A faceoff is when two opposing teams line up in designated positions, in most cases an exact mirror image of each other, and the referee drops the puck on the faceoff dot between the two opposing centers. The team that gains control of the puck is considered to have won the faceoff. Contrary to what many people believe, winning a faceoff does not mean that you were the first player to touch the puck. Control of the puck must be gained by your team. In fact, when faceoff statistics are taken, this is the rule they go by.
Winning a Faceoff –
- The key to winning a faceoff is to first know where you plan on putting the puck and organize your teammates accordingly. You are the Quarterback so to speak.
- Each player has a responsibility, whether it is tying up an opposing player or picking up the puck, and this includes the center. Many centers do not realize that their defensive responsibility is the opposing center. Winning the faceoff does not mean that you can let the opposing center forecheck, or go after the player with the puck.
- Avoid drawing the puck to positions that could be dangerous if the puck is turned-over by your teammate.(Ex. In front of the net)
- Know what to do after you have won the faceoff so you can avoid turnovers.
How to Win a Faceoff or Draw –
- Make sure both hands are square and firm on the shaft of your stick, but DO NOT lean on you stick. Leaning on your stick will drastically reduce your speed and power.
- Make sure the entire blade is in contact with the ice when you come through the dot. This will help you power through any opposing center’s stick and allow you to draw the puck out of the drop area more easily.
- Always look at the puck being released from the referee’s hand so that you can follow it down to the dot.
- Do not sweep at the puck, simply lift the blade of your stick with your bottom hand and slap down through the faceoff dot from the top in the direction that you wish the puck to go. Since most pucks are not dropped flat, coming from the top down will increase your chances of winning the draw, even with a bouncing puck.
- Stride slightly into the dot so that the puck will be closer to you giving you more power and to help shield the puck from the defender.
Faceoff Tricks –
- Many centers believe that by touching the puck first that they have won the faceoff and therefore, will hit the puck to your team, so let them. This will save you the effort of having to win the draw and allow you to focus on defending the opposing center.
- When the puck is dropped simply extend your stick out as you stride toward your opponent and block the shaft of his stick with yours. Trying to block the blade of their stick will not have the same affect do to the various strengths of sticks and the players who hold them.
- Use the last trick and simply leave the puck for your teammate by skating into the opposing center and blocking his stick.
- Most referees will not drop the puck flat so don’t be in a rush to get your stick into the dot. By simply delaying a fraction of a second you can guarantee that you will be the first to make contact with the puck.
- If you are having trouble winning a faceoff, simply pay attention to where your opponent is winning the puck too and simply put your blade in the direct line of the puck and deflect it away, otherwise direct your winger to go after it.
Note* Be aware of your surroundings and don’t be afraid to use the opposing team’s positioning to your advantage by shooting the puck off the draw or firing it out past their defensemen if you have a fast winger who can out-race them. Don’t be afraid to try new things but make sure that if you take any chances that the faceoff is not in your defensive zone.
For more Faceoff tips, schedule a private or team session with Steve Phillips @(805) 358 – PUCK