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Switching from Forward to Defense

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Old
10-17-2011, 11:06 AM
  #1
CornKicker
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Switching from Forward to Defense

I am almost 30 years old and have played forward for the 25yrs i have played hockey. i have decided i am going to give playing defence a try and really after all these years i dont have a clue how to play defence. I am a good skater so i am not to worried about that i am more worried about when to pinch, which guy to take, when to close gaps, when to stear wide, when to block shots when to transition from front of the net to the corner etc etc. i have the ability to think the game i just dont know the answers.

any help or suggestions would be awesome


Last edited by Jarick: 01-27-2012 at 02:44 PM.
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10-17-2011, 04:26 PM
  #2
ATLhockey437
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I've played defense my whole life and have only seen the game from the blue line so I may say some things you already know but just in case you don't, Ill try to help.

When an opponent is skating in on you on the wings, always stare at the chest and never look down at the puck. Try to keep the gap within stick length. When they're coming down the wings, lining up the shoulders is crucial for gap control. From your point of view, if he is trying to beat you wide coming down the LW, line up your left shoulder with his (will look like his right shoulder from your view) and if it's the RW, line up your right shoulder with his.

This will eliminate any opportunity from him beating you down the middle thus forcing him to continue to go wide to the corners. The shoulder lining I mentioned will also help you not get smoked when you decide to pivot and step up. Always pivot facing your opponent when you decide to step up if he takes it wide.

For pinching; never pinch if one of your forwards is behind the net on the weak side of the play. If one of your forwards isn't in the high slot, don't pinch. If 2/3 of the forwards are between the lower side of the hashmarks and goal line don't pinch.

The art of pinching relies on chemistry with the the rest of your line. Chemistry with your D partner is crucial. If you decide to pinch, trust that your partner is prepared to back out and remain in the middle of the ice and vice versa if he decides to pinch. Imagine there's a rope between you and your partner and always try to keep it taunt. If you know your forwards will back check incase your pinch doesn't work, take the gamble but be aware of where the forwards are at and if it is near the end of a shift.

When in your own zone, if the puck is in the corner on your side, don't leave the front of the net until you know your partner has the net covered. If the puck is on your side of the rink, never chase above the top of the faceoff circle and say if it's in the corner, stick with him until he skates behind the net to the other side in which you then go to cover the net and your partner attacks him in the other corner. When covering the front of the net, always keep your head on a swivel and stick on stick to block passing lanes. I always like to be constantly stick checking the person in front of the net (even if the puck is no where near them), it's annoying to them and takes their focus off of shifting around to get in an open passing lane.

I know this was very long but I hope this helps, this is my preference of playing so it's not the exact way but I feel like majority of fellow defenders will agree. However I consider myself more of a puck moving offensive d-man so stay at home shut down defenders may have different opinions.

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10-18-2011, 09:42 AM
  #3
hockeyisforeveryone
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ATLhockey your advice is great. I would love to hear more of your (or ther d-men) thoughts. I am also learning defense later in life and there is a lot to think about!

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10-18-2011, 11:29 AM
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That is good advice from ATLhockey.

I'd also suggest- as someone who played forward growing up only to drop back in beer leagues- that pinching can be done at all 3 lines: not just the offensive blue line. It's a good time to close the gap on a puck carrier as it can either force icing or an offside.

If I can suggest something different from ATLhockey without disagreeing, I find it easier to stick with the puck carrier in the defensive zone, rather than have my partner take him once he gets to the other side of the net. I find this eliminates confusion when switching marks- but means that you'll have to cover the other side of the ice in the meantime.

Always stay between your man and the net.

Once you get a feel for D, and you trust your partner, one of my favourite ways to force the issue on a 3 on 2 against is have the far-side D cross sides and take the puck carrier once they hit the blue line. That way he can turn and skate the guy into the corner, and the near side D can drift to the middle of the ice to intercept a pass.

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10-18-2011, 03:02 PM
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If you've played forward it is pretty similar in skill and hockey sense like winning battles, intercepting passes, etc. Instinct takes over most the time to do whatever it takes to discourage the oppositions attack.

A few things I've experienced, correct me if I'm wrong-

It's important to time your check on a forward trying to enter the zone. It should be around the blue line, you don't want to back up too far and allow a close shot. DO NOT watch the puck you will get burned. Watch the chest and stay with them. Even in the beer leauge you can get in the way with a little contact.

