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Tips for Defensive Positioning

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Old
04-26-2011, 01:53 AM
  #1
stupendousman
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Tips for Defensive Positioning

Hey guys,

I recently joined a beginner inline hockey league. I was put on defence because I'm one of the few people on the team that can skate backwards adequately.

The problem I'm having, however, is my defensive positioning. I know that if the puck is in one of the corners, one of the defenceman should stay near the crease to cut off the potential pass (correct?). My problem is that once the forwards are moving around and cycling, I tend to lose track of my positioning and just start to follow the puck.

Say an attacking player has the puck on the half-boards, and he beats my partner - should I engage him? Or should I leave that to my own forwards and stay by the crease to cut off the pass?

Or if the attacking player is cycling around the boards and he goes around the net. I've read somehwere online that the defencemen should switch? So if I'm in front of the net, I should engage the attacker once he rounds the net, and my partner switches to the position I just left.

I don't want to stretch out this post, but there was a couple plays where my d partner and I were kind of lined up staggered, but one behind another. An attacker beat him so I went to defend the attacker and once he beat me and then went on to score, and the other he passed to another forward and then they nearly scored.

It's just things like that that cost our team a couple goals tonight. I know that I made some big errors, but I can't really figure out where to start to improve. I start to over-analyze how I played, then my confidence gets shot, and I start to play a bit worse and well....you get the idea.

Thanks for any help whatsoever!

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04-26-2011, 02:07 AM
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SouthpawTRK
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I would say that some keys to playing defense are as follows:

1. Positioning
2. Play the man
3. Don't puck watch
4. Communication with your D partner
5. Keep your stick on the ice/playing surface

Here's a link that our beer league team uses for reference; it's pretty helpful (IMO).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_SDvPAKt1w

Hope that it helps.

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04-26-2011, 02:11 AM
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MrRuin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stupendousman View Post
Say an attacking player has the puck on the half-boards, and he beats my partner - should I engage him? Or should I leave that to my own forwards and stay by the crease to cut off the pass?
This is a classic case of communication between you, your D partner and your center. You three are basically responsible for defense down low. If your partner gets beat the situation has to be reevaluated. I would still defend the middle and the pass, the shot from the outside should be the goalies job. The pass and the middle are yours.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stupendousman View Post
Or if the attacking player is cycling around the boards and he goes around the net. I've read somehwere online that the defencemen should switch? So if I'm in front of the net, I should engage the attacker once he rounds the net, and my partner switches to the position I just left.
Yes that is what should be done. You can never chase the forwards behind the net without loosing him. Switch!
Quote:
Originally Posted by stupendousman View Post
I don't want to stretch out this post, but there was a couple plays where my d partner and I were kind of lined up staggered, but one behind another. An attacker beat him so I went to defend the attacker and once he beat me and then went on to score, and the other he passed to another forward and then they nearly scored.
Being staggered one behind the other is not good. Ideally you and your partner should mirror your movements on the ice. You should always kind of be in the same position on your sides if that makes sense? Close the gap in the middle, force forwards to the outside. Do not stand behind each other ever.
Quote:
Originally Posted by stupendousman View Post
It's just things like that that cost our team a couple goals tonight. I know that I made some big errors, but I can't really figure out where to start to improve. I start to over-analyze how I played, then my confidence gets shot, and I start to play a bit worse and well....you get the idea.

Thanks for any help whatsoever!
Just keep playing and working on no more than 1-2 things per session. Trying to focus on too many things at once will just overwhelm you. Work on fewer things until you get them down, then move on to the next. If you have the willingness to learn and the ability to analyze your mistakes and try to be better you will.

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04-26-2011, 08:08 AM
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dannythekid
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Angle out the forward, don't let him have the middle of the ice. Communicate with your other D-man and center. Alternate between one man covering the front of the net and the other engaging the winger down low.

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04-26-2011, 11:57 AM
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ATLhockey437
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Communication with your partner and goalie is probably the most important factor. Be yelling, "time" or "man on" as much as possible will help tremendously. When the pucks in the corner, "I got man" / "I got front" will easily solve this problem in knowing when to switch.

If your about to jump up in the play, let your partner and someone on offense know to get back and stay back. So many oddman rushes happen because a dman will jump in and not let a forward know. Esp in roller hockey, backchecking almost doesnt exist haha.

The great thing about inline hockey is that you have way more time to make a pass. Dont rush yourself

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04-26-2011, 12:28 PM
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Geico4yoMoney
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Say an attacking player has the puck on the half-boards, and he beats my partner - should I engage him? Or should I leave that to my own forwards and stay by the crease to cut off the pass?

It really depends on the situation. If you have your center in the front and the other player is dangerous you may want to get over there.
If there is no else to cover the front, you should just try to block the pass and let the goalie and skater duke it out.

