Beer League Bench Coach - DEE-FENSE

Welcome to the second installment of getting the most out of your beer league hockey team. For those of you who have played significant amounts of organized hockey, this will be a bit elementary. But for those of you who may never have coached, or who may be rising through the ranks of adult rec league hockey, this is a concept that a majority of hockey players talk about, but don’t fully understand.

One of the greatest challenges of playing rec league hockey is being a fan of hockey. The difference between watching the NHL (or any professional level of hockey) is that the game they’re playing is not what we do. I mean, SURE… we’re all skating, we have sticks, pucks, and all the cool equipment that they have. What we DON’T have, however, is the incredible degree of skill, knowledge, and repetition that those players have amassed over their 15 - 20 year pursuit of becoming a professional hockey player. Simply put, we play checkers, they play chess. More aptly put, we finger paint and they’re renaissance portrait artists.

With that understanding, team defense is founded on trust. If everyone knows their respective role and performs it appropriately, it works like a charm.

Simple Defense - 4+1 or Box +1

If, in addition to your drive toward beer league championships, you happen to have kids and are considering becoming a coach for your child’s hockey team, I can’t offer a better endorsement than Weisstech Hockey. Jeremy Weiss provides some of the most concise coaching resources for teaching the game’s systems and tactics. I’ve built competitive youth teams around his systems for years and had great success. It stands to reason that I leverage him for this post. Here’s a solid video on the Box + 1 - WATCH IT.

A few notes about the practicality of running the Box + 1 in rec league.

  • This is an extremely simple system and is very quick to adopt.

  • This system requires a Center with substantial endurance.

  • Wingers and puck hogs are a danger to this system.

Great fit with a little complexity - Sagging Zone

A few notes about the sagging wing in rec league:

  • I highly recommend having your players watch the video. It seems like a simple system, but as I’ve coached this system a few times it’s not as easy as it appears.

  • If you can get ice time to run through it at a stick time, or during a warm up, it’s incredibly helpful.

  • It is the optimum balance between zone and man-to-man defense which relies on the entire team trusting each other and conserving energy.

  • Reduces mismatches against better players and teams with advanced hockey knowledge. Really levels the playing field.

In the next post I’ll cover the incredibly important ‘BREAKOUT’ which arguably is the single greatest cause of turnovers and goals against in beer league hockey.

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