Fundamental Skills Analysis
- Defense starts with quality goaltending and is reinforced with good foot and body positioning by the players in front of the goalie ("position before execution"). In the same vein, the “athletic position” (with a wide/balanced stance) should also be maintained as best as possible while playing defense.
- “On-ball” positioning should be a few steps back to the middle, hips parallel to the side boards, in line with the offender’s top shoulder; between their stick and the net. "Off-ball" defenders should position themselves further away from their check, ready to help in the “prime scoring” area, also to stay “tight” as a unit. Off-ball and “adjacent” (same side) defenders need to “sag” over “showing help," but also be able to recover to their check if necessary. The thought is that the offense has to beat all 5 defenders in order to score a goal; another analogy would be that you must cover 1.5 players at all times, your check and half of someone else's.
- If a teammate gets beat towards the net then the next closest defender should “slide” over and help out, with other all defenders "helping the helper," if need be. Beyond all else, communication amongst defenders for picks coming, when to “stay” on a check, and when to “switch” checks, is the key to a successful team defense. Players should constantly be talking to each other. The ultimate goal is not to get scored on, defending just your check isn’t good enough!
- As offensive motion develops with ball movement, arrive at a check in control, never over-committing or over-checking, while keeping balanced. Deliver “cross-checks” & short “slashes” as the opponent gets closer to a threatening scoring area, shadowing them backward towards the goal. Think "position then pressure," as a general rule. Defense in it's most basic form is a "numbers game," you are always playing percentages in a cat & mouse-like affair.
- Categories: Free / Defense / Beginner / Drillbook