Dave Leger, a coaching veteran of 20+ years has coached all over the world, including Jr. A, Major Junior and University in Canada, and professional hockey in the ECHL, Asia League, Erste Ligue, and Poland. He won the Asia League championship as well as a silver and bronze medal with the Polish U20 and U18 teams, respectively.
Dave is joining the Coaching Project as a guest coach to introduce the “Swarm” defensive zone coverage.
The goal of playing defense is to get the puck back. Dave takes us through a strategy to outnumber the puck in the defensive zone and then transition to offense.
Swarm Defensive Zone Coverage
Here is a short video to share with hockey coaches to consider as an alternative to the traditional approach for a team to defend and transition from their defensive zone. I have also included a practice drill to reinforce the habits needed to execute in game situations. Hopefully this video resource can create good discussions within your coaching staff to see how your team can maximize the skills among your players.
Should you have an issue loading the video, you can view it on Youtube here.
A few key points
Your team should be patient to await an opportunity to add numbers to a corner battle. Once a corner battle has unfolded then support players can join the “overload” – usually it would follow that the D1 initiates and the low forward (likely the centre) is the first support. If there are two attacking forwards then the D2 can join the battle to outnumber the defending side.
Important factors include the following habits from your team:
1. Add numbers under control
2. Aggressive stick-on puck habits to create a turnover or loose puck
3. Remaining players positioned for transition with best options:
-Nearest Face Off Dot;
-Back of the net;
-Strong side wing closest to the boards;
If the opposing team has possession of the puck (below the top of the circles) and are not in either corner the defending players should remain inside the house for traditional defensive zone coverage. If a pass is made to the defencemen on offence then the defending wingers should sprint to the player in possession and lead with the stick on the ice and in the path towards the defenceman’s stick.
To learn more about Dave’s career please click this link and you can connect with him on twitter at @legerdav