D-Zone Coverage: Box +1

Box +1 is an excellent introductory defensive zone coverage set-up

I have used the Box +1 as an introductory defensive zone coverage set-up for a number of teams ranging from talented youngsters to beginner adults.

The Box +1 is a great way to introduce structured defensive zone positioning, without a lot of risk. It is a passive system, which means it’s very forgiving if a player makes a mistake (since you always have 4 players in front of the net!).

The Box +1 also lends itself to progress into more complex coverages such as “Sagging” Zone Coverage, and the “Sagging” Zone Arrow. Furthermore, the transition from d-zone coverage to breakout is simple and straight-forward with this style of coverage.


10 thoughts on “D-Zone Coverage: Box +1

  • Jeremy

    How does the box plus 1 fit in with the standards that USA hockey has been championing in the last few years of the game being more fluid?

    • Jeremy Weiss

      I see it as a starting point. Get the kids thinking in terms of more than just “chase the puck.” As they get older they can branch into more sophisticated positioning. But I don’t see any decrease in development by teaching this to U10’s. Fluidity is still possible within a system if you make sure to teach principles like read and react, timing, support, etc. I don’t think it’s an either/or question

  • Annabelle

    Hi Jeremy, first, i’d like to say that I LOVE your website. So much great information! I’m an adult player who return to hockey not long ago and your advices helped me a lot.

    So now here’s my question (sorry if it sounds stupid): I have trouble with positioning in the defensive zone. I’m a winger and I don’t know how much gap I can keep between the defensemen that I’m covering and me. Should I always be ”on her” ? What’s my job: make sure she doesn’t get the puck or make sure she doesn’t get a shot on net ?

    Finally, how low can I go in our defensive zone without being caught ”out of position” ?

    Thanks a lot and keep up the good work.


  • Simon

    And what would be the best offensive options against a team that plays the box+1??

    What would work best? We are having trouble having good shots against an opponent that plays this defense formation!!

  • hoz

    hey jeremy,

    do you have a good drill that helps reinforce the box +1. usually they start in the box position and have a couple skaters with the puck move around the box and make sure the coverage changes. would like something that gets them set up and helps them understand it more.

  • Jeremy Weiss

    In my opinion it’s a trade-off. Spreading the box can work to give you a better chance of intercepting a pass, but makes it easier to penetrate the box if the other team moves the puck well and isolates players with give and go’s. Keeping it tight protects the front of the net, but doesn’t give you a great chance of getting the puck back. I typically use this set-up with less-experienced players. With more advanced players, I’m ok with a more spread out box.

    However, if the puck is in the corner, I don’t see the need for the weak-side winger to be high on his point, since that’s an extremely low percentage pass. That’s where I’d tend toward a Sagging Zone set-up.

    At the end of the day, these are just theories and strategies. If your team executes a spread out box well, and you aren’t getting scored on, stick with what you’ve got. Each team is different… That’s where your “infinite wisdom” as a coach is put to good use 🙂

  • Flyers fan

    Hi Jeremy
    I am a big proponent of the box +1 due to it ease of understanding and success. The box you use is considerably smaller than what I teach and am interested in your thoughts on that. I felt using a little larger box on the opponents positions (as you drew them) limited their pass to being perfect or else a potential turnover as well as taking away some of the time and space they have in your perimeter. The tradeoff being the centreman covers a larger area and pucks that do get to our net may not be picked up as quickly. Having said that, when their D drop down our reaction is too tighten the box. Can you elaborate?

  • I have a question to all of you.
    I am a skaterhockey coach, which is a very small sport only played in 9 countries in Europe.
    We play 4 vs 4 and many teams in our league play in a box – does not matter if offensive or defensive zone.
    I try to play in a different way to be not so readable for the other teams, but I am still searching for the best way.
    Do you think it makes sense to take this box+1 set-up and stay in a triangle in the middle or do you think it is better to keep the box?
    I hope you understnad what I mean 🙂

    • Jeremy Weiss

      I like your “triangle +1” concept. In fact, that is one of the set-ups I use while penalty killing… So make sure you check out that video when it goes live!

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