Essential skill for defensive players to master. A Poke Check is when a player users their stick to knock the puck away from an opponents stick. This move is normally used by defensemen against forwards. This can be done by keeping both hands on the stick and knocking the puck away from the opponents stick or by using your top hand on the stick while leaving your bottom hand free to increase your stick range.
Two hands on stick
One hand on stick (top hand)
Traditionally when your shown how to Poke check, a lot of coaches use to stay “Poke the puck away from their stick” which would automatically mean most players would look at the puck instead of their opponent. I would always recommend you focus on your opponents upper body so you can see which direction they may go in.
Try to avoid staring at the park (as forwards is coming at you 1 on 1) Watch their upper body to see which way they move. Holding your stick at the top with only 1 hand is a common way to poke checking as it increases a players range (only do this for very short periods of time while trying increase your range for a poke checking as it makes it easier for you to be taken advantages of)
Coming back to my previous point, looking at the puck to try and see where its going to poke check it isn’t always the best thing to do it’s a small target to have to hit. Stick handlers now days are insane at stickhandling and have a lot of crazy moves to get around you. Instead of poking a the puck focus on the players hands, they cant do anything without their hands. Think of it as a triangle from their hands down the stick to their foot.
If I get my stick inside the triangle it makes it hard for them to get control of the puck. Keep your top hand on your stick to poke check and bloke their hands and stick away from the puck while using your other hand stop stand up them.
Dont forget about your hockey stance to give you more control on the ice, you’ll need to have a low centre of gravity to stand the other player up while Poke Checking them. You’ll be leaning on your inside edges on both skates to give you that grip on the ice incase you need to push them.
- Athletic stance
- Wide bade
- Knees bent
- Using Inside edges to generate power
Try to stand them up and have your team mate pick up the floating puck or if possible try and pass the puck back to a team mate. Don’t be afraid of using your other hand at the top of the stick depending on which side the other player holds their stick. Be creative and never miss an opportunity.
Your stick Zone is probably one of the most over looks aspects of Poke Checking. Your stick zone is the reach a player has around their hold body with their stick, a good defensive player will hold their stick close to their hips making it appear as thought their stick zone is much smaller than it actually is. You can see this in the image below (shown in red).
The red zone shown in the image above gives an example of me holding my stick fairly close to my hips to make it appear as thought my stick zone is much smaller than it actually it. The yellow zone is where I can extend my stick to while poke checking my opponent without being off balance. When an attacking player enters my stick zone, I can surprise them by extending my stick from the red zone into the yellow zone and Poke the puck away from their stick.