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Playing "down" to your opponents

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Old
12-15-2008, 10:33 PM
  #1
noobman
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Playing "down" to your opponents

Hi all,

First I'd like to say thanks for all of the advice and ongoing support. I've learned a lot of stuff here that's really helped me take my game to the next level.

The next big issue I'm facing as a player is the problem of "playing down" to the level that the game is played at. I play in two separate leagues, and in the faster, more competitive league I'm really quick on the ice and creating all sorts of chances/getting good opportunities myself.

So in theory, I should be just as quick and even more effective in the less competitive, slower league, right? Wrong. I find that my game suddenly slows down to their level, and my play actually gets worse to the point where I look just as good, if not slightly worse than I do in the more competitive league.

I figure that this problem is 100% mental. As some of you may remember from my "keeping your cool" thread, my head isn't always where it needs to be (though for the past three weeks or so I haven't taken a bad penalty). Does anybody have some tips/tricks/advice for dealing with this?

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12-15-2008, 10:52 PM
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sbkbghockey
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Yeah I have that problem sometimes too. I play ACHA college hockey but also play in a men's league with a few of my best friends and for more icetime (you can never have too much lol). I find myself playing slower and not pulling the moves I usually do, I think some of it is that many of the other players aren't used to the plays, or formal hockey strategies. It's hard to be the only one playing at a high level.

Another thing is that when I'm the only one playing at a high level I get 3 guys on me all the time and hacking and slashing my ankles and legs, I think I drop down because subconsciously I don't want to get injured in a beer league game and hurt my college team by not playing.

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12-15-2008, 11:26 PM
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Yeah, that's a tough one.

As someone that has played 15+ years of hockey, I've played in a few shinny games with very raw beginners, as organizers assessed our skill level, and those can be pretty frustrating.

I had the same line of thought; I should be dominating these guys. But it doesn't always work like that. When you have 10 guys on 10 different pages, it just doesn't work. I'm used to break-outs and forechecking while others are still learning positioning. That's the way she goes sometimes. I don't think there's too much you can do about it.

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12-16-2008, 02:16 AM
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Coming from a very very green beginner (6 months of roller, starting first Adult Ice League in May) I can say that I'm almost grateful this effect happens to players of a higher caliber. The first few times on skates playing with a group of people that have been playing both street and ice for quite a while was super frustrating. Not seeing the ball/puck very often and when you do usually screwing up and feeling bad about it; its nice not having good players down your throat stealing the puck every time, deke-ing you 'till you fall. Rather embarrassing.

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12-16-2008, 03:23 AM
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I've found it to be a big problem playing goal. In the higher divisions, you get used to fast slapshots, hard wristers, and good one-timers.

Subbing in for lower divisions, I'll be expecting these fast shots and quick plays... but they aren't there. It makes reading plays and following shots difficult. Simply put, I'll be too fast. I'll be making butterfly slides too far, swinging my trapper hand right past the puck, making poke checks before the opponent gets there. It's stupidly frustrating.

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12-16-2008, 06:26 AM
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Same exact problem, I can't fix it either. Heh.

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12-16-2008, 11:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noobman View Post
I figure that this problem is 100% mental. As some of you may remember from my "keeping your cool" thread, my head isn't always where it needs to be (though for the past three weeks or so I haven't taken a bad penalty). Does anybody have some tips/tricks/advice for dealing with this?
Ok, first of all, I take it you are play down because you want more ice time...is that correct? Or are you there to help lesser skilled player to come up to your level?

Is it true that we play to the level of play? Yes! Let look at the NHL season. Some of you guys sit in the stands and watch these guys night after night and say; "He**, I could hold with these guys, I'm just as good as they are!"

Then you get to play off season and you say; "Holly sh** these guys are fast, thank god I didn't go make a fool out of myself by asking for a walk on!"

The reason why we play down to the level of play is because we are trying to puck support the puck carrier. If the puck carrier (ankle bender) passes you the puck and you turn it on to your competitive level, you leave the "ankle bender" behind and then who's going to puck support you? No one! In fact, you might be called a "Puck Hog" for not passing.

So, you play down to the "ankle bender" level so he can support you. When he tries to pass and it goes behind you and now you find yourself up against the boards getting your a** kicked or squeezed out of the play. So, you then adjust your speed, to puck support the bad pass, and the cycle continues.

