First, it means kids will be confused and will make up their own meaning leading to a lot of missed checks and putting themselves out of the play and out of position.
Kids will usually see someone coming down on them and immediately lunge at them when they hit the blue line since that is what coach wants, right?
WRONG!!!! Gap Control is what they really mean. Gap control is the art of slowly narrowing the space between you (the defenseman) and the the forward. The key is narrowing the gap until you are close enough to hit him an not miss. The other thing that will help is to always keep to the inside so the forward has to go wide and then you have the boards as your helper.
How do we practice this???
This is easy to practice in a couple of ways:
- practice in 1 on 1 drills, but do not tell the forwards about gap control (this way the forwards will not usually try to vary speeds and make it harder on the d-man)
- practice in 1 on 1 drills with no pucks to focus on the man to man coverage (they always concentrate on taking the man when there is no chance of them making a move)
- practice in 1 on 1 drills with an emphasis that the forward must go to the boards without and worry on whether the defenseman hits him or not. (this emphasizes that they need to go wide and if they miss the forwards have longer to get to the net and less space)
- practice in 1 on 1 drills where the defenseman's only goal is to touch the forwards crest on his jersey. (this emphasizes gap control with keeping in front of the forward.)
- practice in 1 on 1 drills with the various gaps to start with between the d-man and the forward. ( gap control is different in every play in a game, so it only makes sense.)
- practice in 1 on 1 drills where the defenseman must attempt 2 or more poke checks on the forward (this will force the defenseman to keep in front of the forward.)