Hockey Positioning TipsHockey positioning is a complex topic. It's not something you can learn over night. Here are a few basic positioning tips for offense and defense to get you started.
Hockey Offense Positioning
Standard Hockey Breakout
There are tons of different breakout positioning systems your team can use to quickly and safely move the puck out of your own end. Unfortunately our team doesn't practice, so we tend to keep things pretty simple on the ice. Typically we just use the standard breakout.
Every player should be aware of the standard breakout regardless of the position you play. Defense, Centre and Wing all play a role.
Here is How the Standard Breakout Works:
- The defenseman has the puck behind his own net, and sees a winger positioned along the boards.
- He passes the puck to the winger or rings it around the boards.
- Meanwhile the Center comes back into his own end from the blueline, turns, and curls up ice making himself available for a pass from the winger.
- The winger can then either pass is to the center, or chip it up the boards and out of the zone.
Go Hard to the Net
You may have heard other players yell "Go hard to the net!!" but might be unsure exactly what they meant or when you're supposed to do it.
What your helpful teammates are referring to takes place during a two-man rush in the offensive zone. The player who crosses the blue line with the puck is often in an outside lane (coming down on the right or left wing.) The second forward then drives 'hard to the net', ready for a pass.
The defenseman's job on a rush is to push the forward with the puck to the outside boards. If he does his job right, eventually the forward will run out of ice and be forced to make a pass. The puck carrier may not have time to look up and see exactly where you are as he's blazing down the wing trying to fight off the defense. If he manages to get a pass by the defenseman that's checking him, the puck is going to come hard, right in front of the net. That's where you are expected to be. That's great offensive hockey positioning.
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Defensive Hockey Positioning
Always Cover the Front of the Net
When it comes to defensive positioning, your primary responsibility is to control the slot area. This is the prime scoring area for the other team in front of your net. Let your wingers worry about covering the point men.
When one D-man is in the corner, the other must position themselves in front of the net. If you decide to head into the opposite corner that you started your shift, let your partner know. Switching sides is quite common on defense, but you've got to communicate with each other. You definitely don't want to caught out of position with both of you in the corner with nobody covering the slot.
Read more at Covering the Slot in Hockey
Playing the Point
When you’re playing defense, and the puck is in the offensive zone, your job is to keep the puck in the zone on the other side of the blue line. The 'Point' is the position at the blue line on your side of the ice.
When the other team rings the puck along the boards towards the blueline, your first priority is stop the puck, then try to get a shot on goal or make a pass to an open teammate. If the puck gets by you and crosses the blueline, your entire team has to clear the zone to prevent an offside.
Read more at How to Play the Point in Hockey
How to Control the Gap
Gap control is one of the trickier decisions you will have to make when playing defense. The 'Gap' refers to the amount of space between you and an opposing player entering your defensive zone with the puck - usually a one-on-one.
The first step in controlling the gap in to skate backwards at the same speed as the oncoming forward. This is definitely no easy task. If the forward with the puck started his rush deep in his own end, I will usually start skating forwards hard towards my own net, then turn to face the forward skating backwards to make sure I have enough speed.
While you're still in the neutral zone, your gap can be fairly wide (maybe two stick lengths) as the forward still has a lot of options as to where he will skate, and what he'll do with the puck. Once he reaches the blue line, you've got to narrow the gap to put some pressure of the forward.
Read more at How to Control the Gap