Hockey is a fast-paced sport that requires quick thinking and even faster movements. One of the essential moves to master in hockey is called a takeaway. A takeaway occurs when a player steals the puck from an opponent without committing a foul.
Being able to execute this move effectively can give you a significant advantage on the ice, whether you’re playing professionally or with friends for fun. However, it’s not always easy to do, as there are specific techniques involved in performing a successful takeaway.
In this article, we’ll break down what a takeaway is in hockey and provide tips on how to master this essential move. We’ll cover various types of takeaways and describe different situations where they can be used. Additionally, we’ll go over key skills and drills you can use to improve your ability to execute takeaways consistently.
“Whether you’re just starting out or looking to sharpen your skills, mastering the takeaway can make a huge difference in your performance on the ice.”
So whether you’re an experienced pro or new to the game, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about takeaways in hockey!
The Definition of a Takeaway in Hockey
Takeaways are an important statistic in hockey. It measures the number of times a player strips the puck from an opposing player and gains possession for their own team. These crucial plays can lead to scoring opportunities and ultimately, winning games.
What is a Takeaway in Hockey?
A takeaway is when a player successfully takes control of the puck from an opposing player without committing a penalty. This is often done by using good positioning, stickwork, and anticipation skills. The player who completes the takeaway then gains possession of the puck for their team and play continues.
In contrast to a giveaway, which occurs when a player loses control of the puck, a takeaway is seen as a positive action that benefits the team. In fact, many coaches and analysts view takeaways as one of the most important statistics in evaluating a player’s overall defensive performance.
Types of Takeaways in Hockey
While there is only one official way to record a takeaway in the game of hockey, players can use a variety of techniques to achieve them. Some common methods include:
- Poke checking: Using your stick to knock the puck away from an opposing player’s stick.
- Lifting sticks or pulling backchecks: Getting under an opponent’s stick to lift it off the ice or using body position to pull back an opponent’s stick.
- Body checks: Physically separating an opponent from the puck with a hit.
- Interceptions: Jumping into passing lanes or anticipating where the puck will be next to steal a pass.
Each technique requires a different skill set, and most players will develop their own unique repertoire of methods over time.
How is a Takeaway Recorded in Hockey?
In official game statistics, a takeaway is recorded as the player’s name who gained possession of the puck after stripping it from the opposing player. However, because no clear definition exists between what qualifies as a takeaway versus a lost control by the opponent, there can be some ambiguity in these numbers. Ultimately, takeaways are used as a tool to evaluate individual player performance and help coaches make strategic decisions about lineups and gameplay.
“Takeaways aren’t just stolen pucks; they’re creating offensive chances off those turnovers.” – Ian Cole, NHL defenseman
Takeaways are an important statistic in hockey that highlights a player’s ability to play solid defense and create opportunities for their team on offense. With the right combination of skills, strategy, and practice, any player can become proficient at completing takeaways and contributing to their team’s success on the ice.
Why Takeaways are Important in Hockey
If you love hockey or a die-hard fan of the sport, you may have probably heard of takeaways. But for newbies to the game, this term may feel foreign. So what is a takeaway in hockey? It is a defensive move where a player seizes control of an opponent’s puck and stops them from carrying it forward. Let us understand why they play such an essential part in the game.
Preventing Scoring Opportunities for the Opponent
The primary purpose of a takeaway is to stop your opponents from scoring or getting on with any offensive moves smoothly. More often than not, if a player reaches the striking zone, he has one thing in mind – trying to score. Getting hold of the puck prevents him from doing so. Additionally, strong team defense always focuses on controlling and containing the opponent while attempting to make things harder for them in the critical areas.
“The key to success in hockey is staying out of the penalty box.” – Wayne Gretzky
By tirelessly working hard to seize opportunities during offense and defending them effectively, players can deny their opponents space and time to shoot at the goal post accurately.
Starting a Transition Play
Another reason why takeaways feature prominently in high-level hockey games is that they create transition plays, which is when teams quickly switch between offense and defense positions. After making a steal, the next step for the defender is to pass the puck to another teammate. At the same time, forwards need to anticipate and be prepared to receive it immediately, move forward onto the attack, and penetrate their opponents’ defense system better. This is called counter-attacking, and it is highly effective as defenses follow specific patterns meaning immediate counterattack will catch them off-guard.
