How Many Positions In Hockey? [Updated!]

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Hockey is a fast-paced game that features players moving around the ice in a variety of positions. It’s a game that has been around for generations and has been played internationally. In the U.S., leagues such as the NHL have established themselves as the premier hockey leagues. There are different rules for each position, but generally speaking, the more skilled a player is, the more positions he can play. Here’s a look at how many positions there are in hockey and how to identify them.


Goaltending or goalkeeper(s) are the individuals who stand between the ice and the puck and try to prevent their opponents from scoring goals. There are generally two goalie positions in hockey: the goalie and the ‘sitter.’ The goalie stands in the crease in front of the net and plays a key role in defending the lead, preventing opponents from gaining momentum, and keeping the puck out of the net. The ‘sitter’ stands alongside the goalie and either drops down to block shots or takes a peak at the play from the point-blaze angle, which is mostly used in international play.

The position of the goalie has been established since the early 1900s, but it was not until the 1932-33 season that the idea of defense-first goaltending was fully implemented. Before that, goalies would come out and challenge for the puck whenever it was in the open. Nowadays, the goalie’s main responsibility is to prevent goals, not gain possession of the puck. While there have been games where teams have intentionally let in a lot of goals just to have a goalie challenge for the puck, most teams play a disciplined game and let their goalies do their job.


The defense, which is often referred to as the blueline in hockey, are the individuals who protect the team’s net from behind. They are tasked with blocking shots and clearing the crease in front of the net. They also have the ability to move the puck out of the net quickly with a breakout pass or rush the puck up the ice when the defense is moving forward.

The defenseman’s main job is to prevent the puck from entering the net, whether it be by stopping shots or blocking passes. They do this by either playing the puck or by going ‘on the attack,’ catching the puck, and beating the opposing players to a loose puck. They also have to be aware of their surroundings, as they can move laterally but not vertically, which gives them a significant advantage over bigger players, who can cover more space.


Forwards, sometimes referred to as skaters in hockey, are the individuals who move the puck around the ice and into scoring positions. Teams generally use three to four forwards who are responsible for establishing and maintaining a good offense. They are usually larger than the defense, though, so they can more easily move the puck around the ice and cover a lot of space.

Forwards have a variety of different jobs depending on the situation. They are either responsible for creating scoring chances by shooting, receiving scoring chances by passing to a teammate, or helping the goalie out by blocking shots and taking a hit to make a play.

The primary responsibility of the forward is to move the puck up the ice or create scoring chances. However, all forwards do not do this in the same way. Some can be best described as pure scorers, while others are responsible for moving the puck to set up their teammates. While there are certainly some similarities between all forwards, they do differ in what they are expected to do and how they fit into their team’s offensive scheme.


The center, sometimes referred to as the pivot in hockey, is the individual who orchestrates the game’s majority of the offensive movements. They are generally the tallest and heaviest individuals on the ice, which gives them tremendous physical strength. They also have a significant amount of skill in controlling the puck and moving it around the ice with ease.

The center’s responsibility is to control the puck and keep it moving in the right direction, whether it is through passing or skating with the puck. They can join the rush or drop back to break up the defense’s momentum and reset the puck back at the point, setting the stage for another attack. They can also take a hit to make a play or join the attack themselves if the opportunity presents itself.

The position of the center has been around since the early 1900s but did not really take shape until the 1924-25 season when Harry Neale, the coach of the Montreal Canadiens, began using a center in an attacking role. Before that, centers were generally used for defensive purposes only and were not needed in an attack mode, as there were usually four or five forward positions on the ice, leaving the center empty.

Left Wing

The left wing, sometimes referred to as the flier in hockey, is the individual who initiates some of the game’s faster breaks and attacks. They are generally skillful players who can be extremely effective at getting the puck to the net. A great left wing is able to find open ice and create scoring chances for himself as well as his teammates.

The left wing’s main job is to score goals by either taking a hit to shoot or carrying the puck into the opponent’s zone and scoring on a wrap-around. When trying to score on a wrap-around, the left wing has to be extremely skilled at passing and using their stick to beat the opposing defensemen to a loose puck.

Right Wing

The right wing, sometimes referred to as the distributor in hockey, is the individual who moves the puck around the ice and distributes it to the team’s other players. Like the left wing, the right wing is generally a skilled player who can create offense for themselves and their teammates.

The right wing’s main responsibility is to move the puck around the ice to set up their teammates for scoring chances. However, they must also be aware of their surroundings and make smart, well-timed passes, or they too could find themselves on the wrong end of a goal.

The position of the right wing has been established since the early 1900s but did not really take shape until the 1924-25 season, when the Boston Bruins used the position as a way to start the season-long centermanless mode. Before that, teams always began their games with two skaters and a goalie, leaving the right wing vacant.


There are several different positions in hockey, and knowing the positions can help you understand the game a little better. There are six positions listed here, but this is certainly not an all-inclusive list. Knowing where to look can help you identify other positions, be they in a lineup or on the bench.

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