So how do you fix that? Well, in your competitive league, if you want to get by a defensemen, you place that defensemen in a two on one situation where it forces the defensemen to second guess.

In your bender league, get teamed up with a line mate that will puck support you and place the bender on the line as the third wheel. This will force the bender to come up to your play.

If you can't find a team mate that will puck support you, then maybe it time for you to go back and play defense. Playing defense at any level is kind of like playing with yourself. (yes, I know that this doesn't sound right). But hear me out.

If you play defense, you have to mirror each other in order for you to be an effective defensive unit. If he skates backwards, you skate backwards. If you cross over into his lane, he crosses over into your lane. If you go into the corner to get the puck, he drops down below the goal line to support you.

In hockey, there is primarily three seperate units: Forward Unit, Defensive Pair and Goalie. Each unit works independently from each other, but as a group or line. How you pass the puck from unit to unit will determine you success in the win / lose column.

So, if you pair up with someone of your caliber as a forward or defense, you will have a better chance to keep your game high and not playing down to that level.

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12-16-2008, 02:42 PM
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I play defence in a coed league and was recently beaten 1 on 1 by a pretty decent player...the next shift I put him into the boards. I find I play alittle lazier, if i jump into the rush I don't always hussle back The way I would in my mens league

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12-16-2008, 05:37 PM
  #9
predfan24
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I have this same exact problem. I have learned to slow down and play within the context of the game. It makes the game alot more fun for the other team and your teammates. As others have suggested just play Defense and play within the game and not above everybody else's skill level.

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Old
12-16-2008, 06:01 PM
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SJGoalie32
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Have the same problem as densetsu being a goalie.

-Come out to cut down the angle because I see my defender is draped all over the guy near the crease, opposing forward gets the puck anyway for an easy tap in.
-Slide across the crease to stop a cross-ice one timer......I'm already past the net, while the guy is still trying to control the puck. By the time he settles it, none of my defenders have gotten there and I'm already out of position.
-Shot through traffic, acts as a change-up and goes to a different location than I expect. My quick reaction glove save attempt looks like a baseball batter swinging through a slow pitch.
-Guy comes in on a breakaway, makes his deke move, and I go sliding past because he's moving so slowly that he has time to cut it back across the slot.
-Slap shot off my leg pads, instinctually try to kick it wide. Unfortunately there isn't enough force on the shot to ricochet away from the slot. Rebound just sits right in front of the crease.

At the same time, if you slow your game down too much, then the other team starts beating you with even marginally well-placed shots.

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Old
12-16-2008, 06:15 PM
  #11
SJGoalie32
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As for the forwards, offensive strength comes in numbers.

Bringing the puck into the zone in a 3-on-2 is a good advantage for the attacking team. If you skate faster than your linemates, you quickly find yourself in a 1-on-2 disadvantage.

Even the best players need good linemates. In a lower league, you have nobody to pass it to you. In a 2-on-1 break, all the defenders will simply focus on you, and the guy carrying the puck probably can't get it to you anyway. You can't get assists if your teammates can't get open. In my co-ed league, if I pass it back cleanly to the point there is a 50/50 chance the defenseman will miss the puck and result in a breakaway against.

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12-16-2008, 06:56 PM
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SJGoalie32 View Post
Even the best players need good linemates.

In a 2-on-1 break, all the defenders will simply focus on you, and the guy carrying the puck probably can't get it to you anyway.
Interesting you should say this. If you come in on a 3 on 2, as you know, the best scoring chances are when two players rush the net and one play stays high. Thus you have a shooting triangle which adds depth and width to your attack.

I have found that if you are coming into the zone in a 2 on 1, if you treat the attack like you are coming in on a 3 on 2, you will have better sucess at getting a quality shot off. Example....

If you are coming in 2 on 1 and one team mate goes to the out side and the other stays high, this forces the defensemen to be more concern about the shot from the high man because he know that the low man has a lower percentage scoring shot because of the angle.

But, If you place that second man high, it kind of forces the defensemen to stay on his feet to help guard against that pass. By playing one man high and one man low along the side, it still adds depth and width to the attack.

However, If you come into the attacking zone where both of you are set a side of equal distance from the defensemen, the odds are in the defensemens favor of intercepting the pass or blocking the pass.

