How to Forecheck in Ice Hockey

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Hockey coaches rarely agree on anything, but one thing they all demand is maximum effort from their players. This is especially true of a player who is not a superstar and has to depend on grit, hustle, instinct and intelligence to make a contribution to his team. Non-stop hustle is a key ingredient for any player who tries to force the opposition into mistakes by forechecking.

  • Skate hard into the offensive zone as soon as your team has take possession of the puck. If the center, wing or defenseman carrying the puck does not see an open teammate advancing to the opponent's blue line, he is likely to dump the puck beyond the endline. A fast teammate may be able to get to the puck before the opponent, but the opponent may come up with the puck instead. This is when a good forechecker can take possession and create an outstanding scoring opportunity.

  • Forechecking is all about anticipating what the puck carrier will do next. This is not as hard as it sounds. When the puck is in the defenseman's control deep in his team's zone--and the forechecker's offensive zone--he wants to carry or pass the puck out of harm's way. A strong skater and stickhandler will likely carry the puck himself, while a less accomplished skater and stickhandler will almost certainly pass it. The forechecker can improve his chances of taking the puck away by knowing his opponent's skill level.

  • Skate hard at the defenseman, and go for his body with your shoulder. The rules of ice hockey allow the attacking team to initiate physical contact with the player in possession of the puck. By delivering a well-placed shoulder or forearm to the puck carrier's upper body, you can cause him to lose possession of the puck. At the instant you make contact, spin hard and take possession of the puck. Your attempt at forechecking has been successful.

  • Skate hard at the puck carrier, and be aware of your opponents' position on the ice. If he is not a strong skater, he is probably going to pass. Anticipate which teammate he will pass to and jump into that lane just as he prepares to pass the puck. If you are correct--perhaps about 25 percent of the time--you can intercept the pass and streak in on goal for a superior scoring opportunity. Many player will want to make 2 or 3 moves as they move in on the goaltender, but one of two strides and a quick shot may be even more effective because the steal and the quick shot will often take the goalie by surprise.

  • Once you have possession, you should be ready to take advantage of the outstanding position and create a scoring opportunity. If you are inside the faceoff circle to the goalie's right or left, you may want to shoot the puck immediately. However, if a teammate is bearing in on net, a drop pass or cross-ice pass to that speeding player may create an even better scoring opportunity. Whether you shoot or pass, remember to move in on the goalie and attempt to pick up a rebound and score if the chance presents itself.

Tips & Warnings

  • Watch as much videotape of your opponents as possible. The more you know about their skating and stickhandling tendencies, the easier it will be for you forecheck effectively.
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