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 CHECKING for ICE HOCKEY


Below is a Sample of some of the diagrams and teaching from DVD Series Checking for Ice Hockey by Sean Skinner.  



Introduction to the DVD series




DVD 1 - Skating for Checking

Protect the dot drill is one of the first drills to teach players to move laterally with their body first.  Here we are trying to teach players that good defense is getting between the opponent and the dot or the would be net.




Here is a fantastic exercise to teach forward and backward skating with crossovers just as they would be used in the game.  Too often players are doing backward crossovers in a circle an exercise that they will never do in ice hockey.  This drill from Sweden teaches forward and backward pivots right where they would occur in the game and teaching the skating needed for a player to keep proper Gap Control on the opponent.




Here is another skating drill from Sweden that incorporates forward to backward skating with backwards crossovers just as they would be used in the game.  Also, pivots from backwards to forward driving the player wide.









DVD 2 - Positioning

Players will learn about the most important positioning in ice hockey Defensive Side Positioning or Net/Goal Side Positioning.  This is when a player stands between the net and the opponent that they are covering. Every player should learn this positioning first before they learn about center, wing and Defense.  A second type of positioning is called Puck Side Positioning.  Here the player stands between the opponent they are covering and the puck.  This type of positioning is used when a player wants to be on the attack quickly.  For example. Late in the game when you are down by a goal or two.  Good Positioning is a combination of Defensive Side Positioning and Puck Side Positioning.



Players should try to work together to direct the opposition away from the middle of the ice.  We call this protecting the Mid-ice Corridor.  
Players do this by Deflecting, Steering and then Angling the offensive attack to a poor ice position against the boards.




Here in this diagram player will learn about Steering & Angling with proper stick positioning.  Steering is when we want to direct the opponent to a poor ice position that is away from the middle and to the boards.
When one player effective steers the opponent then everyone else on the team knows which direction the play is headed and can cut them off.
Angling takes steering one step further and involves body contact.  Usually the first forechecker steers the opponent and the second forechecker angles
in and applies a body check like a Roll Check or a Pin Check.  It is important for all forecheckers to have their stick in the passing lane.  This DVD and the diagrams will help players learn when and where to have their stick when forechecking in the Offensive Zone and the Neutral Zone and on the Penalty Kill.


 These photos show the difference between Tight and Loose Gaps.  The Gap is the distance between you and the player you are covering.  A loose gap will give the opponent too much time and space to make a decision and allow them to skate in front and take a shot.  A tight gap or one that is too close will allow the opponent to sneak by you quickly.  The proper distance for Gap Control is about 1 to 1.5 stick lengths.






In the last section on DVD 2 Positioning players will learn about Pressure and Contain Checking.  This is the difference between when the player moves forward and applies checking pressure or skates backwards giving up ice and contains the opponent.  The major question is:  Does the player have good puck possession?  And, is the opponent facing you?  If the opponent has good puck possession and is facing you then you back up and contain the situation.
If the opponent has poor puck possession and their back is facing you then you close the gap and apply checking pressure.


This Chart here shows the progression in checking from skating checks to stick checks to body checks.  Players should first try skating checks then if they do not have the puck use the stick check again if they do not have the puck then LAST try to use a body check to gain back puck possession.




DVD 3 - Stick Checks

Poke Checking is on the most often used stick checks in ice hockey. 
Here we are showing the illusive stick zone.  The stick zone is the players reach all the way around their body.  A good defenseman will not hold their this all the way out in front but rather they will hold the top hand in next to their hip.  This makes it look like the stick zone is smaller.  When the attacking player enters the stick zone then a quick poke check to knock the puck off their stick.



Another great stick check is the Pry Check.  Instead of wasting a lot of time and energy pushing the opponent against the wall and risking getting a penalty the player can use this stick check.  Simply from the side slide the stick between the wall and the opponents legs and pry the top of the stick away from the wall.  Make sure that a player does not pull away with the blade of the stick tripping the opponent.  Once the opponents legs have been moved away from the wall grab the puck and take off.







This rare diagram show the sticks in the passing lanes for the penalty kill.  Stick in the Passing Lane is another type of passive stick check.  Many times a player is standing in the right position and covering their
opponent but the pass still gets through.  If the player
is watching the puck and the opponent that they are covering with the stick in the passing lane then when the pass comes they will be able to block, poke or just catch the puck and will not have to worry about tying up with the other player.








DVD 4 - Contact Confidence and Body Checking


There is a Danger Zone next to the boards when receiving or giving a body check.  This is defined as a 3-5 foot space next to the boards. 
Many times when a player is getting checked they stand slightly away from the boards instead of moving close.  Then when they get hit they get two impacts one from the checker and a second one from hitting the boards.  At this angle many players end up breaking their collarbone when checked into the boards from 3-5 feet away.




The Roll Check is one of the first body checks to teach.  He the player tries to hit the back outside of the shoulder rolling the outside shoulder of the opponent into the wall thus, ending their forward movement.  
The Player actually skates right in front of the opponent with two options.  First the player could lift the opponents stick at the same time as the roll check is being applied and then use their inside leg to kick the free puck up and skate away with the puck.  The second way is to roll the opponent into the wall and then pin the opponent into the boards and hold them for a second while another teammate comes by and picks up the free puck.  See below.



Here we see the Pin Check applied with the inside knee pushed in-between the opponents legs and your hands and hips pressing the opponents hips into the boards.  All of this is done by pushing with the outside back leg.  This leg is your power source.







The Shoulder Check is the next check and the mechanics are again very similar to the Pin Check with the back outside leg providing the power and strength.  Contact is made with the outside of the shoulder.