3 Drills for Teaching Heads up Defense

Dan Arel

Dan Arel is the Director of Coaching Education and Development for the San Diego Oilers and head coach of their 12U A team. He was also named the 2020 San Diego Gulls Foundation's Coach of the Year. You can email him at [email protected]

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Help your team develop a more organized strategy on what kind of defense it will play.

In the last few months, I have written about and showed drills for teams coming out of their zone on the breakout all the way through entering and attacking in the offensive zone. Yet, we all know we can’t keep the puck the whole game and we will find ourselves playing the defensive game.

While I have previously written about teaching gap control for defense, teams need a more organized strategy on what kind of defense they will play. The strategy will be more complex as the players age up, but even at the younger 10U levels, there is a good deal of strategy so that your players aren’t just scrambling around the ice.

We will start with teaching our defense how to defend a player on the rush, or those potential breakaways coming out of the offensive zone on an unfortunate turnover. Before we even begin teaching a system, they need to know how to properly defend an attacking player. Many players go for the puck and not the body, creating even more odd-man rushes because a lazy swipe at the puck takes them out of the play.

Tracking Drill

This simple drill has players line up on the side of the net, and only going on the coach’s whistle. On the whistle, the inside player, who is a defender, passes the puck to the player on the boards who will play offense.

Help your team develop a more organized strategy on what kind of defense it will play . . .



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