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Positioning/Line advice

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10-07-2010, 09:32 AM
  #1
JSand
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Positioning/Line advice

Looking for some suggestions on positioning/line advice for our beer league team. Here is the situation:

We have 10 skaters on a low level beer league team. Of those 10, only 2 have any regular experience, 1 played high school varsity level many years ago and the rest are all relative beginners (started playing within the last year). Our plan was to grow as a team and get better together. The guys are out for fun but also want to learn and be competitive at the same time.

As beginners we are playing pretty darn well and half way through the season we find ourselves tied for third in the league. We typically have no problem scoring but our defense is a bit soft at times. I would expect this given our relative inexperience as defense is a tough position to learn. We currently have one of our strongest skaters back on D with some "average" skaters who are improving quickly and have taken the time to learn defensive positioning. Two of them wanted to learn the position and play back there. Last game we moved a player who had been playing forward back to D and he played very well. He is a good skater, fairly big guy, with a long reach and has pretty decent hockey sense. However, he has made it clear that he does not want to play back there in the future.

He believes that we should move a couple of other skaters back who are stronger skaters. I do not entirely disagree but the problem is that our strongest skaters are also our leading scorers. One is second in the league in scoring and the other is third. The one who is third is a great passer and has more assists than goals so he is a playmaker. He is also a small guy - about 5'4" and 135 lbs and I'm not sure that he is a great candidate to help move people away from the net or block shots.

In sum, there is an internal dispute brewing and someone suggested that we rotate someone into a D position every period. My thought was that it would be more helpful for guys to get used to playing together rather than having different bodies back there all the time, particularly if the plan remains to stay together as a team next season as well. Others have countered that "chemistry" isn't that important at this level but that the best skaters should be on D regardless of the effect that it may have on scoring. I can see both points of view. Do you really sacrifice your top 2 scorers to D? Any suggestions?

Thanks

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10-07-2010, 12:54 PM
  #2
Jarick
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IMO, at the low levels, chemistry is not important, talent is. Your best skaters will probably be your best scorers or your best defensemen.

What I would do if everyone is willing or able:

Get a few good skaters on defense and if you've got a few bad skaters so be it. Pair up the strong with the weak skaters, or alternate them. People need to be humble, but don't rub it in their face.

Put your best skating forwards on center. Then pair up stronger skaters with weaker skaters on the wing. Fudge around and if a couple people like to play together, keep them there. Bottom line, you don't want three forwards standing around while the other team is rushing the puck into your zone. At least one or two forwards should come back and help out the D.

In your end, tell your wingers to glue onto the point man so the other team can't just hammer the puck from the point. Let your center support the play down low, but don't get 3 (or even worse, all 5) guys chasing the puck around blindly. Trust each other, otherwise you'll have 5 guys chasing the puck carrier and then there's 3 guys wide open on the other team. Easiest way to do this is to glue the wingers to the other team's D.

Let the offense take care of itself for the most part, but remember to use the points. If you are the first man in, get the puck low and hold it until your teammates can support. Wrap it around the boards to your teammates or make a nice pass to the D for a shot on goal. Most guys get so excited in the O zone that set plays don't really matter at the low level though.

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10-07-2010, 08:39 PM
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Thanks for the advice Jarick. Our centers are very good at betting back to help on D and we do pair strong/weaker skaters on D to balance things out. I think that is what has helped us so far. Guys on the point generally dont have big shots at this level so the forwards cheat down low a bit on D and that has helped some too. I guess the challenge is getting someone to willingly play D because everyone is so fixated on scoring and I hated to take my top goal scorer and top assist man away from the O.

Jeff

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10-07-2010, 08:44 PM
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Pez68
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Playing guys in a position they don't want to play often leads to issues. Especially if you play a guy on defense that doesn't want to play defense. Eventually he'll be skating the puck up a ton, pinching, and being a liability. I would talk to the better players and maybe rotate them through on defense every couple games. If they are team players, they should be fine with that.

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10-07-2010, 09:59 PM
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budster
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I think this is a fairly common beer league scenario. My advice would be

1) Play the same positions consistently. When you have the same guy putting a left shock on a Cadillac at the factory, he gets pretty good at it after a few weeks. When everybody knows their role and masters it, the team will be much more efficient

2) Be in the right position Playing a position means exactly what it sounds like: having a specific responsibility in a designated area. Even a team with little talent will get lucky sometimes if guys are where they're supposed to be. Everyone should always know what their job is. Missing a play because you're out of place is far worse then because you lack the skill to execute it.

3) Stack your first line - There is a temptation to mix things up to balance it out, but hockey isn't math. As they say, the whole is often more than the sum of it's parts, and that couldn't be more true in sports. Besides, the weaker players can watch from the bench and see what they are supposed to be doing. With 10 you have two lines so each guy will have a "buddy". The senior guy can coach his jr guy from the sidelines. This builds team unity and makes everyone better.

Lastly, if a guy doesn't want to play a position, see if you can convince him to play it once or twice. Most players would rather win than play winger, so if it does work everyone will be on board. If not, they wasted a game or two--big deal.

