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Coach's Corner


How To Play Defence - One on One
Mar 28, 2012, 11:55 am

Defence One-on-One

1) Stay Between the Forward and the Net
2) Control The Gap
3) Watch Their Hips
4) Keep your Hockey Stick out in Front

1) Stay Between the Forward and the Net.
When learning how to play defence in Hockey, you can never go wrong with the basic principal of keeping yourself between the opposing player and the net. One-on-Ones are a perfect example.

Keep Him to the Outside

When a hockey player on the other team is heading into your zone with the ball, your goal is to keep him to the outside towards the boards. His chances of scoring from the outside are far less than if he beats you on the inside. The best way to do this is with your body position. If the player is coming in down the middle of the rink, position yourself directly in front of him.

Own the Centre Lane

If he’s coming in on the wing, line up slightly towards the centre of the rink. Your outside shoulder should more or less line up with his inside shoulder. This encourages him to try to beat you to the outside, where he’s less of a threat. Picture a wide imaginary lane down the middle of the rink, and keep the other player outside of that lane. The tricky part is controlling the amount of space, or the gap, between you and the other player.

2) Control the Gap
A Gap Too Wide will allow the forward to cut to the inside. Or, it may give him enough room to get in close to the goalie for a shot, using you as the screen. You don’t want the gap to be much wider than about two lengths of a hockey stick.

A Gap Too Narrow, and you run the risk of letting him get around you if you’re unable to check him.


3) Watch Their Hips
One-on-Ones in hockey can be tricky against an experienced ball carrier. These guys are just dying to deke you out and score that highlight reel goal. Watching their hips will help prevent you from getting deked-out in your own zone.

Mr. Deke
Once you’ve correctly positioned yourself between the opposing hockey player and the net, Mr. Deke will try to fake you out any way he can. As you know, Mr. Deke has a hockey bag full of tricks.

Don’t Stare at the Ball

The best hockey tip I’ve been given on this is to watch his hips as he’s coming in on you. An experienced forward will try to fake you out with the ball, his head, his shoulders, a change of speed, or anything else he’s got up his sleeve. If you focus on his chest or the crest on his jersey, he may even deke you with his entire upper body. The worst thing you can do is watch the ball. Keep the ball in your peripheral vision, but don’t stare down at it.

The Hips Don’t Lie

He is not going anywhere without his hips, so keep your eyes on them. A hip can’t be dropped like a shoulder, or quickly dart around like a head-fake. With your eyes at waist level, it also makes it a little easier to keep the ball within your peripheral vision. Watch their hips, not the ball.

4)  Keep your Stick out in Front
Keep your stick on the rink out in front of you, with one hand on the stick. Not in the air, not off to the side. Pointing your stick at the hockey player coming in allows you the flexibility of swinging it towards whichever side he tries to go around you.

Be Patient

Let the forward make the first move, then react to it. If you lunge at the ball and miss, you could find yourself right out of the play.


If you notice the forward is having trouble with the ball, that’s the time to try a poke-check. Otherwise, just keep your stick out in front and be ready when he makes his move.

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