When you play your position, you’ll improve your scoring chances against even the best defensive players
By Max Tabachnick
When you’ve been told by your teammates that you played a good game, chances are you knew to play your position. Poor positioning can lead to bad passes and missed scoring chances, not to mention it allows rushes and possible goals against your team. Being where you should be can make all the difference in playing your best hockey.
Here are three simple tips to help you make sure you play your position the right way:
1. Keep Your Lines Together: When you find players you perform well with on the ice, stick with them. If you keep getting scoring chances with the same players on your team, night after night, chances are you’ve got good chemistry. Exploit it. Getting in a good groove with your teammates on both sides of the ice is a surefire way of kickstarting your offense while limiting scoring opportunities for the opposing team. Tell your captain or coach you’d like to stick with the players who best compliment your own play before the lines for the game are formulated. Don’t be afraid to speak up; this isn’t about playing favorites, it’s about how to play your position, which equates to playing good hockey.
2. Hard off the Bench: Your squad is incredibly susceptible to goals-against during a line change. Make sure you have a good idea of the direction the play is headed in when you step out onto the ice and get to that spot as quickly as you can. Don’t wait until whoever you’re replacing is off the ice. Unless he/she makes the decision to jump back into the play once they are well in stride to the bench, chances are you won’t be called for too many men.
All it takes is one bad change to give an opposing player a prime opportunity to rush your zone. Don’t be the one to let it happen; when you’re coming in for someone, anticipate that you need to play your position. Think about where you should be at that very moment and get there a-sap.
3. Watch More Hockey: Ever wonder how the pros manage so many quality scoring opportunities against even the best defensive players? Sure, these guys are amazingly talented, but they also have thought long and hard about where they need to be to make the most effective play at any given time. Their positioning is a function of years of hockey-playing experience, combined with the insight and expertise of their coaching staff, and they offer it to you on a nightly basis for nine months out of the year, right there in your living room. Watch their play and apply it to yours.
And remember to play your position!
Max Tabachnick played varsity hockey in high school and now plays defense for his rec league team.