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Roller Hockey

Get It and Go!
By Jack Brum


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In roller hockey, put the puck off the boards, around your opponent and fight for possession. This is better than the classic ice hockey move of just dumping it in.Copyright: BBS
Ice and roller hockey share the same simple offensive objective: create time and space between yourself and the opposing team in order to move the puck into position for a high-percentage scoring opportunity. The difference is that roller hockey was purposely set up to be more “wide open” than ice hockey. The designers of roller hockey ensured that there would be more time and space for the offense to operate by eliminating one skater per side as well as the offsides rules. Because there are less restrictions on forward progress in roller hockey, clever roller players have a single intention when picking up a loose puck: “Get it and Go!”

During the course of a game, the successful player must be proficient in three critical components of skilled performance: sensing the environment, deciding what to do, and executing an action. The sensor component uses the player’s visual, auditory, and kinesthetic senses to scan the surrounding environment for teammates, the opposition, the puck, and everything else going on in the game. The decision-making component requires the player to decide the best action to take based on his “read” of the situation. Finally, the executor component enables him to effectively carry out the prescribed action.

Roles Interdependent
These roles are interdependent because a weakness in one role limits proficiency in another. For example, a strong skater who lacks solid decision-making capabilities usually makes poor choices with the puck and creates turnovers. Now consider the following positive example of the sensor, decision maker, executor process. The puck carrier makes a visual scan of the playing surface and sees a wide open teammate in the slot; he then decides that passing the puck to his teammate is the best opportunity for a scoring chance. Finally, he makes a pass.

Each component requires a certain amount of processing time, and in a hockey game that processing time is measured in milliseconds. If you and your teammates can decrease the amount of time required to process each component, you will create enough time and space to maneuver the puck into the slot.

The best way to make the sensor, decision-maker, executor process faster is to make each component automatic. When a player is capable of performing each component automatically, he can then perform all three roles virtually simultaneously. Try the following practical approaches to make yourself more skilled at each component when picking up loose pucks.

To decrease the time spent in the sensor role, constantly pay attention to your “look, listen, and feel” senses in order to gauge the direction, speed, and position of these four things: yourself, your teammates, your opponents, and the puck. As the play unfolds, keep a running tab on available open space, because that is where you will be headed the instant you or a teammate gains possession. The less time you spend looking for open space once your team has gained possession, the faster you can execute. But before you can act, you must first decide on the best action to take.

Limit Your Options
The easiest way to speed up the decision-making process is to limit the number of options. The time required to process a decision that involves a single option is so small that the process appears to be automatic. When you or a teammate picks up a loose puck, you have a single option: skate the puck to open space and towards your opponent’s end.

The first thing this does is create time for you and your teammates. If you are the puck carrier, you will need some space in order to maintain possession while looking for a good play option such as a pass or a shot. Under heavy defensive pressure, a successful outcome becomes virtually impossible as you attempt to get possession of the puck, then scan the surface, then decide your next move, and finally, carry out the action. In most instances, the single best decision for the puck carrier is to move the puck to open space along the boards with speed, then look for a play that will move the puck into the middle.

The second reason “get it and go” works is that it gives the supporting players time to get away from the defense. When a teammate gains control of the puck, the best decision a supporting player can make is to quickly break towards the offensive end, while leaving an open passing lane between themselves and the puck carrier. Offsides is not a concern, so at least one forward should scream towards the opponents’ net and set up for a shot. The key is for the whole team to break into attack mode the instant you gain possession. Remember, a defender’s reaction and recovery time is longer on inline skates than on ice skates, so turn the puck up quickly and catch the defense out of position.

Avoid Dumping It
It is almost never a good decision to “dump” the puck into the offensive zone. 90 percent of all roller hockey is played with no offsides rules. Roller hockey is a possession game, so don’t give up the puck. If upon entering the attacking zone, the puck carrier decides that he has no good options for a scoring chance. He can back the puck out of the attacking zone without regard to sending his teammates offsides.

Executing faster than your opponent’s ability to react creates time and space. The defense cannot stop what it cannot catch. You must move as fast as you can while maintaining control of the puck and yourself.

In the defensive end, roller hockey forwards tend to pick up loose pucks along the boards near the points. A good transition technique in this situation is to use your stick or skates to push the puck past the defender to open space, and then skate after it. Once the forward has gotten around his check, he can cut hard into the middle or look for a pass. This move works especially well in roller hockey because of the defender’s reduced capacity to stop and then chase on inline skates, besides, most roller hockey is played without body checking, so there isn’t much concern about getting “drilled” as you sneak in between the defender and the boards.

The next time you are playing roller hockey, and you find yourself in possession of the puck. Don’t just stand there wondering what to do. Instead, “Get it and Go!”

A national examiner for the National In-Line Skating Associa-tion, Jack Brumm recently wrote the organizations level 3 roller hockey certification program.

 

 


This first appeared in the 11/1997 issue of Hockey Player Magazine®
© Copyright 1991-2003, Hockey Player® LLC and Hockey Player Magazine®
Posted: Dec 12, 2001, 13:35
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