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Here are some tips for centers on winning face-offs.
Choke up on the stick. Your bottom hand should be closer to the blade of the stick. This allows you to get power on the draw and react quickly.
If you want to win the puck on the backhand, turn both of your hands over. This helps you pull the stick back quickly and gives you a little advantage.
Communicate a plan to your wingers and defensemen before getting into the face-off circle with a plan. A quick nod of the head will help, but a definitive plan is best.
You don’t have to win the faceoff with your stick on every attempt. You can try and tie the opposing center up and have either of the two wingers come in to retrieve the puck, or you can tie up the centers stick and kick the puck back with your foot to open ice.
Be sure to focus and watch the referees hand with the puck or elbow. If the referee holds the puck high, then watch his elbow as this will be the first to move. If the referee holds the puck lower then watch his hand and the puck. There is no need to stare at the puck, but keep your eye on it with your peripheral vision (split vision). When his hand starts to move you should start moving to try and win the faceoff.
Read and react to the other player and try to predict what he will do. That may help you change your strategy to win more face-offs and gain possession.
We believe that puck control is very important at the CT Oilers. Winning the puck and control of play from off the face-off is critical; as opposed to repossession after a loss. The importance of the face-off area can hardly be overstated. There are countless face-off plans that a center must have up his sleeve.
The center must quickly ensure that his teammates are in the right place. Much can be prepared beforehand, but you can make changes positionally depending on how the opponent lines up. You are like a quarterback in football.
Communication is a must. All players must be ON and act quickly. Whether it's about to go in and retrieve the puck, make themselves playable, or quickly be in a forechecking posture. Face-offs are similar to playing chess. You have to be difficult to read, cunning and quick-witted. In ice hockey, you have to "beat" your opponents.
Face-offs are critical to initial possession.