Chapter #7 - The Dominant Defense

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

Defense is an important factor in the success of any roller hockey team. The primary role of the defense is to help prevent goals, give your goaltender a clear and equal chance at stopping shots, break up any attack that your opponents may have, and to participate on offense. Defensive strategy is situational in nature and is based on playing the percentages. This means that it is better to force an opponent to take a shot from further out, compared to close in, because there is a greater percentage in stopping long shots than close ones. Playing the percentages also means forcing shots from an angle rather than directly in the slot. This is particularly evident when the opposition has an outnumbered attack, as in two-on-one or three-on-two situations. Providing the goaltender with a clear and equal chance at stopping shots means controlling the slot area. Controlling the slot is important because of the high percentage of scoring opportunities in that area. Defensemen accomplish this by using their bodies, arms, and sticks (legally) to contain or move opponents who are in the slot area looking for a shot, pass, rebound, or deflection. Breaking up an offensive attack is another important role. A defenseman accomplishes this by playing hard in the corners and behind the net against the opposing forwards, attempting to gain control of the puck or at least preventing the other team from gaining or maintaining control. Once the attack is broken up, the defenseman can gain control of the puck and begin to move the play toward the other end of the playing surface.

The goaltender must also become involved in defensive situations. Communication between the defense and the goaltender is essential. Too many times, through non-existent or confusing communication, the goaltender is simply left to play the shot. If the goaltender and the defensemen play together, with each understanding the others' role, they will have an excellent chance of neutralizing any attack.

Offensive participation is another important responsibility of a defenseman in roller hockey. Because of its offensive design, roller hockey requires at least one of the defensemen to participate in the offense to provide additional scoring opportunities. The defensemen participate by moving the puck up the playing surface and by becoming an extra attacker in the offensive zone. An important factor in knowing when to move up into the play or stay back is proper reading and reacting of each play. By being aware of the play around you and understanding what patterns exist, the defenseman has the information required to make a good judgment and can decide whether to move into the offensive play or whether it is time to maintain a defensive posture.

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