Coaching Defense in Youth Hockey
The responsibility of the defensive players in hockey isn't merely to keep the opposing team from scoring, but to move the puck forward to your team's offense. A defensive player is constantly ready to move in hockey, depending on the location of the puck and the other players. Be sure your defense understands the importance of paying attention to multiple aspects of the game at once.
A defensive player must be agile on his or her skates so that he or she can change positions quickly. Your defense needs to be able to skate rapidly as well. The best way to get the puck moving up the rink to your offense is usually with a pass. However, when a pass isn't practical, your defense should be ready to skate the puck out of your end zone [source: DiRito].
When it comes to keeping the puck out of your net, positioning your defense is crucial. When six players per team are on the ice at once, you have two defensive players other than the goalie. One defensive player should go for the puck and be ready to either pass it to the offense or skate it into the neutral zone. The other should stay back and guard the area around the net. Your defensive players can switch roles depending on where the puck and other players are positioned. Communication between these two defensive players is crucial to ensure neither position is unattended [source: Raimondo].
Your other defensive player, the goalie, will need to learn his or her own particular strategies for keeping the puck out of the net. To learn about coaching goalies, read the next page.