Chalk talk #1

What to do without the puck

If you want to be a great hockey player, you need to master how to play when you do not have possession of the puck, but early player development usually focuses on things like shooting and passing and other things involving puck possession.  In this Chalk Talk, we’ll be covering what you do when the opposing team has the puck (both forechecks and backchecks), and when your teammates have the puck on the rush.

Chalk Talk 1

Supplemental Videos


1-2-2 (foosball): If you’re looking for a forecheck that is slightly more advanced than the one I go through in the Chalk Talk, this video is a good one.  At the end of this video, he goes through typical ways this forecheck often breaks down.


This is a compilation of what looks like team Sweden--no commentary.  The point I'd like you to take from these plays is the backchecker always stays skating forwards (no trying to pivot and 'play D'), and they steer the puck carrier to the outside of the ice.  The play that starts about 20 sec in is a great example (minus the body check -- you won't be allowed to do that!), as is the one after it.

Stick and Pucks:

Typically, players use stick and puck to work on skills involving puck possession (shooting/passing etc). However, there are things you can do at a Stick and Puck that will help you improve your skills at playing without the puck.

  • Work on skating--everything described in this Chalk Talk requires you to not only be fast, but also be agile.
  • Work on skating with your head up!
  • Work on edges, trying to maintain visual contact with something (example: a point on the boards/glass, the net) as you turn and pivot
  • Work on stick awareness as you skate--hold your stick in different ways so as to be open for a pass from all angles

If you have a partner:

  • Work on the backcheck: give one player a headstart and the other chase and try to angle them (your relative speeds dictate how much of a headstart to give)
  • Work on the forecheck: dump the puck in and one player retrieves it and the other tries to get it from them or keep it on the boards


I have a whole series of off-ice workouts (Month Plans) from beginner to advanced that are designed to build power and endurance for hockey players. Nothing specific to this topic of playing without the puck, but definitely designed for skating!

Change the way you watch the game. Pay attention to a specific player for a whole shift (admittedly a little difficult on TV) watch what they do when they don’t have the puck instead of only watching the play with the puck all the time.