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05-06-2011, 10:14 AM
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Quick Guide to playing Defense(foot or skate hockey in non-contact/checking play)

Figured i would assemble my experience and thoughts on defending, as lately I've been thinking about this subject a fair amount and i think i need to put in down in writing. These will be for non checking/contact league, as physical play tends to modify things a bit and not a lot of us play with big hits.

1) Keep playing the man
No checking/contact league doesn't mean you can't touch opponents at all. You need to play it more like a basketball player, that is get in the way of the opponent, but don't rush towards him. As he is coming towards, just get in his way and follow him. If he decides to keep coming at you, HE will check you and get a penalty(or at least a bad rep amongst the other players). He can do every deke in the book, if you follow the body, you will be ok.
Follow Lidstrom(#5). He gives good example on playing the man while not ''hitting the player''. Yes there's a little pushing going around, but i think you can get away with this even in outdoor pickup games. A lot of people love when you get a little physical as it adds intensity to the game.

2)The middle is king
I can't stress, you have to stay in the middle. Giving the middle is a disaster. Even when your opponent is coming full speed towards the middle, its better to get in his way and risk getting runned over then to step aside and let him get the middle. People on the side get poor shots/have to make passes. These tend to fail a lot more.
Robidas does this very well.

3)Cut the pass at all times
Whenever you get outnumbered, always cut the pass. Trust your goalie, even if the last time you trusted him he let an easy one get in. In the long run, shot < pass+shot in terms of scoring. Bend your knees, the stick low, dont run into your goalie(stop just before that). When the puck carrier takes the shot, be quick to CLEAR any rebound. I can't stress this enough. On a 2 on 1, you want to clear the puck most of the time. Keeping is likely to make you lose it right in front of your net.
Lidstrom showing why he's the best

4)Bending your knee = key to poke check
I can't stress this enough because i even see guys in the nhl not doing this. Bending your knees will give you extra range and allow you to have an explosive acceleration following the poke check. If you poke check by leaning your back forward, even if he does lose the puck your in a situation where you have 0 acceleration potential. A quick tip to remember - when you poke check, you want to pokecheck as if you were sitting down on a very low chair.
I really like ed5k. He thoroughly explains the art of the poke check in here.

5)Don't be results oriented
Result oriented is a term that comes from gambling, where one makes the right play but gets a wrong result, and after that starts doing bad plays because ''the right play didn't work''


You decide to stay in the middle and give some room on the boards to an attacker. He takes a shot and scores a snipe top shelf over the goalie's shoulder.
The next time you get a similar situation, you decide to leave the middle of the ice and get the player.
THIS IS INCORRECT. Because his shot got in once last time, does not mean that in the long run staying in the middle is incorrect. You have to see the long run. For everytime he gets a sick top shelf snipe, he will get stopped by your keeper 10-20 times.

Another example:
You decide to cut the pass in a 2 on 1. The puck carrier seeing your cutting the pass, takes a shot and scores. It would be incorrect though, that from now on you go for the puck carrier and stop cutting passes. Pass + shot > shot. If you decide to stop the shot, he will pass and score a lot more often then when you just give him the shot.

6)Shout like a Spartan
Communication is key. Talk, shout, point, whatever you need to do. You have to communicate to your other teamates on how to approach situations. Tell your defenseman to take this guy or cover the pass or whatever, but don't be afraid to talk, point or whatever you need to do to make your point clear. Don't be afraid to be the guy ''in-charge''. Don't do it in an ''angry'' way. Do it in a friendly but firm way.
Ed5k again explains very well. This might be a little advanced for beer leagues or pickup games but believe me, it does wonders.

7)I even stick lift the canes of blind people
In non checking league, stick lift becomes the no.1 tool if the opposing team sets up in your zone. Do not stick lift ''just for the sake of it''. If you stick lift too much, you lose the element of surprise and opposing forwards will expect it and position themselves to stop you from doing so. Wait for a player to make the pass in the crease and then lift using both hands. Also, if your in a position where stick lift is impossible(in front of the player), just whack his stick sideways. It's not as good but still does the job.
Kids these days!

8) Playing Defense is fun
I want to finish with this point because it's very important that as a defensive player, you matter A LOT, despite sometimes not being the flashy goal scorer. Anytime i make a good defensive play, such as a solid stick lift or pokecheck, i always add a +1 to a personal count that i keep, so i know im doing well or not.

Anyway, thats all i got for now, i will probably add more later. If you have questions or want to add more, go ahead. I haven't covered the ''when do i go from skating backwards to forward'', because to be honest, although im getting pretty good at it, i want to experience more of it till i reach a solid conclusion.

Last edited by adaptation: 05-06-2011 at 03:19 PM.
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