Kenny Rausch discusses positioning and that individual and team transition within the four roles of hockey is the key to success.

What is the difference between position and positioning?

Kenny Rausch, VP of Client Relationships with RinkNet Software, asked this question to kick off his 15-minute TCS Live presentation in 2022. Of course we know that forward, defence and goaltender are positions, and where each of them are on the ice is their positioning.

Rausch, who previously worked as the Director of Youth Hockey for USA Hockey overseeing the youth hockey department and programs, the youth and high school National Championships, and all Boy’s National Player Development Camps, doesn’t ask the question because he’s looking for an answer. He asks it to gain clarity on what attendees thought was more important.

Back in the day, Rausch explained, defensemen were positioned to one side of the goalie on defence and on offence, they’d take up that same side of the ice, right up the blueline. There was no freedom to read the game and make a play somewhere else on the ice. Rausch is trying to change that.

For very young players, offence and defence are all you teach. But as soon as there is cognitive learning and thinking happening, the four roles of hockey come into play: offence with the puck, offence away from the puck, defence on the puck, and defence away from the puck.

Rausch believes individual and team transition within the four roles is the key to success.

“If you watch a youth or NHL hockey game, the puck changes possession anywhere from 300 to 500 times, maybe more, in a game. Players are changing roles constantly and the faster they can anticipate those roles and go from mental to physical and physical to mental, the better off you’ll be.”

That begs the question I’m sure many of you are asking: how can you be successful without strictly defined positions? By having great habits and emphasizing concepts.

Watch Rausch’s presentation and learn the importance of teaching interchangeable positional roles.

Tickets to TCS Live 2023, taking place June 22-24 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor are ON SALE NOW! Click below for details.

TCS Live - Hockey's Premier Coaching Conference

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Kenny Rausch

Kenny Rausch served as the director of youth hockey for USA Hockey for the past 12 years before joining RinkNet. In that previous role, Rausch helped oversee USA Hockey’s youth hockey department and programs, the youth and high school National Championships, and all Boy’s National Player Development Camps.

As part of his work at the development camps, he served as the General Manager of the U.S. Under-17 team that competed in the Under-17 Five Nations Tournament and assisted in coordinating the Under-18 Select Team that competed at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Prior to joining USA Hockey on a full-time basis, Rausch coached at numerous USA Hockey Boys’ Select Player Development Camps, and was an assistant coach for the U.S. Under-18 Select Team at the 2004 and 2005 Junior World Cups (later known as the Hlinka Gretzky Cup).

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