Session #5a: Face Off Technique
A step by step guide to winning more face offs
How to win a Faceoff in Hockey
Have a plan when you approach the face-off dot
There are many different ways to win a face-off, how you plan to win the face off depends on where the face-off is taking place. In the neutral zone you may try something cheeky like tapping the puck forwards and blasting past the centermen, in your own end you may tie-up the other centermen and have your defence or winger come in and get the puck, in the offensive zone you could win the puck back on your fore-hand, back-hand, between your legs or even put it right on net. Never approach the face-off without a plan.
Let your team mates know about your plan
Think of where you want to win the face-off to, and let your players know. If you are going to win it back to the defencemen, give a little wink to the d-man so he knows the puck is coming. If you are going to tie up the centermen let your players know so they can be prepared.
Notice the player stance, nice and low, choked up on the stick, and they both have their bottom hand turned over.
I probably said this about 20 times in the video, haha. When you are low to the ice you can react faster to the puck drop and you will be anchored to the ice. It is important to be nice and stable when the puck drops in case the other Centermen tries to push into the circle.
Choke up on the stick
In the video I show you how I like to hold the stick, but it’s not just me. Watch almost any NHL player and they move their top hand about halfway down the stick, and their bottom hand right near the blade. This helps increase their reaction time, and allows them to get more power and leverage on the stick. If both players go for the puck at the same time you need to be able to out muscle the other guy, so it is important to get your bottom hand close to the blade.
Switch up your grip
If you are going to win the puck on your backhand or between your legs you should modify the grip on your stick. Roll your bottom hand over and hold the stick as if you were going to cross-check someone in the teeth. This grip helps you improve your quickness and power, I show the grip in the video above.
Use your body
You don’t always need to win the puck back with your stick, there are other options. You can forget about the puck altogether and just tie up the other centerman (and have your winger or defence come in and get the puck) or you can just chop the other players stick (moving it out of the way) and then go for the puck. You can also try spinning into the face-off dot and then using your feet to kick the puck to one of your players.
Know your opponent
Knowing your opponent is very helpful if you want to win more faceoffs, if the other centermen likes to go for the crisp win every time, modify your face-off plan, instead of going for the puck, just chop his stick out of the way, then get the puck. I had a centermen who would always push the puck forwards and then blast past me, I knew it was coming so I quickly closed my legs. The puck bounced off my shin pad while he flew past me, I then grabbed the puck split the D and got a shot on net.
You can get to know the centermen by paying attention to their technique when you line up for a faceoff and while the other lines are facing off. If there is a particularly good centerman you know of try to remember what team he is on so you can be prepared the next time you play them!
Tape up the slash zone
Centermen tend to break sticks more than other players, it’s because the flex zone of the stick takes so much abuse during faceoffs. I like to tape up the bottom part of my stick to avoid those little chips that eventually lead to the stick breaking mid-shot. The tape also gives you a bit of grip during the face off.