One of the things I noticed when I started playing rec hockey was that guys really, really liked to play their position.

It’s a generalization of course, but it seemed that for forwards, there were three lanes – left, center and right – and that was the area of ice players occupied. Guys would come off the ice yelling “right side, right side!” and the right winger would jump on to take the other right winger’s place.

In pro hockey you still change for your position, but once you’re out there you’re generally just a forward, with a starting designation on faceoffs, and a lane to cover in your neutral zone defense.

What I mean is, everything is “F1, F2, and F3.”

On the forecheck, the first guy on the puck is F1, regardless of his actual designated position.

The second forward in the zone – F2 - will read the play. If F1 got body on the d-man and is in a puck battle, that second guy will try to fish the thing out. If the d-man got solid possession, he’ll take away the strong-side boards. With “keep it out of the middle” drilled into everyone’s head, it’s the most likely place the puck is going.

F3 also reads – he heads to the slot area and stays above the opposing center, but if the puck goes corner to corner, he’ll go down on the puck while F2 will rotate wall-to-far-wall (he’s reading to get the jump on that), and F1 will come up to the slot (again, above the center).

You always need that guy high.

Once you get the puck, any thought of positioning outside of “keep a guy high” is basically thrown out the window.

Always thinking on backcheck: “Which ‘F’ am I?”

On defense, it’s not necessarily the center who goes down low, as is often thought. It’s supposed to be whoever is back in the d-zone first, F1. If the natural center is covering for a winger who was F1, they can switch whenever they read it to be a good time. If there wasn’t one, then you’re stuck, but coverage is perfect.

F2 goes directly to the slot, no conversation. If you’re a right winger coming back as F2 and the puck is on the right side, congrats, you’re heading to the slot and are now a left winger.

This is the reason that fantasy hockey leagues that make you fill every forward position make little sense. Forwards work as a unit.

It’s also why players who can’t think the game kill your team. You come up through minor hockey and don’t learn rotations, so some guys have the lane thing burned into their brain. Suddenly you’re all scrambling to cover for a guy in the wrong spot.

It’s not a cut at rec players in any way – I damn well don’t care about rotating on the forcheck now that I don’t have to, so it makes sense to stick to a lane.

Right wingers, left wingers and centerman – they’re all just forwards.

Comments (17)

  1. This has been the biggest change on my rec team for sure. So many guys think Position for Offense and Man on Defense (“I’m a RW covering #7″). We all rotate now, and it’s throwing the other teams into conniptions.

  2. Great post…love these kind of “behind the game” posts.

    I’ve only ever played rec. league, but I want to introduce this concept more…it makes way more sense then just playing a side.

  3. On behalf of the rec player that sucks that sticks to his RW lane, I hate all you F1, F2, F3 players that skate around me like the giant pylon that I am. My universe is much happier when the other players suck as much as I do and stick to their happy little lanes. :)

  4. Good post and very true. Rec league teams that can get out of the lane mentality usually light it up- for so many reasons. Instead of skating away from the defenseman in a straight line on a breakout, not getting three forwards behind their net, the list goes on. So, I um really wish my team would read this…..

  5. I had a center who would scream “stay on your side” any time I carried the puck over the middle of the ice. After a few times I would really go east-west to bug the hell out of him.

    Great read, love theory like this.

  6. My rec league team has been working on this as well. What do you call this style of positioning? If I google “hockey positions” or something similar I get the usual, “stay on your side”. Any websites/books that explore this a bit more, have drills and the like? Thanks for any help.

  7. Your position helps with lines changes and it where you go for faceoffs (And even that is a challenge in beer leagues). Once the puck is dropped you react to the play and see where it takes you.

    Great point about fantasy leagues making you dress a certain number of RW’s or LW’s. Should just be Forward spots, which The Score has in their fantasy pool. Our favourite fantasy pool this year.

  8. Dave K – Ha, I love the self-deprecation. Cliff, I’m not sure what you’d call. Rotational over positional? And hey, Dangle, thanks for theScore love. This is the first year I haven’t played fantasy (I figured taking this job might be time consuming), I really miss it. Next year for sure.

  9. Man, I have yet to play on a rec team whose forwards dont all (to borrow a phrase from a distinguished hockey blogger) “chase the puck like a puppy after a ball”. But then again, I live and play in the South.

  10. Ya, this might be a good idea for REC hockey but not for organized competitive hockey, if the game isn’t at least a bit structured then goals get scored easier because no one is in a defensive position, players would get mixed up as to where they are supposed to go, and you would end up with multiple players in the same position… good for rec but nothing else

    • Steve,

      If you think this is true, there are a lot of teams that will be looking forward to playing yours.

    • This post in no way advocates a lack of structure or organization in team play. This post is emphasizing the importance of situational awareness and adaptability as a priority over arbitrary position designations, especially as the pace of the game increases with the players’ ability in the upper ranks of hockey. It is just serving as an explanation to readers/players who have yet to see that particular light yet. However, I have played on many a rec league team in which some players (simply due to inexperience) on the team had neither the ability or awareness to handle making such quick decisions so yes, it was safer for them to “just play their position”.

  11. Growing up in northern VA (DC Suburbs), for the past 15 years I have been able to play both ice and inline hockey year round on competitive travel and tournament teams. Most guys I play rec against now never grew up playing inline (which is 4 on 4, no icing or offsides) and have just the LW, C, RW attitude you’re referring to. Also, I must admit that most of my ice hockey coaches (certainly much less experienced than coaches from NE US or Canada) drilled this into the team even up through high school. However, my experiences in competitive inline, which is typically short, fast, tournament style play are really what taught me to read and react to the game and focus on overall strategies and objectives. Our inline team traveled to 20-25 tournaments a year all over the NE and SE and learned quickly that playing any kind of position specific style was a sure way to lose. With such an open surface, and limited stoppages, the ability to read the play, adapt and respond on the fly is imperative. Inline doesn’t get a lot of respect from most of the hockey world. However, think it offers the opportunity to teach a lot of important lessons that can be used on any surface because of the rare opportunities it offers with such a high pace, free flowing playing style.

  12. The fishing rod mounts five years I had been away seemed to have collapsed into five days.

  13. We are nearly all going to be a solution
    obstet gynecol 2005 for it. To keep fresh flavor
    longer, olive oil, geape seed oil inhibit the proteolytic collagenase, elastase, and
    hyaluronidase enzymes that degrade your tissues and polymer.
    Easy, healthy way: Eating fresh fruits and vegetables provide great vitamins and minerals you need on a daily basis.
    It is mainly essential if you are pregnant. Boil neem leaves
    in 100 ml of water remains.

  14. Another problemHoyle also had the fishing rod setup big bass tiebreaker.

    Samm Starr and Brady Sherman of fishing rod setup McPherson won the event
    with a total weight of 12 pounds, 8 oz.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *