1 on 1 Strategy


Strategy and Tactics for Playing a 1 on 1 Properly

Last week, I showed a clip from the World Junior Hockey Championships, which demonstrated a Well-Executed 1 on 1. In that post, I also made the following statement:

Excellent defensive play is more about making the right pass, shot selection, managing gap, body positioning, controlling the front of the net, reading forechecking pressure, etc. These are all mental skills, and these are the skills that make for a great defenseman!

1 on 1 StrategyIn this video I show the X’s and O’s behind 1 on 1 strategy, and highlight a few errors that are commonly made among young defensemen (and older ones too!). Here are the main key points discussed in the video:

  1. Defenseman should quickly put some distance between him/herself and the breaking forward
  2. Manage the gap through the neutral zone, looking for tight gap (2 stick lengths) by the time he/she is crossing the blue line
  3. Stick lengths are measured north & south, defenseman maintains direct route to the near post
  4. Let the forward make the first move. Defenseman doesn’t have to go anywhere if he/she maintains a proper gap, and proper route back to the post. The forward will have to come to the defenseman eventually if he/she wants a shot
  5. If the defenseman gets beat wide, he/she should pivot, and skate straight back to the post. DON’T CHASE THE FORWARD!

Enjoy!

Key Points for a Well-Executed 1 on 1


How to Play a 1 on 1 Properly

1 on 1My dad used to say you don’t have to be a great player to be a great defenseman. What he meant by that is that you don’t have to be the fastest, the most technically sound, and you don’t have to have the hardest shot. Being an excellent defenseman means being a SMART player.

Excellent defensive play is more about making the right pass, shot selection, managing gap, body positioning, controlling the front of the net, reading forechecking pressure, etc. These are all mental skills, and these are the skills that make for a great defenseman!

In this video, we see a well-executed 1 on 1 by a Russian defenseman. The key points shown in this example are as follows:

  1. Properly managed gap; two stick lengths as they cross the blue line.
  2. Good upper body posture; arms loose, but compact. Hands at the hips.
  3. Poke check, not swipe check; you can poke check and miss all day long, and still maintain proper body positioning.
  4. Re-closing the gap; after the Swiss player turns back, the Russian defenseman re-closes the gap to maintain proper positioning in case of a re-entry.

Enjoy!

Czech Race



Czech Race is an Intense, Sprint Race

This one is a great, full-speed sprint race. Lots of intensity, and good opportunity for some physical contact.

czech_raceCzech Race:
1. Players line up on red lines
2. On the whistle, two players across from each other race to the puck
3. The player who gets to the puck first shoots, other player backchecks
4. On the next whistle the other two players go the other way


USE THIS DRILL IN YOUR OWN PRACTICE PLAN:



Bednar Escape Race



Here’s a Fun Competition Drill that can be Run Half-Ice

I picked this one up from by good friend Jan Bednar, out in Slovakia. This one is great for full-speed agility skating, and works power turns and pivots, forward and backward.

bednar_escapeBednar Escape Race:
1. On whistle, first player from each corner leaves and skates the route shown
2. Full power turns around each cone, pivot backwards around the bottom quarter of the circle
3. Race to the puck, player who gets there first shoots, other player backchecks


USE THIS DRILL IN YOUR OWN PRACTICE PLAN:



Head on a Swivel!



Head on a Swivel!

headonswivelI love watching the World Junior Championships each year. It’s a chance to see a bunch of talented, young, “up-and-comers” playing some high-quality hockey, in a fun and exciting atmosphere.

The nature of the games, and of the tournament in general, lends itself to a great study of the game. The players are smaller than in the NHL, there’s a bigger gap between the top and bottom teams, and the games are more of a finesse style of play. Which means, lots of scoring, especially in the early rounds, and lots of well-executed systems play.

Even at the highest levels of play, you still see mistakes made. And games are won and lost based in the DETAILS. In this video, we see what happens when a defenseman fails to have his head on a swivel. On-ice awareness is essential at ANY level of play, but especially at the highest levels of play. If a player doesn’t know what’s going on around him, a good team will take advantage of that and the puck will be in the back of his net before he knows what hit him!

Enjoy!

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