And oh, if you are the defensemen and you lay down to block the pass as you skate backwards....don't get up if it's under you. Just wait for the whistle, then get up.

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Old
12-16-2008, 08:00 PM
  #13
SJGoalie32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Headcoach View Post
Interesting you should say this. If you come in on a 3 on 2, as you know, the best scoring chances are when two players rush the net and one play stays high. Thus you have a shooting triangle which adds depth and width to your attack.

I have found that if you are coming into the zone in a 2 on 1, if you treat the attack like you are coming in on a 3 on 2, you will have better sucess at getting a quality shot off. Example....

If you are coming in 2 on 1 and one team mate goes to the out side and the other stays high, this forces the defensemen to be more concern about the shot from the high man because he know that the low man has a lower percentage scoring shot because of the angle.

But, If you place that second man high, it kind of forces the defensemen to stay on his feet to help guard against that pass. By playing one man high and one man low along the side, it still adds depth and width to the attack.
Yes, that's all well and good, but then you pass the puck to your wide open teammates' stick and it hops right over it anyway.

Joe Thornton is a god-like passer. If JT passes the puck anywhere within a 10 foot radius of Patrick Marleau, Marleau will quickly control it and make a play on it. If Thornton himself came down to play in our low-level co-ed league, he could make a clean, crisp, wide-open, perfect pass onto the tape of my wife's stick......and it would just be a turnover. She might even get her stick on the puck.

One of my teammates asked if I thought we should all chip in to rent ice time so that we could work on breakout plays and stuff. Extra ice time for practice is never a bad idea, but at the same time I also pointed out that we need to work on a lot more things before breakouts and triangle drills. What you wrote is a solid strategic formation for an odd-man rush.....but first, I'd like to see them not swing, miss, and fall down when trying to clear a stationary puck while under no pressure. Heck, you're talking about when a defender should lay out to block a pass in a 2-on-1....I'd love to see my team's defensemen just not fall down while skating backwards, period. Or for the forwards to even just learn to clear the zone on a delayed offside.

And that is the crux of the matter in this thread, and where I sympathize with the original post. I know there are different levels of play, and most aren't THAT low, but I've seen this phenomenon at all levels:
A higher-level player passes a puck to a player who can't receive it.
A higher-level player passes a puck to where he expects his winger to be, only to find no one there.
A higher-level defender leaves an opposing forward expecting a teammate to see that and shift over and pick up the man, only to result in a goal against.
A higher-level defender pinches in expecting someone to slide over and cover his spot, only to lead to a breakaway against.
A higher-level forward finds a perfect scoring seam in the slot, only nobody else on his team is talented enough to find him or get him the puck.
A higher-level defender skates the puck out from behind his net, looks up for a breakout pass, and sees all his forwards just standing still and not getting open.

If one player has skills and experience above and beyond that of his teammates, the talent disparity can frequently lead to problems as well as benefits for both the team and the player. The problems usually don't outweigh the benefits, of course, and teams do obviously improve on the whole with better players.

But in my experience, the end result is that the game of the individual player is often lowered more than the team's game is raised.

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12-16-2008, 08:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SJGoalie32 View Post
And that is the crux of the matter in this thread, and where I sympathize with the original post. I know there are different levels of play, and most aren't THAT low, but I've seen this phenomenon at all levels:
A higher-level player passes a puck to a player who can't receive it.
A higher-level player passes a puck to where he expects his winger to be, only to find no one there.
A higher-level defender leaves an opposing forward expecting a teammate to see that and shift over and pick up the man, only to result in a goal against.
A higher-level defender pinches in expecting someone to slide over and cover his spot, only to lead to a breakaway against.
A higher-level forward finds a perfect scoring seam in the slot, only nobody else on his team is talented enough to find him or get him the puck.
A higher-level defender skates the puck out from behind his net, looks up for a breakout pass, and sees all his forwards just standing still and not getting open.
About half the problems you're describing there aren't even related to on ice skill, but to positioning. That's something that I have to think could be fixed even without ice time, but just by watching the game and studying it more.

I will admit, I am a complete and total beginner (only been playing for two weeks), but when I played open hockey the other night I had a few people tell me my positioning was very good. That said, if I was wide open for a pass I probably couldn't have received it cleanly, and on defense I was more of a pylon than an active participant, but at least I was in the right spots (though I felt a lot more confident about my positioning in the defensive zone, rather clueless once I crossed the redline - perhaps that's related to me being a Devils fan?). That clearly has nothing to do with experience, but just knowing hockey.

