It Takes the Right Mindset to Forecheck Effectively
The X’s and O’s of forechecking are shared in the video clips below. Forechecking is a defensive tactic deployed to take away time and space and create potential to force puck turnovers in all three zones of the rink.
The X’s and O’s of the game are important because players need to know their roles and how to execute but you need to have the right mindset to be a good forechecking team. You have to be a group that enjoys getting in the opponent’s face and being tough to play against. Good defensive teams have the right mindset and that makes the difference, it’s more than the X’s and O’s.
The NHL’s Dallas Stars developed their identity in the 2019/20 season. The group developed a reputation for being tough to play against and their identity took them to the NHL Stanley Cup finals. Take a listen to Coach Rick Bowness talk about the importance of the right mindset, the mindset of being in your face and wanting to be hard to play against both defensively and offensively. It takes a work ethic not every team is willing to consistently bring to the rink.
Forechecking Video Clips – The X’s and O’s of Forechecking
The 3 forechecking clips below are shared to provide you with an explanation of how forechecking structures (patterns) are designed to create pressure to eliminate time and space and create the potential to force puck turnovers.
Key Elements of Strong Forechecking Teams
The tweet below from @TLPF_Hockey provides an overview of some of the key elements which will be expanded upon in this post.
- Pressure The Puck – Applying pressure on the puck carrier is one of the keys to taking away a team’s time and space. The more time and space the puck carrier has to make a good play with the puck the more difficult he/she becomes to defend against.
- Take Away Offensive Puck Support – Every puck carrier should have a minimum of two passing options at all times and good offensive teams support the puck carrier to set quality passing lane options. A key element of a good forechecking team is to takeaway passing lane options and exit options with their forecheck pattern (structure) and tactics.
- Gap Control – Closing the gap on the puck and the puck carrier by F1 and defenders (F2, F3, D1 and D2) to block exits and take away passing options and the carry option. Playing the right gap as a group with the D supporting the F’s is key to a good forecheck result.
- Protecting Middle Ice (Between the Dots) – Forecheckers take away their opponent’s ability to carry or pass the puck through the middle of the ice surface by taking an inside out approach angle checking.
- Speed & Physicality – The forechecking unit use speed and physicality to defend. The ability to change speeds to take away their opponent’s ice with the puck is critical to forcing the opponent outside the dots and separating the puck carrier from the puck.
- Defending in Layers – As a forechecking unit you support the puck defensively at different levels in the zone. It’s important to not get caught below the puck as a forechecking unit. Always inside out control.
- Finishing the Check – No need for concussion checking, a good shoulder to shoulder check to create puck separation as part of your angling technique gets the job done. Playing body, stick, puck or stick, body, puck but not just the puck.
The right mindset is more important than X’s and O’s and technical hockey skills. Every young player aspiring to reach the elite level should take pride in their defensive skills. Don’t let yourself be outworked and take pride in being hard to play against. Play a 200′ game, win your share of puck battles and be a good forechecker and checker in all three zones.
Your best players have to play more with the puck than without the puck. That requires your best players to take pride in their forechecking and checking skills and defensive game to win the time of possession game. On an elite team, the best offensive players are also the best defensive players.
Tort‘s Pregame Speech – It takes guts to play in traffic and to compete on the forecheck and be tough to play against. It’s good advice because being a good player is about the mindset you decide to play with, the right mindset is a difference maker and Tort’s knows this from years of coaching experience.