In a corner I try to rush the opposition aggressively to take the puck or cause an errant pass. Giving them time while waving the stick is too soft IMO.

I will keep an eye on a open player in front of my net, not too close, kind of wanting them to get a pass I can steal or break up.

I notice as a D I may not always take control of the puck but bust up a lot of plays in the neutal and defensive zone. It seems like I poke-check 100 times a game as D

One thing is always get yourself open as an outlet for your partner, whether behind/around the net or breaking out of the zone.

I wish there was a sticky for all the "defense" threads here at the rink. Could probably write a book from all the tips.

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Old
10-19-2011, 01:16 AM
  #6
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You're getting good advice here, but you will only learn by trial & error and will probably make some mistakes. Probably a lot of mistakes.

When you move from forward to defense, it's like you are playing a whole different sport. Well, almost.

When I fist started playing, I wanted to play D but they wouldn't let me because they said, "you need to be a good skater forward, backwards & laterally to play D". I thought I was good, but my backwards stride was slow.

I used it as a challenge and went to public skating sessions to work on defensive-specific skating and it helped a lot. I can't stress how different your skating will be when you compare it to the way you have skated as a forward. If you already are or become a good skater, you will be a good defenseman.

You need to learn when to make your move, how to guide a player to the outside, whether it is beneficial to block a shot or not, wheteher to go down or not, lay your stick across the ice to block a pass etc. The only way you will learn how to do these things is by actually playing and seeing what you feel comfortable with and by asking a fellow Dman.

Most people who I see who play defense are just forwards who get pushed back to D and have no idea what they are doing and always vacate the point and I am stuck being the only person playing D.

I guess it's who you play with.

Good luck. Playing D is so f'ing awesome. I would NEVER go back to forward.

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10-19-2011, 11:34 AM
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I'm open to playing any position on the ice; but definitely love to play defense if given the choice. Although I'm not by any means a seasoned beer league defensman, here's my small bits of advice.

Keep your stick on the ice
Be real vocal with your defensive partner
Listen to your goalie in regards his/her visibility
Protect yourself when blocking shots
Play your man and not the puck

Hopefully this helps and best of luck with your new position

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10-20-2011, 11:35 AM
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i appreciate all the info for sure, first game is tomorrow night, well first game on D, played the first 2 on fwd as we were missing guys. i'll update how it goes tonight


another question - i have a bit of a wild shot, i can control it 7/10 times but the 3 i dont it sails. if i get a one timer or a loose puck is it fair game to just let the clap go or should i be cautious of people in front and let off a bit? for the forwards perspective i get hit with shots probably every 2nd game so my instinct is just clap, but if thats a no no i should know before someone gets a stinger in the shoulders.

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10-20-2011, 12:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CornKicker View Post
if i get a one timer or a loose puck is it fair game to just let the clap go or should i be cautious of people in front and let off a bit?
F them. If you have a relatively clear, open shot, go for it. Shoot it wide intentionally and have your forwards go for the rebound off the boards. Or maybe try a wrister instead.

Don't think too much. It will affect your game. Go by you first instinct.

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10-20-2011, 12:38 PM
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yeah i dont think i would treat it any different than a normal shot in the slot, full clap all day, i'd rather hit a player hard then pansy a bit and be called muffin shots after i misfire.

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10-20-2011, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by CornKicker View Post
yeah i dont think i would treat it any different than a normal shot in the slot, full clap all day, i'd rather hit a player hard then pansy a bit and be called muffin shots after i misfire.
From what I have personally noticed, people who move to play defense for the first time either like it or never want to play the position again. There seems to be no middle ground.

Even the conversations and talk is so much different on the far end of the bench. The camaraderie is much better than when you are sitting on the other side with your fellow forwards. I think it's because of the bonding with your defensive partner as opposed to a forward line made of up 3 players.

Good luck.

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10-20-2011, 12:59 PM
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hockeyisforeveryone
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CornKicker View Post
if i get a one timer or a loose puck is it fair game to just let the clap go or should i be cautious of people in front and let off a bit?
Some would say let it go but not me. Practice keeping the puck just off the ice, for the sake of respect to your players and the opponents. What if a wild slapshot hits someone directly in the face? Is it worth it? Many times it is not the strength of a shot that gets it through to the net, it's more timing and accuracy.

