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Chalk Talk

Keep the Puck. Get on the Cycle!

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 04/30/15, 10:30AM EDT

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Cycling is a tactic that supports the concept of puck possession by using quiet zones of the ice

Puck possession. In the world of hockey analytics, it’s certainly the buzzword. Keep the puck, create confusion by forcing defenders to move out of position and open up passing lanes and scoring opportunities. Doesn’t seem to be such a revolutionary concept?

Cycling is a tactic that supports the concept of puck possession by using quiet zones of the ice.

The emphasis of offensive cycling is keeping players in motion. When used properly, the constant motion of the exchanging players does three things:

  1. It creates confusion. Players exchanging positions confuse defenders by continually being in motion. Defenders do not have a chance to set up against a single attacker due to constantly changing assignments, and this can result in an attacker becoming open. 
  2. It creates constant pressure. While the defenders are trying to find a player to cover, the offensive players move in a coordinated pattern, with the center of that pattern generally being the net. The offensive players move like hungry sharks, surrounding their victim (in this case the opposing goaltender), skating and passing the puck until a good scoring opportunity is created.
  3. It buys time. Cycling provides the puck carrier with vacated areas to maneuver into in order to maintain puck possession. By creating and using these vacated areas, the offensive team (specifically the puck carrier) buys time until a scoring opportunity develops.

Low Cycle

In the low cycle, the player with the puck, using good puck protection techniques, spot passes the puck off the boards. The forward in front of the net reads the cycle and jumps down to pick up the spot while the high forward rotates to position in front of the net. Ideally the cycle confuses the defensive coverage and a lane to the net opens up.

Drill | 3 Man Cycle

3 Players in corner work on cycling the puck back down the boards. On signal from Coach, players make pass to net front for shot. Add defenders to create a competitive, game-like situation.


High Cycle or Scissor Play

Here as the puck carrier moves the puck along the boards the defenseman at the point activates, skating between the puck carrier and the boards. As they meet the puck carrying forward leaves the puck for the defenseman then attempts to take the opposing defender with him, creating space for the puck carrying defenseman to move into or pass.

When introducing Cycling in practice, begin with two players and no defenders. Add a third player – either a forward or defenseman – depending if you are working on the Low or High Cycle. Once the attacking team has mastered the play with no defenders, coaches can apply passive pressure and then finally add defenders to create a game-like, competitive drill situation. Timing and reading the play are keys to understanding and implementing this tactic and players will love to keep possession of the puck!

Drill | Down Wall Cycle

2 lines near blue line. Middle line shoots on net, then skates to corner to retrieve puck. Line closest to boards skates down wall, to pick up cycle pass from first forward, who then goes to the net for a return pass.

Download & Print the Drillsheet:

Videos courtesy of Hockey Canada Skills or Gold & Program of Excellence CD

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