Four Tips for Hockey Defensemen to Improve Their SkillsDecember 9, 2019
Playing the position of hockey defenseman is a challenging task, but when you're good and solid, you'll always be an integral part of any team's success. Additionally, hockey defensemen are especially known, when they're good, for being captains of their teams and respected among all their fellow players. So how do you play the position effectively? What separates flimsy defense from solid defense? Simply put, the first and fundamental rule dictating the play of a hockey defenseman should always be, of course, don't allow goals.
Your number one role, it goes without saying, is to defend. So keep your head up, awareness is the hockey defenseman's most important attribute. Always watch the puck and what's happening in play.
Listen to your goalie. Your goalie will often see things you don't, and your goalie knows what he needs to succeed and knows what's not quite working. If your goalie thinks the opposing team is rushing a certain way, hear him out, and plug that hole.
Going hand in hand with listening to your goalie, another thing you have to do is protect your goalie. As a hockey defenseman, if the opposing team is crashing your goalie or getting in his face, it's your job to crash them, and get in their face. Be mindful of penalties obviously, you never want to be sent to the box when you're this crucial a part of your team, but protecting your goalie is vital. Get in the opposing team's forward's faces, always hassle them with stick checking and muscle them away from the net with your hips, keep your goalie's vision clear exactly this way.
Practice your passing. Oftentimes you'll gain possession of the puck after the opposing team takes a shot and your goalie deflects it. Your forwards will, then, be racing forward. If you can make the perfect touch pass in between opposing players and to your blitzing forward, it many times will result in a goal for your side. Learn to pass effectively, and when you're on a power play, or otherwise pressing into the other teams zone, and you've crept up past the other team's blue line, learn to pass effectively and you'll be the man always finding his forwards with the perfect one-timer right next to the opponent's goal.
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