Or if the attacking player is cycling around the boards and he goes around the net. I've read somehwere online that the defencemen should switch? So if I'm in front of the net, I should engage the attacker once he rounds the net, and my partner switches to the position I just left.

This is a good way to do it, as long as you both are on the same page. Usually once the attacking forward gets behind the net I abort the chase and move to the front, allowing the other defenseman to meet him head on at the other side. If you have good chemistry with your team it should flow pretty smoothly leaving minimal disturbances of coverage.

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04-27-2011, 01:15 PM
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OkimLom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geico4yoMoney View Post
[I]Say an attacking player has the puck on the half-boards, and he beats my partner - should I engage him? Or should I leave that to my own forwards and stay by the crease to cut off the pass?[/I]

It really depends on the situation. If you have your center in the front and the other player is dangerous you may want to get over there.
If there is no else to cover the front, you should just try to block the pass and let the goalie and skater duke it out.

Or if the attacking player is cycling around the boards and he goes around the net. I've read somehwere online that the defencemen should switch? So if I'm in front of the net, I should engage the attacker once he rounds the net, and my partner switches to the position I just left.

This is a good way to do it, as long as you both are on the same page. Usually once the attacking forward gets behind the net I abort the chase and move to the front, allowing the other defenseman to meet him head on at the other side. If you have good chemistry with your team it should flow pretty smoothly leaving minimal disturbances of coverage.
1. It depends on the circumstances, if you have nobody in front at the moment, take him, but don't screen the goalie in the process. If there is a guy near the front use your body positioning(shield the guy away from the goalie while tying up his stick) to close off any chance of a rebound. Let the goalie take the shot. If you see the chance to poke check him do it. Or if not put your stick in front of his.

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04-27-2011, 04:52 PM
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Issue #1 is a really tricky one because you have to consider a lot of different elements.

Since you are in an inline league, I will assume you play 4 on 4 (my league sets up that way) which means you don't have a center to drop in and cover the front of the net for you. On my team, the lowest hockey IQ people are almost all forwards, so they rarely recognize these situations and drop in so I can take the winger on the boards.

This typically leads to my next line of thinking, skill of the two players involved. If the player coming from the side is a particularly good shooter and the player in front is not too talented with receiving passes or shooting, I will take a position between the two (still closer to the intended pass target) to ensure the shooter can't get better shooting position on my goalie, and any pass he attempts to make will have to be a saucer pass (which I can usually read and get a piece of). This gives the biggest chance of disrupting the play.

If it is non-check inline hockey, the best tips I can give you for defense is to just maintain body positioning between the player with the puck and the net and be patient for them to make an error. Going directly at a player rarely works out because you can't play the body, and it is difficult to make a quick stop and get back in the play.

And if someone tries to make a fancy move around you and threads the puck through your feet (going approximately the same speed), stay calm, block their path through for about 1 second to slow them down, keep your body between them and the puck, turn around, and play the puck to a safe location. Most refs give you a 1-2 second of interference time before giving any penalties. Just focus on the man first, the puck second. In that 1 second, you've already messed up that guys plan, and it gives both you and your d partner time to decide what to do. In the beginner leagues, there are a lot of guys playing below their level and they are used to players watching the puck and letting them walk around them when they try moves like this.

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04-29-2011, 10:14 PM
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stupendousman
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Thanks for all the advice people (particularly mhkehoe, it is a 4 on 4 non-contact inline leage)!

I think my main problem is probably puck watching and a lack of communication. Most of what you guys are saying makes sense, but most of the time I think our team's skill level is just too low so that a multidude of mistakes gets made by every single player. We'll play pretty wildly and that throws all the positioning off. So communication is definitely something I'll work on.

I'll see how all your advice works out on my game on Saturday.

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05-01-2011, 04:47 PM
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stupendousman
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I felt a lot more comfortable this time around. Made one gaff that lead directly to a goal where I was over aggressive on a one-on-one and the attacker just went right by my stick check. Overall though, I felt I played a lot more solid in my own end this time around.

The only thing I'm still having troubles with is knowing when to turn while I'm skating backwards. I don't want to turn early only to have the attacker go the other way, but by the time I see the forward moving one way and I turn with him, I'm already a step or two behind. Is there some way I can work at this? Maybe leg strength training at the gym or something?

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05-01-2011, 08:23 PM
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Steelhead16
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#1 thing I always coach my defensemen is to not give up a crossing pass in front of the net. Whether it be a 2 on 1 or 3 on 2 or a forward beating a teammate coming off the half boards. Play a guy and stay with him and let your goalie know who he is going to play so that he has every opportunity to do so and then eliminate rebounds. If you can cut the ice in half for your goalie and keep your man from scoring then job well done. If you are doing someone else's job chances are nobody is doing your's.

