Golden Rules

Forward's Golden Rules

  • Know what your job is — in all zones — and do it each time. Don't try to do teammates' jobs or you will fail at yours. Ask questions in practice if you are unsure about any situations during play or faceoffs. Intelligent hockey is what wins games.
  • Back check at full speed until you have someone covered when coming back to our zone. Back checking at full speed is simply the complement of attacking at full speed. Don't be a one-direction player. When back checking, pick up the most open man without the puck. If the puck is in your area, it may well be appropriate to go after the puck carrier. However, the player without the puck is often then most dangerous. Often it is most effective to let the defensemen take the puck carrier and to take away the pass by covering the other open forward.
  • Put out a full and honest effort on each shift then get off the ice. Maximum effort short shifts have proven to be most desirable at all levels of hockey.
  • Push the puck into the offensive zone or get a whistle when you or anyone on your line is tired. A tired line is most vulnerable - it is seldom productive to play tired. It's always desirable to take a whistle in the defensive zone than to defend without legs.
  • Always attack with the puck. Do not make it easy for the other team to catch you from behind. A pressured attack is much harder for a defenseman to cover and results in more 2 on 1 and 3 on 2 situations.
  • Move the puck up the ice with passes to line mates ahead that are open, then move quickly to join the rush. Don't force passes to covered line mates ahead. Skating the puck up the ice is the slowest alternative.
  • Get into the habit of shooting when in the slot area unless an obvious open pass is available. It is seldom productive to stick handle further once in the slot unless to gain a better angle on the goaltender or to let line mates move in for rebounding. Extra passes look good but often take away good scoring chances. The key offensive strategy of hockey is to get shots from the slot. When they are available, they should be taken.
  • Always use a wrist or snap shot when shooting from the slot. Quickness and accuracy score from the slot; slap shots do not provide either.
  • Move away from the net when a teammate has the puck behind the opposition goal line or wide and deep on the boards - and move toward the net when your defense or high forward has the puck in a shooting position. It is easier to remember, "move out when the puck is inside and move in when the puck is outside." The tendency is to move up close to the net when a teammate has the puck in the corner or behind the net. However up close is where most of the congestion and close coverage is. A high slot position will result in move opportunities for clear shots. When a defenseman is in a shooting position, on the other hand, moving to the net creates the best screening of the goaltender and also puts player around the net for rebounds. There are some details to be worked out by individual coaches, but the basic concept is important.
  • Take specific care not to go offside when attacking in an advantage (2 on 1 or 3 on 2) situation. While it is seldom good to be offside, it is critical to complete 2 on 1 or 3 on 2 situations as many times and possible in each game. It is best to be conservative going across the blue line in these situations.
  • When throwing the puck into the offensive zone, shoot it to the opposite corner or off the end boards where it will come out at a difficult angle for both the goaltender and defensemen to handle. Shooting the puck at the goaltender or around the boards gives control to opposing goaltender - who can easily feed a defenseman or wing.
  • Don't "tie-up" with an opposing player when your team is a man (or more) short. The odds of scoring get better as fewer players are involved in a power play situation — i.e. 4 on 3 is better than 5 on 4. 
    Don't retaliate from checks or infractions, whether legal or not. Part of the forwards' job is to take checks and keep playing. Retaliation often results in a penalty — and referees often miss the opposition player infraction.
  • Communicate with your linemates and other teammates. It is one of the most important parts of teamwork. Don't communicate with opposing players - it seldom is of value and exposes your emotions.
  • Constantly practice your weakest skills. Get away from the habit of just shooting when you have free time to practice. Other skills are more important.

Defensemen's Golden Rules

  • Always back up your partner on the offensive blue line, in the neutral zone and especially in the defensive zone.
  • One defensemen should always be in front of the net when the opposition has the puck in your zone or there is danger that they may gain possession. For young defensemen (Mite trough early Pee Wee) the rule should be: always one defensemen in front of the net when the puck is in your zone.
  • Do not leave the offensive zone too soon. Leaving too soon is a much more common mistake than leaving too late for a large percentage of defensemen from Mite through high school.
  • Always play defense first. If attacking with the puck, only go deep into offensive zone until PRIME scoring opportunity is over and you are part of it.
  • Never play a 1 on 1 "head on". Give the attacker a little room on one side to force him to go where you want him to go.
  • Stagger one defenseman up a little farther than the other in 2 on 1 and 3 on 2 situations. The up man will generally be nearer the puck carrier.
  • Shoot intelligently from the point. The best shot is always low, generally not too hard (so it stays in the scoring area for rebounds), and accurate. Defensemen seldom are shooting to score, but rather to put the puck into scoring are so that forwards can score. Always look up so shots are not into opposing players and so that passes to wide wings or partner can be made when appropriate.
  • Do not "tie up" with people in front of your net - rather gain position and control.
  • Do not ever "tie up" with an opposing player anywhere when your team is a man short. As the players on the team with a penalty tie up and are out of the play, the odds get better on the power play, i.e. 4 on 3 is better than 5 on 4, 3 on 2 is better than 4 on 3, etc.
  • Do not stand looking for someone to pass to in the defensive zone (especially). Look - move - look - pass. This reduces the chances of being surprised from the back or side, makes the pass more accurate, and forces the opposition to begin retreating.
  • When turning with a player breaking around the outside, keep the feet moving - do not lunge or reach without moving your feet. Young players have an especially hard time with this mainly because of their lack of skating and turning skills.