Chapter #12 - Getting The Most Out Of Your
Special Teams

Here's a summary of this chapter....

Special teams are a subset of a roller hockey team working together to accomplish a specific task. A special team could be established and utilized specifically to win face-offs in the defensive zone, to control the game during the last minute when your team has a lead, or to play against opponents when the two teams are at equal but reduced strength (such as in a 3-on-3 or 2-on-2 scenario). But most special teams focus on situations when they have a player (or two) advantage or are a player (or two) short.

Use a power play unit to take advantage of the teams numerical superiority while the opponent is serving a penalty. The power play consists of the following player scenarios: 4-on-3, 3-on-2, and 4-on-2. The objective of the power play unit is to use your additional player(s) to move the puck into your offensive zone, maintain possession until a scoring opportunity can be set up, and score.

Use a penalty killing unit to minimize the opponents numerical superiority and goal scoring opportunities by using speed, quickness, discipline, and strategy. The penalty kill consists of the following player scenarios: 3-on-4, 2-on-3, and 2-on-4. The objective of the penalty killing unit is to keep the opponents to the outside of the slot, force them to execute bad passes or poor percentage shots, eventually gain control of the puck, and sometimes even score a goal.

Choosing the right players for your special teams is based on physical and mental factors and the overall strategy. Physical factors include quickness, agility, skating, stickhandling, and passing ability, top plus/minus players (refer to your game statistics), and communication. Mental factors include excellent reading, anticipating, and reacting ability, determination and desire to either put the puck into a good scoring position or keep it away from one, and knowledge of special teams positioning. Roller hockey special teams should not be made up of forwards or defensemen, but should emphasize a teams' strengths through the right mix of skilled players to get the job done. Don't be afraid to move players around to take advantage of their specific skills.

Ideally, your power play unit should include a good breakout player, a player with an excellent shot, and two players who can screen the goaltender and be ready for a deflection or rebound, as well as stickhandle and pass the puck in and around defenders. All of these players need to be able to work well under pressure. Try to develop two power play units because your first unit is not always going to be ready to go when the opportunity arises. During practice sessions, you may want to mix players from the first and second units together on occasion and note the interplay.

The penalty killing unit should include one of your fastest players who can forecheck and backcheck and two additional defenders who are quick, can break up a pass, and have a strong shot to get the puck out of the defensive zone. It is also important to have players who are going to react coolly and effectively under pressure. As with the power play, two penalty killing units should be developed so that they can be switched during a penalty.

Contact Greg Siller @ Pro Learning Systems