Hockey is a game of inches. The value of each individual possession can be measured in centimeters, and every team has its own strategy for how to gain that precious territory on the ice: carry it into your opponent’s zone or shoot from afar? It all depends upon what they’re facing at any given time–defensively oriented teams might opt out entirely if there are no penalty killers available while offensive combinations will likely go long-range after receiving plenty of support behind them (though this does not always work). But no matter which approach you take; one thing remains constant throughout these various strategies.
What is forechecking in hockey? Hockey forechecking is an essential part of the game. It’s when a team pressures their opponents in order to gain control over them and force them into making mistakes that can be used by your own squad, or even scored on if they’re lucky enough. There are many different types of ways teams use this strategy – some just try pressure from all angles while others focus more heavily towards one area like center ice, but no matter what approach you choose it must always remain aggressive because victory will come through taking risks after all.
A team must have a good forechecking system to win games. It’s imperative that you disrupt the opponent in their zone, create chaos and turn over pucks for possession time with it. Without this skill your chances at scoring goals are slim-to-none; don’t let them score without having an advantage first hand (or second).
What are some of the forechecking systems a team will use?
The system that is implemented in the game will depend primarily on three things:
- The coach’s philosophy
- The players on the team and their skills and abilities
- The situation of the game
Coach’s philosophy- When it comes to winning a hockey game, there are many different ideas about how you can approach the ice and get your team on top. One coach might want his players hanging back while another may have more aggression in order for them to take risks near opponents’ goalies so they will score more goals than before. The forecheck also has an effect; some coaches prefer conservative strategies where everyone stays together as one unit at skating distance from the opponent’s nets versus aggressive ones with pressure all over which makes scoring easier since any shot taken becomes possible due to high risk-high reward tactics employed by such teams (think NHL).
Player’s skills and abilities- The coach will choose a system that best suits the players he has available to work with. If they are fast skaters who love playing physical hockey, then an aggressive forechecking style might be more effective than one prefers in which there is less emphasis on speed and relying heavily upon boxing out your opponent instead.
Situation of the game- When a team is down by one goal, it’s important that they learn how to play conservatively. However, there will be times when switching styles might help – like if an opposing player has the puck in his own crease or just refuses to shoot anyway even though you’re blocking him perfectly well.
Let’s look at the different forechecking systems that a team can implement:
Objective: With this system, the players will be in a triangle with one player on the puck and two supports. The second can move up for scoring chances or stay back as needed to defend against attacks from behind; while the third man provides depth at either end of your formation—whether you’re trying to score goals or prevent them.
Players: This is a great coaching system for younger players or at the start of any season. It’s straightforward and easy to teach, as it will help them learn basic checking skills like reading plays quickly before reacting accordingly.
- Easy to teach and requires basic checking skill
- Stresses pressuring the puck carrier
- Forwards learn how to work together
- Prevents the opposition from breaking out 3-on-2
1 – 2 – 2
Objective: The 1-2-2 formation is a popular system that encourages defense. The center of the ice rink will usually have more control over puck movement while wingers stay off to each side, making it difficult for offenses in 3 on 2 situations because they lack numbers against goalies who can skate quickly between posts thanks mostly due to their wide stance at all times.
Players: This is a system that should be used when your team has big wingers, as it will allow them to control the play-along boards. It’s also fairly simple for coaches or players alike (most likely) because they’ll find themselves in 1-2 -2 situations often enough during games.
- Adaptable to most breakout plays from the opposition
- Balanced between the positions with no one being key
- Essential for the wingers to control the boards
- Stresses positional play while only needing basic adjustments
1 – 4
Objective: In the 1-4 system, only one forward will enter into the offensive zone while the other three drops back as defensemen. It has also been known by its more popular name of “neutral zone trap.”
Players: This strategy is often employed by teams with a lack of talented and skilled players. When the team has less talent, it tries to stop more favorably matched opponents from scoring points on them; at times this may be done in order to protect leads late game-ending baskets or shots near the goalpost area which would make winning easier if completed before time runs out.
- Does not stress pressuring and simply gives up the offensive zone
- Two forwards and defense will create a type of wall that is difficult to penetrate
- Always four players to defend against three forwards
- Four players are tasked with more territorial responsibility
- Forecheck that creates opportunities by turnovers in the neutral zone with quick counterattacks
1 – 1- 3 Off Wing Stay back (Sometimes called Left-Wing Lock)
Objective: This forecheck combines aggressiveness with conservatism. The Centre and winger on the side of the puck will attack it aggressively in the opponent’s zone while players positioned nearest to them act as third defensemen, capable jump deeper if they gain possession/control.
In this variation of the system, left-wingers are expected to stay back and act as a rover. They will be responsible for defensive awareness while also having an opportunity come up if necessary with offense from their position on the ice rink surface.
Players: This system is great for teams with skaters because the players can get in deep and attack quickly, which should lead to more opportunities. The third forward may be able to take advantage of any openings that appear by playing slot minutes if needed; however, he’ll need some skill there too.
- Allows innovation from forwards on counterattacks
- Prevents 3-on-2s from the opposition
- Relies on skating from forwards
- Can be tweaked to implement a more rigid left-wing lock
2 -1- 2
Objective: The forechecking system of the Soviets was extremely aggressive and brought in during the 1980s. The team would send 2 forwards to pressure one defenseman or winger, hoping they will make poor passes that can result in turnovers; this also applies when playing against other teams with similar styles because all players on the ice rink won’t dominate.
Players: The center and defense must work seamlessly together to pull off this move. They need an agile team with skaters who can adapt quickly in order for them all to succeed at their jobs.
- This system is difficult to learn
- Players will be interchanging positions as they cover each and support each other
- Opposition is to be attacked at all times and in all areas
- The defensemen are more aggressive and will often pinch up along the boards – the forward will need to know to come back to cover the defensemen
Objective: This is an aggressive system employed when a team needs to get their opponents on the back foot. The forwards basically have no defensive responsibilities and try to put constant pressure at all times, while those in blue are encouraged through wider positions which allow them more space for pinching into the play offensively – just like they were taught.
Players: In the event of a shoot-out, teams will need to be fast and skilled. The risk should not really come into play until the near the game end when it’s too late for mistakes.
- Forwards only concern is to pressure the puck and not defensive responsibilities
- The defense is looking for opportunities to come into the offensive zone and will take risks
- Forwards will all play deep within the opposition zone
- Used as a strategy to get goals when they desperately need them
3 -2 Press
Objective: This is an interesting system that’s used when the other team has possession in your zone or just before halftime. The three forwards will retreat deep into their own end while pressure on them builds up, then they’ll turn over any pucks gained by pressured passes behind enemy lines so you can get some offensive opportunities.
Players: This strategy is best used when you have a great offensive player who can skate and keep up with the speed of play. The players implementing this will usually be their team’s top-scoring forwards, as they’ll need to be on point in order for it to work effectively against most teams.
- The key strategy is to have three forwards pressure the puck at the same time
- High intensity and quick strategy
- Done in key situations such as at the end of the period
Watch hockey and try to spot the system that the team is using. Wayne Gretzky says, “Don’t skate towards where the puck will be – go right before it happens!” Knowing this can help you know what players are trying to do as well as anticipated mistakes. It also lets us see when someone makes a mistake which could lead to an attack or defense goal for our side.