The word “TRACK” is reallllllly buzzy right now. At the end of the day, it’s the same thing as what we learned…BACKCHECK.
But now, tracking is taking more of a nuanced role in the game and is being talked about more strategically…rather than when I was growing up where backchecking was just something you did to be a good teammate and prevent goals. I never really learned how to backcheck…just that it was important.
In this post, I want to talk about the “How” and the “Why” tracking/backchecking is important.
There are a couple of different concepts that coaches now are teaching. None are right or wrong, just opinions….
- Backcheck as fast as you can to “the house”…and then sort it out.
- Have your head on a swivel as a forward and take players man-on-man coming back into the zone. D can see the play much better and communication on this one is a MUST.
- The forward takes the puck carrier backchecking wide and the D play between the dots.
- The D take the puck carrier with good gaps and the forwards backcheck anything coming through the middle.
- It’s important to track to give less time and space for the puck carriers and take away options. Pressure at its best. Especially through the middle of the ice.
- It creates buy-in. If players are committed to the Defensive side of the puck…that’s a special attribute for team play and culture.
- It eliminates odd-man rushes where a majority of line-rush goals are scored.
- It’s great for player development…coaches always want players that care about the other side of the puck!
I love these clips from a Boston/Montreal game when it comes to tracking. The biggest thing I love is the fact that Boston’s track starts in the offensive zone. When we were all taught about backchecking, it was always into the defensive zone. But Boston puts the pressure on Montreal even on their breakout…causes turnovers…and goes back the other way to score two goals.
Tracking/Backchecking is a great habit to have in hockey…and hopefully this post can give you a little more of the “How” and “Why” it is.