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10-20-2011, 07:46 PM
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Get yourself a good partner to help you out with positioning and talk to your goalie. You need good communication with both of them to be successful and life will be so much better when you make your goalie happy.

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10-21-2011, 01:18 PM
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When someone is coming down 1 on 1 against you keep your stick close to your body, then when he gets close or tries to make a move poke check him. This is the simplest thing that I see so many other D not doing.

Most D tend to have their stick extended out, but this just lets the forward know how far your reach is and how far away he needs to stay away from you, you also cant poke check that way. So keep your stick in and then when he gets close enough (cause he will think he has more room then he actually does) quickly poke check him. Easy and effective.


Also try not to blame your self for every goal scored against you when your on the ice. I know when I play I feel like its my fault if the other team scores, even if it was a mistake from one of the team mates.

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10-24-2011, 02:38 PM
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so my seasonal debut on d has been pushed back again as we were short fwds for the 4th game in a row. we do have some guy on our team this year (friend of a friend) and he "plays" d and he blows, bad. poor poor decision making and cant skate forward or back. It is comfoting knowing that i can play better than him with one leg as at least i can skate. i played a bit of d but only on the PP last game as one of our guys was in teh box. i like seeing the whole ice and being at teh point in the Offensive zone. anyway i will update this once i actually get to play a full game.

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10-31-2011, 12:07 PM
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played my first game on d last night, not bad +1 and 2 assists. the forwards were loving it as i got breakout passes out quick and on the stick. got beat wide once and made a bad pinch that cost a goal, to my defence the puck took a weird bounce, if it didnt i wouldnt have had it go by me. only got 2 clean shots off, one was deflected wide and the other was a PP onetimer that went high and wide. the puck musta been a bit in front of me the way it came off the stick. so far so good.

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Old
10-31-2011, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muttley View Post
From what I have personally noticed, people who move to play defense for the first time either like it or never want to play the position again. There seems to be no middle ground.

Even the conversations and talk is so much different on the far end of the bench. The camaraderie is much better than when you are sitting on the other side with your fellow forwards. I think it's because of the bonding with your defensive partner as opposed to a forward line made of up 3 players.

Good luck.
Definitely. Plus in lower levels that have high scoring the forwards are typically pretty lazy defensively and defensemen have to do a lion's share of the work in 2.5 zones, and get all the criticism when you get scored on... I had the same defence partner for 3 seasons in Midget Houseleague and we grew really close that way. By the end of the first season we didn't need to say anything to each other on the ice because we knew what the other was doing pretty much all the time.

Being just a pairing and getting to play lots is a really great experience. My Juvenile (18 year old) season I had a 15 year old defence partner and it was a lot of fun being able to show him the ropes and ease a new guy into the league.

Also CornKicker as for your shot, definitely try to do more than slap shots from the point. Yeah they're fun and they hit hard, but as mentioned before there's the safety thing. Plus, I've found in my experience that only the guys with the best slap shots can get them off consistently. Too much risk of it missing or ending up in someone's shin.

My advice would be to pick safer options more often than not if you want consistent effectiveness. When you get the puck at the point, skate a little and buy time for yourself. Look for open players... Maybe your d partner. If there's a winger bearing down on you, fire the puck into one of the corners, or if there's a lane, take a quick wrist shot on net. I find the shots that are about 3-8 inches off the ice are the most effective - they often get deflected and can be tipped by your own forwards.

I was a stay at home D, so my mindset was always do the safest play, so it may not work for you. But dumping the puck into the corners and letting your forwards cycle down low and work to the net can be a great strategy since it can open up the point later for a slap shot or wear down the opponents a lot for easy goals.

Also, if you for whatever reason lose the puck and your team has to clear the zone, fire the damn thing back in there instead of holding onto it - 9/10 times it ends up in a turnover otherwise.

In the defensive end, most of the best tips have been covered, then it's really just up to you. If Im 1v1 down low, I always leave the guy and go back to the front of my net if he crosses to my partner's side of the ice, but make sure you communicate that with your partner and see if it's okay. If you have a plan, it'll be instinctive and you can cover your weak areas regardless of the situation.

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11-01-2011, 04:58 PM
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I've been switching between the two a bit. I can only play defense in levels a lot lower than my normal skillset --- I'm not a very good defender. Here's my tip: Physical mistakes will be forgiven by the team more than mental ones.

Getting smoked 1:1 skating backwards. Fine, screw ringers.
Trying to poke-check a guy at their blue-line when you're last man back? Not so cool.

