense with speed.

Tip: It’s imperative that wherever the puck is you must support the puck.This means you must always face the puck, open up your body and be ready for a pass with stick on the ice. You never want to have your back to the puck because if a pass comes you won’t see it or you will get your bell rung. Communicate and learn to catch passes on forehand and backhand. Give a nice target.

In the Defensive Zone possession is vital. The center must make sure his line mates know their responsibilities. The center has the same3 options listed above but wingers can have several different alignments.I generally like to have the wingers on each side of the center.The winger’s job if the face-off is lost is to get out to the defense and prevent them from shooting the puck. You have to battle through hold-ups, stick on the ice and take out your defenseman. If the defenseman knows he is going to get punished every time he shoots the puck he will rush the shot and get it blocked or it will be a soft shot. I broke my nose 2 different times shooting the puck from the point in games as a pro. The forwards came at me so hard and try to intimidate you. I broke my beak when the forward threw his shoulder or stick in my face after I shot the puck. Needless to say, I rushed my shot and paid the price. Forwards must also get “Big” and be in the shooting lane so you can block a shot. Always line yourself up with your net so you know your in the shooting lane.

If the center wins the face-off the defenseman grabs the puck and goes behind the net with breakaway speed and hits his winger on the far side. This is an art and needs to be worked on with the coach putting pressure on the defenseman to simulate game situations. Defenseman should always stay tight to the net and use it as a deterrent from the opponent. After you pass the puck the defense must skate up ice as hard as he can to try and create offense as a 4th attacker or if the puck is turned over the defense has great gap (right in the face of the other team)