Hockey 101: Defensive Body Position

Body position is important for defensive players.

There is are a few fundamental concepts, as well as a few different locations on the ice to be aware of.


If you were coached as a youth, you heard this.  It means to maintain your body position on the side of the attacking player closest to the net-  “D-Side”.  This is one of the most important fundamentals of good defensive hockey in any position on the ice (including wingers) in the defensive zone.

“Stick on Stick, Body on Body”

When defending a rush, or engaging a player with the puck in the defensive zone, a common mistake is to lunge or dive at the puck.   Instead, your body should remain centered on the puck carrier’s body, “body on body”.  Your stick is free to try to poke the puck “stick on stick”, but not if it pulls your body out of position.

Here is a brilliant example of both of these by the Kings’ Alec Martinez (#27):

He maintains his “D-side” positioning, while playing “stick on stick, body on body” and shuts down a rush from a top scoring forward (Marchand).

Another great example is demonstrated by Michal Rozsival:

Again, maintaining “D-Side” while playing “body on body”.  The forward (Franzen #93) is shielding the puck to avoid stick contact.  If Byfuglien gives up his body position to reach around to get the puck, Franzen has a clear move to the net.  Byfuglien is in the right place to contain the forward and make it difficult to pass the puck.

Net Front

In front of the net is a special position for defencemen.  This is where it is your job to engage forwards who are trying to create chaos in front.

A few things:

  • Keep your “D-Side”
  • Fight for position and vision of the puck
  • Control the body, but do not get “tied up” until the puck is heading your direction

When the puck is en route, or loose in front, tie up the man.

Don’t let his stick touch the ice.


15 thoughts on “Hockey 101: Defensive Body Position

  1. I really like your article. It’s evident that you have a lot knowledge on this topic. Your points are well made and relatable. Thanks for writing engaging and interesting material.

  2. Hi,

    Really enjoy your content and the explanations and examples are on point. However to nit pick, the picture you showed to explain “body on body” using Franzen and Byfuglien doesn’t actually depict Byfuglien but rather Michal Rozsival. Just an FYI

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