Sunday, May 4, 2008
Line Changes on the Fly
Hockey Line Changes
Line changes in ice hockey are usually pretty straight forward, but sometimes things can get a little tangled up. Here’s a couple tips to make sure your shift change goes smoothly.
Watch the Player, Not the Play
When the hockey player you’re taking off is nearing the end of their shift, keep a close eye on him. Watch him wherever he goes on the ice. Don’t take your eyes off him. When your player makes his move to change on the fly, it is up to you to be ready. Not having a drink of water, not tying your skate, and not watching the play at the other end of the hockey rink. Be ready.
Hustle onto the Ice
Whether you jump over the boards or go through the gate, be on the ice before the other player is off. In our league you can jump on the ice as long as the other player is within 5 feet of the bench. We can usually get away with a little farther, we just don’t know by how much. It’s up to the ref to decide just how far that extra distance is (if any). You don’t want to jump on too early and risk a penalty for too many men on the ice.
Play it Safe
Make sure it’s safe before you decide to make a line change on the fly. Only change when your team has possession of the puck, or the puck has just been dumped into the offensive zone. It is extremely dangerous to change when the other hockey team has control of the puck.
Once you decide to make a change, skate hard to the bench. Even though you may be exhausted from ‘leaving it all on the ice,’ gather up your last ounce of energy and hustle off . The sooner you get off, the sooner your teammate can get on. Quick line changes can give your hockey team an extra edge in a close game. Skate fast when finishing your shift and your teammates will notice. Good teams do this. Good players do this. Average players do not.
Make Some Noise
On your way to the bench, let the player that’s replacing you know your coming off. Bang your stick, yell your position, or better yet, yell their name. If the next player isn’t on the ice by the time you’re off, you may need to yell again. (Take a quick look at the play before you get too exited. You may be unaware that the whistle has blown and the play has stopped. You don’t want to freak out on your teammate for no reason.)
Bonus Hockey Tip
Be aware of any changes to your usual shift when your team has a penalty. No harm in double-checking. You can even call out the name or number of the player you're taking off if there's been a change; Yelling something like "I got Evan" sometimes helps.
Check out these great Hockey DVD's and Books at Championship Productions - where the coaches shop.
Anything tips to Add?