“Everyone is always trying to build and improve, whether it’s your game or building a company. Hockey teaches you that.” – Brandon Saad
Takeaways shift the momentum from defensive play to offensive by changing the possession of the puck. They also create opportunities for teams to score goals as players switch from defense to offense in milliseconds.
Momentum Shift in the Game
Takeaways provide something essential and fundamental than just limiting scoring chances or starting a transition play- they offer an instant mood boost. While hockey is about strategy, speed, and technical proficiency, it is equally dependent on attitude and confidence levels. Teams getting frustrated with their inability to score get stressed resulting in fatigue and errors creeping into their game plan. However, a successful takeaway can raise team morale instantly and deflate opponents’ attacking intensity. Players become more energetic, linemates encourage each other more intensely, and this leads to better game plans overall. A simple action like winning the faceoff or making a perfect pass gets teammates excited and motivated, often leading to striking back almost immediately before the attacking team regroups.
“We get knocked down and then we try again and move up.” – Alexander Ovechkin
The effect may not last long, but enough to push the team forward who thinks positive, thus influencing the tempo and flow of the match while creating its own dynamic and pattern of continuation. Takeaway equals energy when played right; that sudden increased feeling of adrenaline makes everyone on the ice work harder together.
All in all, takeaways are vital in any high-level hockey game and play a significant role in shaping the outcome. So next time you watch a game, observe how the defenders seize control of the puck and try to change the course of the game. It takes skill, technique, and the right attitude to seize opportunities effectively and convert them into a win at the end of the day.
How to Execute a Takeaway in Hockey
Positioning and Stick Placement
The first step in executing a successful takeaway in hockey is proper positioning and stick placement. Your body position should be low, with knees bent and weight evenly distributed on both feet. This will allow you to quickly move in any direction to intercept the puck. Your stick placement is also crucial – it should be close to the opposing player’s stick to limit their movement options.
According to former NHL player and current coach Ryan Lannon, “When doing a takeaway, get your stick in the way of the blade as soon as possible…This takes away time and space from the opponent and can ultimately force them into making a mistake.”
- Keep a low center of gravity
- Distribute weight evenly on both feet
- Position your stick close to the opposing player’s stick
Anticipation and Timing
A key component of a successful takeaway is anticipation and timing. You must anticipate where the opposing player is going to pass or shoot the puck and make your move accordingly. This requires quick reaction time and excellent peripheral vision. Timing is also important; you need to make sure that your stick connects with the puck at just the right moment. If you swing too early or too late, you may miss the opportunity for a steal.
Former NHL defenseman Aaron Ward advises, “You want to be able to take time and space away from your opponent by being a little bit more aggressive…when he has the puck on his stick. Then once you’re there, you have to have patience because if you try to take the puck too fast, you’ll let yourself open to getting burned.”
- Anticipate where the opposing player will pass or shoot
- React quickly and maintain peripheral vision
- Time your stick placement carefully
Executing a takeaway in hockey requires proper positioning and stick placement, anticipation and timing. By mastering these skills, you can gain possession of the puck and potentially score a goal for your team.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Attempting a Takeaway
Overcommitting on the Play
One common mistake when attempting a takeaway in hockey is overcommitting on the play. This means rushing towards the puck carrier too quickly or too aggressively, leaving yourself vulnerable to being faked out or beaten one-on-one. It’s important to maintain your position and stay aware of the entire ice surface while still pressuring the opponent.
A former NHL player and current coach, Ryan Walter, emphasizes this point, saying:
“When you get going on that aggressive posture and make that false move (towards the puck), it’s like taking a kite and snapping its string. You’ve just given control away.”
The key is to be patient and wait for the right moment before making your move.
Incorrect Stick Placement
Another mistake players make when attempting a takeaway is incorrect stick placement. Whether it’s holding the stick incorrectly or not getting it into the right position relative to the puck, mistakes with stick placement can lead to missed opportunities or penalties.
Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque advises:
“If you’re trying to poke-check someone, aim low for his blade – if you miss him there, he takes himself out of the play because he’s going to have to chase the puck and try to gather speed again.”
Paying attention to where your stick is relative to the puck and positioning it properly can help increase your chances of successfully stealing the puck from the opponent.
Not Reading the Play Correctly
A final common mistake made when attempting takeaways in hockey is not reading the play correctly. Failing to anticipate the next movement by an opposing player or not understanding the game situation can lead to missed opportunities or defensive breakdowns.
