Face-offs are sometimes the forgotten strategies on the ice. They’re an integral part of the game because you definitely want control of the puck, but practicing the face-off often takes a backseat to other components. These questions will help you develop a winning strategy.

What’s Your Objective in a Face-Off?

Obviously, the objective in any face-off is to get the puck, but your strategy is going to rely on what you want to happen afterwards. That means that your strategy is going to depend on where the face-off occurs. In the offensive zone, the goal is literally a goal. In the defensive zone, you want to keep the puck from the other team and ultimately get it back to the other end of the ice. In the neutral zone, you basically want to combine the two in your favor. From there, your strategy needs to focus on what to do when you win or lose the puck in the face-off.

What’s Your Objective If You Win the Draw?

In the defensive zone, your objective is a breakout. You want to position your wingers and defensemen so the center can easily move the puck to them while keeping it away from the other skaters. Cut off access to the net and keep coverage tight, placing right-handed and left-handed players on the side that gives them the best advantage without having to take a loop to get the puck back down the ice.

In the offensive zone, your objective is to create a play that gets through the mass of skaters blocking the net. Try to keep your shooting lanes open by keeping one winger on the face-off circle and the other nearer the opposite circle for optimum shooting opportunities.

What’s Your Objective If You Lose the Draw?

In the defensive zone, your objective is to maintain regular defense coverage to protect the zone. Whether you play man-on-man or zone, your skaters have to stay in between the other team and the netminder, so keep them near the hashmarks inside so the winger can help defend the shooting lanes.

In the offensive zone, your objective is to regain possession by cutting off the breakaway. Defend the corner because that’s where the breakaway is likely to originate. Plus, getting the puck back in the corner will let your skaters set up passing opportunities that will ultimately free up the shooting lanes and let you get back to your shots on goal.

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