There are a number of skills required for a defenceman to reach their potential, including skating, breakouts, regroups, 1-on-1 defending, neutral zone defending, shooting, offensive play, defensive zone coverage as well as more detailed technical skills as players' skills advance.
A defender must be a strong, agile skater. Work on the skating basics defensemen utilize in every game and practice and we need to design drills to teach and reinforce these with repetitions. Mimic the agility skills defense use and make these as game‐like as possible progressing from skating, skating with a puck and skating when passing and receiving. Tactical play can then be incorporated such as gap control, angling, reading and reacting.
Breakouts and a key skill for defenders and the essence of attacking. Puck recovery is key and making a good first choice/pass is imperative. D must support each other and communicate (as does the goalie and F’s). Often the simplest play is the best. Practice puck retrieval and breakout options every practice so it becomes second nature. Stress the importance of passing and receiving every practice.
Heavy emphasis on skating fundamentals: defenseman specific into tactical drills
Objectives of the Defencemen Pathway