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05-03-2011, 12:23 PM
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I play D as well and here are the things i have learned over the years:

1. Never ever look at the puck. Always look at the chest of a player because if he tries to make a move you will see his chest lean a certain way.

2. Communication to to D paring on players in his blind spot coming fast. Something like "Man on, hard out or something like reverse hard".

3. Don't over-commit in the offensive zone. If you feel the need to skate with the puck YOU need to make sure that a forward is back. You can't always rely on the forwards to cover.

4. If at all possible give your goalie line of sight to the puck at all times. Don't try to be fancy ad attempt to deflect it away from the goalie.

5. Proper positioning when the puck is in your zone is crucial. Make sure one of you are in the slot and both of you are not chasing the forwards.

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05-03-2011, 12:53 PM
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Jarick
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Communication is huge. Whoever's closer and/or moving should take the man and yell at the D partner. Always be yelling out there, pointing, whatever...it's crucial.

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05-03-2011, 02:45 PM
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bigbadbruins1
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I too had this problem. I fixed it by the old "keep your head on a swivel."
By constantly looking around you can still know where you are, and where the puck is, but it also keeps a general idea of where your teammates/ opponents are. It also helps to stop you from being glued to the puck because if you are frequently scanning your surroundings you tend to not puck watch.

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05-04-2011, 02:10 AM
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Ron Barr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stupendousman
Say an attacking player has the puck on the half-boards, and he beats my partner - should I engage him? Or should I leave that to my own forwards and stay by the crease to cut off the pass?
If I'm picturing this correctly, the attacking player is skating along the boards holding the puck, and beats the defender, and is in on a two-on-one, with you as the only defender left backing up.

In this situation, hold your ground between the two players in on the two-on-one, and make sure that cross-ice pass doesn't work. Force the guy holding the puck to shoot it, chances are he has a poor angle on the goalie anyway. If he scores on that shot, it's the goalie's fault, not your own (or your defensive partner's fault for getting burned in the first place).

Best thing to do when playing defense is just settle down. If you're hemmed in your own zone, don't go chasing the puck around. Slow down, look around, and see what players/lanes need to be covered, and move there. It's harder to do in roller/inline hockey because there's only 4 players per team, and inline players normally don't have much organized hockey experience, meaning they don't know the game positionally very well.

If you're a defenseman, the best thing to do if you don't know what to do in your own zone, is just gravitate towards your own net. Just cover any lane or player around that area, your forwards should be covering the points. If the opposing player grabs the puck in a corner and has a hold of it, don't chase after him. Chances are he'll burn you and create a scoring opportunity. Just wave your stick around and try and deflect an attempted pass, and make sure you keep your body between the opposing player and the net. Keep your eyes on the player, not the puck, so he doesn't deke around you. If he tries to deke around you, swat your stick at the puck but keep your head up looking at him, so you know which direction he's going if he manages to hold onto the puck.

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05-04-2011, 03:06 PM
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Placebo Effect
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Pich?

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05-05-2011, 12:12 PM
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stupendousman
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Pich?
Yeah pich, tier 15 lol. You play as well?

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05-05-2011, 04:24 PM
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Placebo Effect
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Used to, I scorekeep now though. I'll sub for the odd team occasionally. What team are you? I just scorekept a few t15 games

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05-05-2011, 11:08 PM
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stupendousman
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Overall, the last couple of games has made me feel much more comfortable. I think beforehand I was just overaggressive in challenging the attacking forwards, whereas now I'll try to keep myself between the net and them, while angling them away.

Couple things I still need to work on would be keeping my head on a swivel, as well as getting used to the amount of time I have with the puck. I find I start to get slightly panicked sometimes.

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Used to, I scorekeep now though. I'll sub for the odd team occasionally. What team are you? I just scorekept a few t15 games
Harpooners, #4. I haven't really showed up on any scoresheets yet haha.

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05-06-2011, 12:12 AM
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hockeyman001
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Having played defense for one season (disclaimer: I am usually a winger) I can speak to this a bit. I'm usually a shooter, not a puckhandler, but as a defenseman I was a stay at home type so I can talk a little bit about it:

Quote:
Originally Posted by stupendousman View Post
My problem is that once the forwards are moving around and cycling, I tend to lose track of my positioning and just start to follow the puck.
Of course! That is exactly why the forwards cycle to begin with. The movement creates mismatches and blown coverage which (the offense hopes) allows for an easy scoring chance. That is why positioning is so important.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stupendousman View Post
Say an attacking player has the puck on the half-boards, and he beats my partner - should I engage him? Or should I leave that to my own forwards and stay by the crease to cut off the pass?
Even strength, as a defenseman you should never defend as far up as the half boards, unless you are skating backwards and the forward is carrying the puck on the rush. Once the offense has begun to try and set up you should be near the goal line at all times. A good general rule is this: Down low = defense responsibility, high slot and half boards = center responsibility, point men and half boards = wing responsibility.

