Defensive Zone Coverage

In order to score goals, you need to get the puck into the offensive zone first, and that usually means getting it OUT of your own zone. In this article I have compiled a list of resources to help you learn better defensive zone coverage. This includes a collection of valuable pictures and videos from the hockey community. We cover the responsibilities of the wingers, centermen, and defensemen in the defensive zone.

The Fundamentals of Defensive Zone Coverage

The image below (from the Blue Seat Blog) is a great introduction to covering the defensive zone. What every player should understand is that everyone has a job. Too often we see a player who should be in the high support zone or net zone being sucked closer and closer to the hit zone. This leaves vulnerabilities in our coverage and gives players on the other team extra chances while also extending the time we have to play defense.

My rule for the defensive zone – Understand your job, and do it well. The image below will help you understand the fundamentals of defensive coverage. As the puck moves, the players jobs will change, and at times players can rotate and switch jobs, but keep your head on a swivel and check to make sure we don’t have 2 or 3 players doing the same job!

hockey-defensive-zone-coverage

One last tip – Just because you are in the right spot, does not mean you are doing the right thing! Once you are in position, you now have to perform a task (lift a stick, contain the puck carrier, take away a passing lane, etc). Be active while playing your position.

Defensive Zone Coverage for Wingers

The image below is from a more detailed breakdown into the wingers positioning in the defensive zone.

defensive-zone-coverage-wingers

This image is only showing the duties of the strong side winger, but also discusses different styles of wingers (a fast skater via good ice skate, or slower skater). The strong side refers to the side of the ice the puck is on. It is very important that the strong side winger is covering their point and when our team gets the puck is in position to assist in the breakout. For more information on playing wing you may enjoy the responsibilities of a winger in hockey and a more detailed look at the wingers job in the defensive zone. We have also included a great video below from our friends at Hockey Share.

Quick tips for the wingers in the defensive zone

Keep your head on a swivel and know where your point man is
When the other team has the puck, get in passing lanes to take away your check as an option
When on the strong side play hard on the puck, battle to make sure that puck clears the zone
Make sure you are in position for breakout passes with your stick on the ice and aware of the position of your players and the other players for a clean breakout
Don’t get sucked out of position, trust your team mates and be ready to do your job when the puck comes into your zone

Centermans role in the Defensive Zone

As a centerman your main duty is to offer support. You are the guy that helps out if a defencemen gets beat, or if there is an opportunity to win a battle by quickly jumping into the play. You should think of yourself as a 3rd defencemen.

center-defensive-zone-coverage

Your common responsibilities are to support the defense, jump in and help when help is needed, block passing lanes, and support the breakout. At times you will rotate jobs with the defencemen depending on the situation. Hockey Share comes through again with a great video explaining the centermens job in more detail

Defensemen Positioning in the Defensive zone

defense-in-defensive-zone-hockey

The image above explains the various jobs of the defensemen in the defensive zone. The most basic idea of playing defense is keep the puck away from the front of the net. You can do this by containing players to the outside, and blocking passing lanes into the center. A simple rule is to stay between the opponent with the puck and your net, if you can do this you will always be in good defensive position (just don’t give them too much time and space)

Here is the last video from Hockey Share explaining defensive zone coverage for defensemen

Looking for more videos on improving your defense?

We have already released a few videos to help you play better defense, in our defense 101 video we talk about using the markings to improve your positioning, and in our 1 on 1 video we show you how to play defense on a 1 on 1.

Breakouts

Breakouts are the final part to defensive zone coverage. This means that we have successfully gotten possession of the puck and are ready to break out of our zone. Covering this topic in detail may draw this article on a little bit too long so I will leave you with a post on the 5 breakout plays every hockey player should know. I will re-visit this topic at a later date here on The Hockey Movement with some more insight.And of course you can subscribe to receive updates on articles like this via email in the box to the right.

Shooting Progression Lesson for Hockey Players

Photo edited with http://www.tuxpi.com

Are you getting the most out of your shot? I don’t mean “can you shoot the puck?”. What I mean is do you know every specific motion that is involved with a good shot, and can you can fully utilize each area to get the most power?

Being able to lift the puck is good, but if you want to be dangerous every time you get close to the net you need to have a consistently hard and accurate shot.

In this lesson we have a 5 video series on improving your shot. Each video breaks down a specific part of the shot that you can focus on to get more power.

The Building Blocks of a Good Shot

Using the wrists

The wrists are the last joint used in your shot, but don’t forget to activate them. With a good wrist snap you can increase power and accuracy.

Getting “Snap” in your shot

When coaches talk about a snap in your shot, this is what they mean. I like to call it finishing your shot, using the push-pull motion, plus your wrists to get a good boost of speed at the end of your shot

Drawing the Puck back

You don’t always have time to use this method for power, but adding it to your arsenal will add more power. Watch the video to find out why.

Start every shot with the legs

Your legs are the most powerful muscles in your body, if you aren’t using them properly you will be limiting the amount of power you can generate in each shot, and also reducing the effectiveness of your weight transfer. Watch the video below to learn about using your legs to generate power in your shot

Using the hockey stick to generate power

The last piece of the puzzle for a complete shot is the hockey stick. The stick is actually a very big contributor to the amount of power you can generate on your shot. By flexing the stick you load it with potential energy, just waiting to be released into your shot. Find out more in the last video in our series on having a complete shot.

Flexing the hockey stick to get more power

Most hockey players know that it’s important to flex the stick during the slapshot in order to load the stick and get more power into the shot, however the same effect takes place with the wrist shot and snapshot. In this video and article I will explain how to flex the stick in every type of shot to help you get more power.

How Flexing the stick works

hockey stick flex shot

Why am I looking at a man in a skin tight banana hammock? Well you see, that diving board is a lot like the stick Stamkos has in his hands. In order for that diving board to propel you into the air, you first must push down on it. Just like Stamkos has to push into the middle of the stick, before he can get full advantage of the potential energy that gets stored into the stick.

By flexing the stick before the puck is released potential energy is stored in the stick
The stick flexes, and then recoils, launching the puck at the net

Pulling the Puck Back for Power

Scientific studies have been done about the wrist shot, and hockey obsessed people like me have read them. One interesting (and maybe somewhat obvious) point for producing power in your shot is contact time.

Contact time is the amount of time the puck is in contact with your stick blade from the beginning to the end of your shot. Studies show the more time the puck is on your blade during the shot, the more time you have to add more power to your shot. In comes our video on pulling the puck back.

Shooting Exercise

To get more power in your shot, grab about 20 pucks and practice pulling the puck back before you shoot. Pull it back to different spots, sometimes only a few inches, other times well behind your back foot. Work on different body positions as well.

Wrist Shot Training: Wrist Snaps

The Wristshot is the first shot that most hockey players learn, it is the most commonly used shot in all levels of hockey, the most accurate, and results in the most goals. In this series we are working on improving the wrist shot by focusing in on a number of “building blocks”.

Every week I will feature a new area of the shot that you can focus on. By practicing each of the exercises shown in the videos you will gain a deep understanding of how to get EVERYTHING out of your shot.

Using Your Wrists in the Wristshot

Getting “Snap” in your shot

Players might remember their coaches telling them to snap their wrists, or get more snap in their shot. This is essentially what they are talking about. Performing this closed-open-closed motion in the shot helps you get extra power and accuracy by using your wrists to gain more control of the puck.

How to Use this Drill

Get about 20 pucks
Shoot them while trying to only generate power from using the wrists (as shown in video)
Have your shoulder and chest facing the net so you are comfortable in different situations
repeat a few times per week until you can generate some good power with just your wrists