Getting muscled off the puck for a bad turnover? It happens.
Trying to pull 3 dekes in your own slot? Stop it.

Trying to clear a screen and having the puck go off your skate an in? Bad luck.
Pumping 3 slappers into winger's shins that all go for breakaways? You're the goat.

On the offensive side:
Make sure your shots get through. If you can get shots through, your forwards will feed you a lot more pucks. After 1 or 2 shots go off shins for breakaways, that puck won't voluntarily come higher than the faceoff dots.

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11-01-2011, 05:43 PM
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^ such a good post

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11-02-2011, 08:30 AM
  #20
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hhahaaha thanks dude,

so the guy i played with sunday asked to play with me again, he said he could see us working out really well (i think it because he doesnt want to play with the really crappy guy that cant skate but oh well). next game is sunday so hopefully i can eliminate my timing lapses and be better.

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11-02-2011, 05:01 PM
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Some advice I have:

Don't be afraid to slow the game down, take that extra second or two and THINK, always take a 360 look when going to get the puck.

When you're on the point in the O zone, and an opponent is skating hard at you, don't be afraid to just stand there and make him think that you're about to shoot, 9/10 times the forward will curl, and then you will have miles of free space, that 1/10 times they don't curl, just dump it in.

Use your partner, passing laterally on the breakout can open up the play so much it's ridiculous.

In front of the net, the rules are a lot less strict, don't be afraid to let the other team know that they better the **** out of the crease!

If the forwards aren't passing to you when you're wide open on the point, go over to them during a stoppage and tell them.

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Old
11-02-2011, 11:20 PM
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I have made the switch from game to game but mostly play forward when we have all our guys. Now I just fill in as the next available defensemen when we are missing any regulars.

The may difference is thinking the game through a lot more and keeping it simple. Watch random hockey games on TV and just pay attention to what the defensemen do in the various situations.

Play pickup if you can and volunteer to play D to practice the more high-risk plays because if you get burned, it's pickup so it doesn't matter. Plus, you can use those plays to find what you did right or wrong and apply it to games.

Pay attention to the other teams forwards early in the game if you are unfamiliar with them. Pay attention to how aggressive they are on the breakout and whether they have any cherry-pickers. This will also help you figure out a lot quicker if any of the forwards are faster than others, stick handle more, have a shot, etc. so you aren't caught off guard.

Talk to your D partner and let him know what you like to do or plan to do (Jump in more often, hang back, etc.) and vice versa. This helps prevent breakaways and confusion.

Talk to the guys that have played D for a while and to your goalie in between plays and on the bench. Ask questions and ask for advice. This not only shows you are trying to get better, but are aware of the learning process so your mistakes (they will happen and we all make them) will come off as growing pains.

Don't beat yourself up over the mistakes. Think about what you should have done and be aware of the play so next time you can make a better decision. The same mistakes over and over are the ones that are the most frustrating, not the ones from learning something new.

That's what I have so far from my couple months of switching back and forth. Keep at it as it has its benefits. I like seeing the whole ice and controlling the breakout. Plus, when I play forward, I get a better idea of where my D is looking for me to be as well as read the overall play better.

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11-04-2011, 12:27 PM
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Where is your team looking? Look somewhere else.

As awkwardly phrased as that is, it will wind up being very important. Oftentimes when the puck goes into the corner and your defense partner is going in, or the puck goes out to the point on a pass an entire team will follow the puck. I can guarantee you there will be one of their guys sneaking around through the back door or standing open in the slot with nobody guarding him. I'd compare this to when a color commentator breaks down a play and uses the phrase, "Get caught staring" or, "Get caught watching the puck" when referring to the defending team.

If the puck ever springs loose or gets passed like that, look around you for open players around your net. Not the puck or the player with it.

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11-04-2011, 01:04 PM
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What the hell do I do in front of the net? A lot of the time I'll have body position on a guy or I'll have him fronted, but he'll always bang in an errand rebound. Am I really just supposed to goon the guy and lock his stick up??

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11-04-2011, 02:27 PM
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What the hell do I do in front of the net? A lot of the time I'll have body position on a guy or I'll have him fronted, but he'll always bang in an errand rebound. Am I really just supposed to goon the guy and lock his stick up??
Yes.



Feel bad, hit one of my teammates in the leg from a point shot last night.

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