I have no idea how much your teammates watch hockey, but perhaps you could suggest to them that they spend some more time watching hockey and studying the positioning?

Anyway, like I said I'm a complete newbie when it comes to playing, but there's my two cents.

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12-16-2008, 08:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SJGoalie32 View Post
Heck, you're talking about when a defender should lay out to block a pass in a 2-on-1....I'd love to see my team's defensemen just not fall down while skating backwards, period. Or for the forwards to even just learn to clear the zone on a delayed offside.


But in my experience, the end result is that the game of the individual player is often lowered more than the team's game is raised.
I feel you pain. I know what you mean. Here, at the rink I run, I have developed a men's beer league. Got myself a liquor license and serve 16 oz MGD's and Miller Light. Plus, I have a beer league program with a range of "A" Caliber players mixed up with players that skate two feet past the blue line on an off side.

I am thinking about offering a training program that will allow players to pay an extra couple of bucks and to a skills development program every week to teach them the basics.

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Old
12-17-2008, 10:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DevilsFan38 View Post
About half the problems you're describing there aren't even related to on ice skill, but to positioning. That's something that I have to think could be fixed even without ice time, but just by watching the game and studying it more.

I will admit, I am a complete and total beginner (only been playing for two weeks), but when I played open hockey the other night I had a few people tell me my positioning was very good. That said, if I was wide open for a pass I probably couldn't have received it cleanly, and on defense I was more of a pylon than an active participant, but at least I was in the right spots (though I felt a lot more confident about my positioning in the defensive zone, rather clueless once I crossed the redline - perhaps that's related to me being a Devils fan?). That clearly has nothing to do with experience, but just knowing hockey.

I have no idea how much your teammates watch hockey, but perhaps you could suggest to them that they spend some more time watching hockey and studying the positioning?

Anyway, like I said I'm a complete newbie when it comes to playing, but there's my two cents.
Sometimes you get used to linemates that play a certain way.

For example, my teammates know that I can always be found at the top of the right faceoff circle or in front of the net. When you get that kind of chemistry, you tend to start cheating and making passes without looking. They usually end up going tape-to-tape because you're used to it.

I also find that I occasionally put the puck a little too far in front of certain people, either because they're shorter and lack the reach of some of my other linemates, or because they don't accelerate as quickly to get the puck on the blade of their stick.

I'm also a slap-passer, in that I'll pass the puck really hard towards a teammate's blade, and hope that it deflects off and bounces in. With certain players that puck redirects towards the net, and with others that try to cradle it the puck just goes past them and creates a turnover (which is why I shoot at the net more in lower level leagues).



Based on what everybody has said, I'm starting to think that I should demand the puck more often and try to control the pace of the game myself.

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Old
12-17-2008, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noobman View Post
I'm also a slap-passer, in that I'll pass the puck really hard towards a teammate's blade, and hope that it deflects off and bounces in. With certain players that puck redirects towards the net, and with others that try to cradle it the puck just goes past them and creates a turnover (which is why I shoot at the net more in lower level leagues). Based on what everybody has said, I'm starting to think that I should demand the puck more often and try to control the pace of the game myself.

Control the puck more...maybe. Set the pace....yes! However, I recommend that you tactfully help players on the bench or in the dressing room. It should sound something like this....

You know, there's this guy on the hockey forum that I belong too, says....

If you place two hands on your stick while the puck is coming to you. And, If you add pressure or just a little weight to the stick when the puck comes, the puck will lock in place when it hit your blade. The only thing you need to do is make sure the the angle of the blade is perpendicular to the approach of the puck. You should check out the forum, they have a lot of coaching tips that could help you with your game....or not.

This way you don't look like a big dic* he*d try to control everything. Trust me, I know. The minute you start telling people what to do to help their game, they all freak out.

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12-17-2008, 06:23 PM
  #18
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goaltending and playing down....

If you play down on a regular basis, your harming your A game. There are no if, ands, or butts about it. While it is added ice and it can be fun as well as frustrating, it is also having a negative impact on your top game. I will not allow my youngest to play goal for his HS team for this reason. He is obligated to provide the best skills he can muster for his Tier I team. If he wants to play out for HS, fine.

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