Beat Their Face-Off (Part 1 of 2)
(Originally submitted as an article by Greg Siller for Hockey Player Magazine - www.HockeyPlayer.com)
Don't let the title of this article fool you. I'm not advocating mortal combat, but do hope to inspire you to learn a few techniques that will help you win face-offs. Part 1 of this two-part article covers winning face-off techniques in the offensive zone. Part 2 covers the defensive zone.
Figure 1; Face-off Layers
Face-off techniques are used by a team to optimize their chances of gaining control of the puck following a face-off. The ability of a team to consistently gain control of the puck following a face-off, especially in their offensive zone, will allow that team the opportunity to move the puck in for a scoring opportunity and force the opposing team to immediately go on the defensive.
In the offensive zone, face-off strategy should be built around winning the face-off and gaining control of the puck first, initiating an offensive attack second, and forechecking the opponents to regain control of the puck third.
Face-off alignments are defined as the placement of players to most effectively implement the face-off strategy. For roller hockey, three face-off alignments consist of the 3-0-1, 2-1-1, and 2-0-2; three ice hockey alignments consist of the 3-0-2, 3-1-1, and 2-1-2; where the numbers refer to the number of players in each of the three face-off layers (see Figure 1).
When the face-off is deep in the offensive zone, players should align themselves using either the 3-0-1 or 2-1-1 (for roller hockey) or the 3-1-1 (for ice). These alignments allow your team to control the puck and set up a scoring opportunity if you win the face-off, and put pressure on the opposing team if you lose the face-off.
On every face-off, each player must have a primary assignment that will be carried out once the puck is dropped. After the puck has been dropped, that assignment may change depending upon whether the draw is won, lost, or undetermined (both centers continue to battle for the puck).
Figure 2; 2-1-1 Roller Alignment Figure 3; 3-1-1 Ice Alignment
In Figure 2, if the center (LF in this case) wins the face-off back to LD, the second part of the face-off strategy is put in place. The two forwards move toward the net for a deflection or rebound, while RD moves away from the play to become a passing option for LD. LD can shoot or pass depending on traffic. If RD gets the puck, he can fire off a quick shot or pass back to LD.
In Figure 3, if the center wins the face-off back to LD, C and LF move toward the net, RF works to keep the defenders from skating toward the point, and again RD becomes a passing option for LD.
If your team loses the draw, the third part of the face-off strategy is put in place; immediately begin forechecking and pressuring the opponents in an attempt to gain control of the puck.
Optimize your chances of gaining control of the puck following a face-off by developing and practicing this three-point face-off strategy.
Greg Siller, founder of Pro Learning Systems (www.ProLearning.com), has put his 25 years of ice and roller hockey experience into authoring several hockey articles as well as two highly acclaimed hockey books;