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Face Offs

October 25, 2010 General No Comments

By Gianni Raimondo

Every player should learn the basic elements of taking a face-off, no matter what position you play. You do not have to be a center to take a face-off. There might be an opportunity during the game when you will be called upon to take a face-off.

Becoming a face-off specialist is more of a mental game than a physical one. When you are in the face-off circle, you must have confidence in yourself and believe you can win the face-off. That is the first step in becoming better with your face-offs.

Photo taken by Colin Dillon

Before you enter the face-off circle, you must first decide what you are going to do with the puck. Will you draw it back or push it forward? Then position your teammates to where you want them to be on the ice (this is extremely important).

The player taking the face-off is responsible for making sure the other skaters are in proper position.

In addition, look at the positioning of your face-off opponent.
1) Is his body turned to the left or right?
2) Is he using a backhand grip on the stick?
3) Is one skate back away from the face-off circle?

You should always look for signs from your opponent as to what he intends to do with the face-off and adjust your strategy.

If their body is turned or one skate is slid back away from the circle, chances are they want to move the puck in that direction. If they use a backhand grip on the stick, this usually means he wants to draw the puck back. Half the battle is figuring out what your opponent is going to do. You should always look for signs from your opponent as to what he intends to do with the face-off and adjust your strategy.

Steps to taking a face-off:
Place your stick blade on the edge of the face-off circle.
Evenly distribute the weight on your skates.
Choke up on the stick by sliding both hands down the shaft of the stick three to four inches and crouch down.
Grip your stick firmly.
Point your toes forward.
Once you decide what you are doing to do, keep your eyes on the hand of the linesman anticipating the drop of the puck

There will be times when the person you are up against is much quicker and has better success than you during the face-off. You can combat this by either choking up on the stick a little bit more or take a defensive approach. The defensive approach is achieved by attacking the stick of your opponent. Bring your stick under your opponent’s stick a few inches above the blade and lift up.

This will eliminate your opponent from using his stick and enable you to either move the puck with your stick or tie up your opponent and kick the puck with your skate to one of your teammates. Attacking the stick is also a good approach to use when the face-off occurs near your own goal. In that situation, you never want to lose the face-off “cleanly”. You either want to beat or draw with your opponent but never give them a clear shot at your net.

This first appeared in the November/2007 issue of Hockey Player Magazine®
© Copyright 1991-2010Hockey Player® LLC and Hockey Player Magazine®

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