The Importance of Winning Puck Recovery Battles


When you watch teams that consistently win puck recovery battles along the boards there is evidence of strategy, tactics, and skill at play in their execution. These teams understand how important winning puck recovery battles are to winning the puck possession and control game and ultimately the hockey game.

But it’s not enough to know why it’s important to win puck battles. They need to know how to do it, too.


A puck recovery battle is a pressure trigger that requires a group tactical plan to be executed by players with the skills to get the job done. The coaching of this group tactic should be broken down into the elements of a tactical plan and the skills required to execute that plan. 

Group Tactical Plan Elements

  • Outnumber on the puck as a group for tactical advantage
  • Structure the group to contain the puck battle area
  • Define the roles of each player in the group P1-P5
  • Passing options upon puck recovery in tight space
  • Box out the opponent from the puck
  • Skills teaching with emphasis on proper fundamentals
  • Exit play options from the tight space area upon recovery of the puck
  • Defensive plan in lost battle situations

Technical Hockey Skills & Abilities of Players

  • Checking ability
  • Pressure up ability (individual & group)
  • Touch passing skills in a tight space
  • Communication
  • Strong hockey position for balance and safety of players and always two hands on the stick
  • Compete level
  • Grit & courage

Video Analysis

Every coach likely supports the concept of a planned approach to winning puck recovery battles and not leaving the process to chance. Below are video clips of puck recovery battle situations The teams that lose puck battles may not have had a planned approach or in these clips there were simply execution mistakes.

Final Thought

Kids benefit from being coached to win the puck possession game. When kids play more with the puck than without the puck they enjoy the game more and their offensive skills improve.

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Mike Coldham

Mike has over 25 years of coaching experience as a Technical Mentor Coach of people in Business and Sports. Now retired after 35 years of public service, Mike created the TLPF website to support the development of competitive minor hockey players. Mike works with competitive hockey players to help them learn how to play faster which requires tactical knowledge and skills.

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