If he is on the half boards and beats your partner, there are issues. Odds are your partner has overcommitted and one of the weak side (less crowded half of the ice) forwards is trying to get open behind you, even if you are guarding the crease, so if you leave your post to cover for your partner, a centering pass from the puck carrier will find your man and he may score.

If you are defending against the rush and he beats your partner by the half boards on an outside move, you will want to practice "gap control" which means stay far from the shooter, take away a passing lane (since there will be a forward skating up with the puck carrier), and position yourself so that if the attacker skates to the middle you can block his shot. Then let your goalie make the save (that's his job!)

Quote:
Or if the attacking player is cycling around the boards and he goes around the net. I've read somehwere online that the defencemen should switch? So if I'm in front of the net, I should engage the attacker once he rounds the net, and my partner switches to the position I just left.
This depends on your style and what works for you or what your team is doing. Some teams switch, some teams do not. Some teams are just for fun, and they don't take strategy quite so serious so it's rarely talked about. You can do either, so it is best to talk to your defense partner and work out what fits both of your skills best. Or, you can stand by the crease, and when you see your partner peel off the puck carrier to guard the crease, you can engage because you'll have time to meet him on the other side of the net before he can escape (basically read and react...read the play and react). The downside of switching is that if the puck carrier stops behind the net, no one will be guarding him so he has time to set up (that's OK if you cover all the other players). Also, in switching, the puck carrier may have a second to get off a quick pass while you change the guard in front of the net. However, the downside of not switching is that your partner can easily overcommit and get out of position if he ends up chasing the forward all the way around the corner and back to the half boards which means a forward will have to come low to help on defense (usually the center). You can also get outnumbered down low if a second forward goes behind the net (usually the forward you're guarding) and receives a reverse pass, because when you leave the slot to defend him, your partner will still be with the first player and the slot will be open.

Quote:
I don't want to stretch out this post, but there was a couple plays where my d partner and I were kind of lined up staggered, but one behind another. An attacker beat him so I went to defend the attacker and once he beat me and then went on to score, and the other he passed to another forward and then they nearly scored.
Ouch, sounds like your partner is causing some of your troubles But try to avoid lining up one behind the other. One of you plays left side, the other plays right. It is OK to be staggered but not OK to be on the same side of the ice. Remember "gap control" if the forward beats your partner badly, you can slide over behind him to assist but remember... take away the pass first (that's your job!) and let the goalie make the save. Just as you do so, stay in a position where you make it so the forward cannot cut across the middle for a better shot. But don't overcommit and try to take the puck away, let him come towards you and keep his angle down.

Quote:
I start to over-analyze how I played, then my confidence gets shot, and I start to play a bit worse and well....you get the idea.
That's one thing you definitely don't want to do. You want to think about how you play but not so much during the game. During the game you should be thinking "OK, he is there, so I go here" not asking yourself where you go. Practice will help. I wish you good luck as you learn more about playing defense, it is not so easy!


Last edited by hockeyman001: 05-06-2011 at 02:13 AM.
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05-06-2011, 12:18 AM
  #21
hockeyman001
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The only thing I'm still having troubles with is knowing when to turn while I'm skating backwards. I don't want to turn early only to have the attacker go the other way, but by the time I see the forward moving one way and I turn with him, I'm already a step or two behind. Is there some way I can work at this? Maybe leg strength training at the gym or something?
OK you are talking about defending against the rush now. You turn when the forward beats you with speed basically. If the forward tries to stickhandle past you, forget about the stick checks...continue skating backwards, get your hands up (do NOT hold or punch him, or you will get a penalty) and push against the forward and block him from passing you. odds are he will lose the puck or it will go in your feet and you can take it away or get it to the boards.

However IF the forward does beat you and gets inside or outside, turn the SECOND you know you're beat, get speed to catch up with him, and LEAN on him with your shoulder to the outside of the ice. You can slow him down this way since to skate he will also have to move your weight and it is not a penalty to do it. Just be sure not to hook or hold, again. Once you take away his speed it should be easy to take the puck too, or at least clear it to the boards.

But don't turn until you know for sure he's going to pass you, otherwise he can adjust as you said and turn the other way and you will be looking at the play the wrong way.

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05-06-2011, 04:37 PM
  #22
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Harpooners, #4. I haven't really showed up on any scoresheets yet haha.
heh, nice. Didn't do any of your games

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