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10-07-2010, 10:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSand View Post
Do you really sacrifice your top 2 scorers to D? Any suggestions?

Thanks

Ok, What I'm about to tell you, some players will not agree. But that's what makes coaching fun. First, I recommend that you place high end players at "D", one's that know how to skate backwards, ,and then allow them to go up on the rush. This means that you will have to take the winger on that side to fall back and play that defensive position. Then have that defenseman get back and play his position after the rush. This is not a rush and wait and see! Do the job and get back.

Now, If you take average skater and place them back there, which is fine, then they better know their stuff. (putting it kindly) Now, juts because you have an above average player on "D" doesn't mean he knows what he is doing.

Now, you guys out there that think I'm full of sh**, that fine. Maybe this will help your game...and maybe not. (disclosure)


Ok, look at this picture below....


Ok, what you will see here is that I have split the ice down the center. Now, one of the best things you can do for your team is to play your position. There are 3 seperate teams within that line...an offensive team, a defensive team, and yes...a goalie. He falls into a different kind of category....believe you me.

Ok, the best thing one can do for their team is shore up the defense. Not necessarily by placing the best (only something I would do) but to shore the defense on positional play and tactics.

Ok, so we split the ice down the middle. Rule 347: Wherever the puck is, that's the strong side...wherever the puck is not...that's the weak side. With me so far? Now, as a defensive team (part of the whole line) your two guys on that line have to play like they are one, but within a mirror. If my defensive partner goes back, I go back. If he moves up, I move up. If he crosses over on to my half of the ice, I move over to his side or half.

When this happens, always expect the back pass. He might seen it annnnd he might not. Next thing to remember. Rule 348: The player without the puck goes behind. This means that if you are in your defensive zone and you a putting the puck in the other goal...that's the forward direction and the opportunity to gain realestate. Always keep this in mind while you are crossing for changing skating lanes. "If you don't have the puck and someone with the puck is coming into your skating lane, you move over to the lane he just left, by going behind him in the exchange!

Sorry, went off on a tangent. Now, mirroring this the most important thin g the defensive pair can do. If he gets the pass, this is know as what? The strong side! And coach says...always exit the zone on the weak side...not the strong side!

Why do they call it the strong side...because everyone in the hockey world is on that side. So if the puck goes to one defenseman, he must always pass "D to D". Not maybe, or every once in a while...ALWAYS! Why?

This is the foundation for everything on the ice. If you are a winger, you know that if the puck goes back to this defenseman, you will know that he will pass to the other defenseman, and this will give you a better idea on where and when to swing low and puck support...get it!

If the ding-dang defenseman doesn't follow this rule...it throws everything into a CLUSTER *%$^. Why, because everyone is expecting that this is going to happen. Don't worry about the other team knowing...chances are really good, they don't and won't. Sorry for the hillbilly talk.

Now, in your defensive zone, everyone has a responsibility to play here position. Just like Jarick said...Trust is important! Now, here a little zone map for each responsibility.

Now, you will see that I have mapped out the winger zones within your defensive zone kind of low to one side. This is to allow the winger to set up for a breakout when your defenseman have the puck. Now, when do you know when to get out of your zone and start breakout? Answer: When you see that your defenseman has complete control. This means on his stick. If you have a defenseman with the puck and he is looking...ooops, it too late. Passing windows close very quickly.

Rule 349: You only have 8 seconds to get "IT OUT OF THE DEFENSIVE ZONE" and that's it...nothing more! So this means Tape to Tape passing is important. Not tape to skates, or tape to back, or tape to head....tape to tape.

Too many teams fail because they can't get it out of their zone and it happens because they don't make that one little transitional play which is "Defense to Offense", which generally happens fron behind the net to the guy set up on the board for the breakout. That's where everything breaks down....again!

Now, if you can follow these simple steps, you are about 80% of the way. I will post the offense zone tomorrow.

Head coach

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10-07-2010, 11:58 PM
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JSand
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Thanks guys! How do you feel about having a rather small player (5'4") who is a good skater back on D? Any concerns about his ability to move people from in front of the net?

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10-08-2010, 12:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by budster View Post
I think this is a fairly common beer league scenario. My advice would be

1) Play the same positions consistently. When you have the same guy putting a left shock on a Cadillac at the factory, he gets pretty good at it after a few weeks. When everybody knows their role and masters it, the team will be much more efficient

2) Be in the right position Playing a position means exactly what it sounds like: having a specific responsibility in a designated area. Even a team with little talent will get lucky sometimes if guys are where they're supposed to be. Everyone should always know what their job is. Missing a play because you're out of place is far worse then because you lack the skill to execute it.

3) Stack your first line - There is a temptation to mix things up to balance it out, but hockey isn't math. As they say, the whole is often more than the sum of it's parts, and that couldn't be more true in sports. Besides, the weaker players can watch from the bench and see what they are supposed to be doing. With 10 you have two lines so each guy will have a "buddy". The senior guy can coach his jr guy from the sidelines. This builds team unity and makes everyone better.

