What Are Team Tactics?


What Are Team Tactics?

Team Tactics

Matt Keillor

What are Team Tactics?

According to Hockey Canadas LTPD plan, Atom and Peewee coaches should be introducing and developing team tactics. Although it is a small percentage in comparison to the individual technical/tactical component it is still a crucial stage in the development of a young athlete. Essentially we are in the core stages of building what most refer to as hockey sense.

Hockey Canada describes Team Tactics as the action of two or more players using a combination of technical skills in order to create or take away the advantage of an opponent. Team tactics can be catigorized into two sub groups; Offensive Tactics and Defensive Tactics. Note the words “combination of technical skills”. Ever wonder why your team just cant perform a simple first pass on a breakout? Most likely the player has not developed the proper technical skill required to perform what your asking of he or she tactically.

Examples of Offensive tactics:give and go, attack triangle, low delay, low cycle, forecheck, dot drive, etc.

Examples of Defensive tactics: DZone coverage/positioning , F1-D2 Roles/responsabilities, switching, etc.

Teaching Team Tactics, Systems vs. Concepts

A system in hockey can be described a pre designed path or area that a group of players will skate or occupy both offensively and defensively.

A concept in hockey can be described as a principal or approach to a situation or circumstance both offensively and defensively.

I will be honest, its way easier to teach a group of players a system. F1 goes here, F2 here, F3 over there D1/D2 take this area. It’s almost as easy on the ice as it is on the board, some coaches going as far as painting a players path on the ice surface for them to fallow. So now you have all 5 players with pre-determined jobs, and the puck drops and all a sudden the opposing player makes a great move and your path doesn’t work so well anymore. Now you’re yelling at the players to adjust their path to compensate for this and their looking at you with blank faces. Ever been here before? I have.

A player that is taught exclusively in this manor will severely under develop his or her ability to read and react. This is where concepts come in. Teaching young athletes through concepts allows for creativity, it forces players to Identify, process and make decisions on their own based on what’s happening around them. Video is a great tool for teaching concepts. Show players scenarios and ask questions. Practice with purpose, have you players try different breakouts and let the for-checkers read and react. Allow for mistakes and creativity. Correct the mistakes positively and reinforce the proper habits you want to see at all times. Use the same language you will use in a game at practice and allow the players to have open communication throughout the teaching process.

Example of what a team Tactical Concept sheet could look like

OZ Forcheck

-F1 Hunt the puck carrier, force inside outside (eliminate their ability to go east and west)

-F2 beat their second option

-F3 beat their third option

-D1 hold strong side blue, auto pinch on all second passes or rims

-D2 staggered D side support in middle blue, close gap on weak side outlet

-If puck moves east or west all Fwds reload through middle above the puck (5 hard strides)

(Note F2 and F3 are forced to read and react and will need to anticipate where the opposition’s next options are. D1 also has some options here, he or she will have to identify if they should be pinching based on what the opposition is doing.

Rushes against/Back checking

-F1 if you can catch puck carrier before red line, take him or her. If not allow the D to play the 1on1 with opposition fwds and you take opposition F3 or trailer.

-D do not give up the middle of the ice, pressure the pass early and make the puck carrier hold onto it.

-D one stick length gap at red line, man on man at blue line

-F2/F3 eliminate high slot options

-Everyone communicates their man

(Note F1 here is reading and reacting the entire time and will be identifying the third threat witch could be anywhere on the ice. F2/F3 will also be identifying any late threats and will need to be communicating. The D is being told here to protect the middle of the ice. This is one of the most common and widely used Defensive concepts. The middle of the ice is the most dangerous area and should be protected at all times)


-First player back, man on, attack low to high, body between the man and the net

-Second player back, support first player, in between him and the net

-Third player back, net front, see the puck, see the man

-Fourth player back, slot, see the puck, see the man

-Fifth player back, strong side high, see the puck, see the man

-Always attack low to high, stick on puck

-Bodies in shooting lanes, sticks in passing lanes

-Block shots on one knee, never lay down

-Communication is key on switches

(Notice language used like “see the puck, see the man” this is an easy way to identify good defensive body position. The idea here is if you can see the puck and see the opponent whom you’re covering, then you’re in good position. Phrases like “attack low to high” is an effective defensive method where a player attacks with his stick then his or her body. Attacking the stick first forces a player to have to change direction; if you attack with the body first the opposing player can keep his or her momentum and direction)