Russo's Golden Rules for Defensemen

Mar 14, 2024


Golden Rules for Defensemen - Let's Play Hockey

Golden Rules for Defensemen

Here are the golden rules for defensemen:

  1. Always support your partner - whether you're at the offensive blue line, in the neutral zone, or most importantly, in your defensive zone.
  2. Ensure one defenseman is always in front of the net when the opposition controls the puck in your zone, or there's a risk they might. For younger players (Mites to early Peewees), it's crucial to maintain a defenseman in front of the net whenever the puck is in your zone.
  3. Avoid exiting the offensive zone prematurely. This mistake is more common than leaving too late and can cause the defense to retreat too quickly and too far, complicating the task of matching the pace of the attacking forward.
  4. Prioritize defense. If you're attacking with the puck, only venture deep into the offensive zone if there's a prime scoring chance, and you're a part of it.
  5. Never face a 1 on 1 directly. Instead, give the attacker a bit of space on one side to guide them where you want them to go.
  6. In 2 on 2 and 3 on 3 situations, position one defenseman slightly ahead of the other. The forward defenseman usually stays closer to the puck carrier.
  7. When shooting from the point, aim for low, not overly powerful shots to keep the puck in the rebound zone, and ensure accuracy. Defensemen aim not to score directly but to create scoring opportunities for forwards.
  8. Instead of engaging directly with opponents in front of your net, focus on gaining a strategic position and maintaining control.
  9. Avoid engaging with an opponent when your team is down a player. Engagements during a penalty kill can improve the power play team's odds.
  10. Don't stand idle looking for a pass, especially in the defensive zone. Adopt a 'look-move-look-pass' routine to minimize surprise attacks, enhance pass accuracy, and prompt the opposition to retreat.
  11. Keep moving your feet when turning to follow a player around the outside. Lunging or reaching without moving can be particularly challenging for younger players due to their developing skating skills.
  12. Continuously improve your backward skating and turning abilities. Defensemen should be as comfortable moving backward and sideways as they are moving forward, a skill vital from youth levels up through college.
  13. Avoid passing to covered forwards. Instead, carry the puck, cross-pass to your partner, or hold onto it if needed. Gaining confidence in cross-passing and puck carrying is essential for opening up offensive opportunities.
  14. Engage in checking with a clear purpose. Random checks often lead to self-injury, missed opportunities, and penalties. Learn to recognize when checking is necessary and effective.
  15. Communicate effectively with your partner, goalie, and forwards. Teamwork is enhanced through good communication, while engaging with opponents can be counterproductive.
  16. Follow your attacking forwards closely (20-30 feet) and advance quickly into the offensive zone after the puck. A common mistake among defensemen is moving up the ice too slowly, allowing play to reverse before they cross the blue line.
  17. Prioritize clearing the puck over the defensive blue line, then quickly move up to the blue line. Defend both blue lines vigorously as the opposition advances, as these are strategic points to halt their progress.

These guidelines, shared in a friendly and informative tone, are designed to help defensemen at all levels improve their game.

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