Lastly, if a guy doesn't want to play a position, see if you can convince him to play it once or twice. Most players would rather win than play winger, so if it does work everyone will be on board. If not, they wasted a game or two--big deal.
you would think so but in this case I think a couple would rather play wing to try to accumulate "stats"

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10-08-2010, 01:09 AM
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budster
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSand View Post
you would think so but in this case I think a couple would rather play wing to try to accumulate "stats"
Well, at least we got to the root of the problem. No reason to keep hacking at the branches.

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10-08-2010, 02:31 AM
  #10
Pez68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSand View Post
Thanks guys! How do you feel about having a rather small player (5'4") who is a good skater back on D? Any concerns about his ability to move people from in front of the net?
If you aren't playing check hockey, it shouldn't matter. Speed/stick skills rule the day. Not much moving people from in front of the net happening in mens' league.

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10-08-2010, 12:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pez68 View Post
If you aren't playing check hockey, it shouldn't matter. Speed/stick skills rule the day. Not much moving people from in front of the net happening in mens' league.
Exactly! If your 2 feet tall, it not going to make a difference. If you are playing defense, all you have to do is PICK UP THE GUYS STICK. Let the goalie worry about defections and screens. Oh, you goalies that are out there say...what the H**!
Yeah, remember, it's beer league. Screens are part of life for you, and you just need to know how to play them. Oh, and don't be whacking away at players ankles in front. This is a great way for you to find him, waiting for you in the parking lot!

Zone coverage is the key to success in your defensive zone, I don't care what kind of league you are in...Mite league, Beer league, old timers league. It's still played the same.

Now, if you are worried about the defensemen not doing their jobs....here's an Idea, Play your position. Oh, and by the way, playing doesn't mean you stand there watching! I don't know how many times I see the defenseman and the center in front, watch the other player get control of the puck and stands there, watching as he addresses the puck.

You know, when the winger, adjust the puck, make sure that it on the heel correctly, make sure the puck is cupped properly, makes sure that the angle of the stick is set properly, and then shoots. WTF is he ordering Pizza or what? Next, just don't stand there and watch the goalie make 3 saves in a row, from the same guy for god sakes.

One of the things that just drives me crazy is to see a defenseman, standing there, the rebound comes out, the defenseman waits to see if the goalie is going to cover it up, and the other guy, who should of had his stick off the ice by the defenseman, put it in past the goalie and then the defenseman just stands there looking at the goalie wondering...why wasn't that goalie doing his job? Why didn't he control the rebound better? Why didn't he just come out and cut down the angle like he's suppose too? Why this, why, that...blah, blah, Blah? HEY! Did you want him to go down to the otherside and score goals for you too? You lazy POS.

I know, I hear it already...Boy, thank god we don't play for this guy....LOL. I know, you guys are saying right about now...what a Di**! I guess that's why beer league teams don't have a coach on the bench. It kind of takes the fun out of the game....doesn't it.

Head coach

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10-08-2010, 01:09 PM
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Let your strongest skaters play D with the wingers understanding that they'll have to be aware of them jumping in the rush now and then.

Most goals in rec leagues get scored from 5 feet in or less, so always have someone crashing the net.

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10-08-2010, 01:13 PM
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Jarick
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Haha, right on coach. Are you sure you weren't watching my beer league scrimmage last night?

Holy crap, we spent some time working on our power play, and the entire time we were trapped in our own end completely unable to get it out. Then our guys decided to play a five-man box all within about 20 feet of each other, in our end, ON THE POWER PLAY.

So I'm talking to our captains, remarking about how everyone's all bunched up, and they agree. And I say that the wingers are leaving the points wide open to get all bunched up in the corners in our end, and they agree. Then I ask if maybe we should coach them not do that, and they're too timid to say anything. Ugh.

My inclination is to take wingers that refuse to cover the man at the point and keep wanting to be as low as possible in the zone and make them centers or defensemen. And the centers and defensemen that never want to go into the corners and float near the blue line should be wingers.

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10-09-2010, 06:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarick View Post
Haha, right on coach. Are you sure you weren't watching my beer league scrimmage last night?

Holy crap, we spent some time working on our power play, and the entire time we were trapped in our own end completely unable to get it out. Then our guys decided to play a five-man box all within about 20 feet of each other, in our end, ON THE POWER PLAY.
Wow! Here's what I did....
Do you guys have practice? Probably not because you guys are in a beer league...right. Most teams like that can bearly afford to pay for the beer league let along practice. Anyways....What I do, because I am a director of a program, I have a "Adults Hockey 123" class. There we work on everything, plus positioning. So I take a can of "Water base" fluorescent orange spray paint (can). Then go and draw these lines that I have Placed in this thread above with the spray can and then I tell them that if they go out of their zone.......I WILL &%#$!*& KILL THEM!!!!!!!!!

It takes a couple of time to make a straight line...LOL. Warning: "Don't hit the boards...that sucks!"

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Last edited by Headcoach: 10-09-2010 at 06:28 PM.
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