Former NHL player and current analyst, Eddie Olczyk, emphasizes this point:
“You have to be able to read whether a guy’s going to go off the boards or just chip it softly into the corner and make adjustments from there.”
It’s essential to stay alert and aware of what is happening on the ice at all times to avoid making mistakes based on faulty judgment.
Practice Drills to Perfect Your Takeaway Skills
Stick Checking Drills
Stick checking drills are a great way to work on your takeaway skills. These drills involve one player trying to steal the puck from another using their stick. The key is to use quick, precise movements and keep your body between the other player and the puck.
One effective stick checking drill is the “mirror drill.” This involves two players facing each other, with one player holding the puck. The other player must try to take the puck away while staying in front of the player with the puck at all times. This drill can be done on skates or off-ice.
One-on-One Defensive Drills
One-on-one defensive drills can also help you improve your takeaway skills. In these drills, one player acts as an offensive player while the other plays defense. The goal is for the defender to steal the puck and move it up the ice.
A good example of a one-on-one defensive drill is the “rush drill.” In this drill, the defending player starts behind the net while the offensive player begins at center ice. The offensive player tries to skate past the defender and get a shot on goal, while the defender’s focus is to strip the puck and turn the play back up the ice.
Small Area Games
Small area games (SAGs) are another way to work on your takeaway skills. SAGs are designed to teach specific skills in a fun, competitive environment that simulates game-type situations.
The “neutral zone 1v1” is a popular SAG that focuses on stickhandling, speed, agility, and of course, taking the puck away from your opponent. In this game, two players start in the neutral zone with one puck. The goal is to get past your opponent and score, or take the puck away and go for a counterattack.
Finally, full-ice scrimmages can also help you work on your takeaway skills. During these games, it’s important to focus on positioning and stick placement, as well as being patient and waiting for the right opportunity to make a play.
The “2-on-1 drill” can be used during full-ice scrimmages to practice quick decision-making and taking the puck away from multiple opponents. In this drill, two offensive players try to get past one defender and score a goal. The defender’s goal is to strip the puck and turn the play back up the ice.
“Good hockey players skate to where the puck is. Great hockey players skate to where the puck is going to be.” -Wayne Gretzky
Improving your takeaway skills is all about repetition and practice. Stick checking drills, one-on-one defensive drills, small area games, and full-ice scrimmages are all great ways to work on these skills. By incorporating these drills into your training routine, you can become a more effective player on both offense and defense.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a takeaway in hockey?
A takeaway in hockey is when a player gains control of the puck from an opposing player without committing a foul. It is a defensive play that can prevent the opposing team from scoring or starting an offensive play. Takeaways are an important part of a player’s defensive skillset and can lead to turnovers, which can give their team an advantage in the game.
What is the difference between a takeaway and a steal in hockey?
The difference between a takeaway and a steal in hockey is that a takeaway is a legal play where a player gains control of the puck from an opposing player without committing a foul, while a steal is when a player takes the puck from an opposing player by committing a foul. A steal can result in a penalty, while a takeaway is a defensive play that can lead to turnovers and give a team an advantage in the game.
How is a takeaway recorded in official hockey statistics?
A takeaway in hockey is recorded as a statistic in official game statistics. The player who gains control of the puck from an opposing player without committing a foul is credited with a takeaway. Takeaways are an important defensive statistic that can help evaluate a player’s performance and contribution to their team’s success.
What are some strategies for improving your takeaway skills in hockey?
Some strategies for improving your takeaway skills in hockey include studying your opponents’ tendencies, practicing stickhandling and body positioning, and improving your speed and agility. It is also important to have good situational awareness and to communicate effectively with your teammates. Practicing these skills regularly can help you become a more effective defensive player and improve your team’s chances of success.
How do takeaways contribute to a team’s success in hockey?
Takeaways are an important defensive play in hockey that can lead to turnovers and give a team an advantage in the game. They can prevent the opposing team from starting an offensive play or scoring and can give your team a chance to counterattack. Takeaways are also an important defensive statistic that can help evaluate a player’s performance and contribution to their team’s success.
What are some common mistakes players make when attempting a takeaway in hockey?
Some common mistakes players make when attempting a takeaway in hockey include overcommitting, being too aggressive, and committing a foul. It is important to maintain good body positioning and stickhandling skills when attempting a takeaway and to avoid committing a penalty. Effective communication with your teammates and studying your opponents’ tendencies can also help you avoid these mistakes and become a more effective defensive player.