Perfect Gap Control While Forechecking
By Lisa Brown
If you’re smart about gap control when forechecking, you’ll become a fierce checking machine. To steal the ring 1 vs. 1, you’ll want to carefully control the gap – how much space there is between you and the ring carrier – when she is trying to carry the ring past you.
Many ringette players get excited and skate too close to the ring carrier (basically lunging at her, trying to get the ring) whenever they try to check. If you do this, the ring carrier will skate right by you because you are completely focused on the ring and she only needs to make one move. For examples of rushing too close to the ring carrier, watch these clips:
You can see that the checker is not thinking very far ahead. She rushes towards the ring and gets burned!
Too Far Gap
Another common sight in ringette is a checker trying to check her opponent from too far away.
When you are too far away, you skate towards the ring carrier, but you leave too late and never get close enough to her to even check her. Obviously, this will never work!
Just Right Gap
Instead, practice your timing so that you skate in front of the ring carrier close enough so that your stick can touch hers (you can check her) and stay in front of her. To maintain this body position, you will need to work hard and use ‘stop and start’ skating to mimic the ring carrier.
Starts and stops are more effective than ‘swooping’ and making big turns.
This is what makes checking such hard work, and why so few players can make the one-on-one steal: they get too excited and lunge at the ring carrier or they do not realize how much work it is. You need to match the speed of your opponent and try to slow her down using stop and start skating.
Once the ring carrier slows down (or stops), she will expose the ringette ring. At this point, you can either try to make the steal 1 vs. 1 or wait for help from a teammate. Again, this is a hard work, because you must stay in front of her when she is trying to get by you!
Key: Your goal should be to slow your opponent down or make her stop. Slowing down her momentum makes stealing the ring possible. A great clip of good gap control featuring former Edmonton Ringette Association star Laura Warner is here:
Notice how Laura is staying in front of the ring carrier and forcing her to slow down and stop. At this point she can either go for the check or a teammate will arrive and steal the ring.