Although they may not get the same amount of glory as a high-scoring forward, being a defensemen at any level of hockey comes with significant responsibilities. While the preferred style of play (defensive-minded, offensive-minded, all-around) may vary from player to player, each defenseman is tasked with protecting their own net while simultaneously initiating possession and opportunities in the offensive zone.
These hockey drills help simulate those roles and develop the skills most closely associated with being a defenseman.
This drill helps defensive players work on their ability to move and pass the puck quickly, while also working on their ability to defend opposing players in one-on-one situations as they skate backwards toward their own net.
Have two lines of players (defensemen and forwards) start at the blue line with the coach standing between them. Once the coach starts the drill, the defenseman begins skating backward toward their net. The forward moves the puck into the zone and begins exchanging one-touch passes with the retreating defenseman. After two to three passes are exchanged, the forward gains control of the puck and circles back toward the blue line. After touching the blue line, the forward then attacks the net and the defenseman tries to close the gap and prevent the forward from scoring.
Down Low, One-on-One
Much like the previous drill, this exercise will find players competing in a one-on-one situation. However, the space that each player is provided will be significantly restricted.
Have a group of players collect themselves next to the coach in front of the net. The coach will select two players to participate and then chip the puck behind the net. The two players will compete for possession of the puck and be restricted to stay below the goal line the entire time. If the puck ever leaves the restricted area, the coach will chip in a new puck. The player with possession will try and keep possession of the puck by protecting it. The defensive player will work to stay in good position (between the puck and net), while also attempting to steal the puck. If the defensive player manages to steal the puck, they then become the offensive player and continue playing. After battling for possession for several seconds, the coach will then blow the whistle. Upon hearing the whistle, the player with the puck will try to score and the defensive player attempts to clear the puck from danger.
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