Two Key Concepts To Winning The Possession Game


Concept # 1 Outnumbering/Overloading

Hockey is a Possession Game and there are two offensive concepts every young player needs to learn to become a better offensive player. The first concept is Outnumbering also referred to as Overloading on the puck/strong side to create a player advantage. The higher the calibre or level of play the more difficult it becomes to beat a defender one against one. You need to create outnumbered situations where your team has the player advantage to support the advancement of the puck.

The Russian players from the 70’s were famous for outnumbering or overloading in space to create the player advantage to advance the puck. The players as a group possessed strong technical hockey skills and were suited to the puck support game which required them to ensure the Puck Carrier had passing options to advance the puck. As a group, the players would be patient with the puck and didn’t mind going backwards or sideways with the puck before going forward with the puck because of the passing options present at all times. Every good player is patient with the puck because they are confident in their technical skills and know they have the support of their teammates to support the puck.

Concept # 2 – Puck Support (Offensive)

Teams that support the puck (Puck Carrier) are excellent at retaining puck possession and control. These teams seldom put the puck off the glass to get the puck out of the zone (defensive zone or neutral zone) and prefer to pass the puck (direct or indirect) to retain puck possession and control. The players without the puck are responsible for finding open ice to set a quality passing lane to support the Puck Carrier. The players without the puck can be above the puck, below the puck or adjacent to the puck but they must “arrive on time” to ensure a quality passing lane option exists. The Puck Carrier is responsible for being patient with the puck and timing his/her passes to players to ensure the group retains puck possession and control to advance the puck. The advancement of the puck is the result of time and space created by the group supporting the puck to create open ice to accomplish the task.

The video below is of the Red Wings Power Play unit made up of five well known Russian players who possess strong technical hockey skills. The players demonstrate patience with the puck and the ability to find open ice, support the Puck Carrier and to create an outnumbered situation to advance the puck. The video clip is worth watching to see these concepts being executed.



The concepts of Outnumbering or Overloading and Offensive Puck Support are key to a player’s development. It is a lot more fun playing with the puck than without the puck. The learning of these concepts support the development of a young player’s technical hockey skills. Players need to have excellent technical hockey skills to execute these concepts to retain puck possession and control. Players should be given the freedom to be creative once they learn the concepts to make plays. Give and Go play is a tactic that is under coached and supports the execution of these two key concepts. Player and puck movement are essential elements of the Possession Game.

It’s not how fast you skate that is important but rather how fast you think. Our young players need to know this and understand key concepts to ensure their technical hockey skills are developed. They will make mistakes but that is how they learn.

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