Getting out of our zone is obviously essential for us to be on offense, and at U16, it’s easy to get stuck there unless we have some plans.

There are five essential ways to break out:

  • Quick-up – fastest traditional way of breaking out when we don’t have a lot of pressure.
  • Rim – sometimes, the easiest way to the winger is along the boards.
  • Over – when one side of the ice has lots of players, we find open space by moving the puck behind our net and breaking out on the other side.
  • Wheel – if the defenseman has a little space, but no great passing options, he can skate it behind the net and forward until he has better options.
  • Reverse – if the defenseman tries to wheel the puck but has some direct pressure from an opponent, he can do a reverse, where he does an area pass back to D2 who can than wheel or pass.


The most traditional breakout pattern is when D1 is close to the net and has a clear pass to the strong-side wing. He makes that pass quickly (D1 to RW). The wing should have his stick going up-ice to be ready for options:

  1. He can skate out of the zone if not pressured
  2. He can pass to the Center who should be curling towards him
  3. He can bounce the puck against the boards for the center to pick up an area pass
  4. He could pass across to the opposite wing if he’s sure the pass won’t get picked off

It is really important that the pass to the winger not be a suicide pass; D should try to make the pass as soon as possible.


In case there is pressure along the boards, the defense can send the puck along the wall to the winger. See the difference highlighted below:

D1 can’t get a clear pass too the strong-side winger, so he rims it to him.

A critical part of this play is for the winger to get it off of the boards and ready to move or pass quickly. There are lots of techniques, but ideally, you should not have your back to the point. Make sure you take a look over your shoulder.

And be ready to move it off the boards right away.


If moving it up the strong side doesn’t look good, D1 has the option to send it “over” to the other side with a short area pass behind the net:

D1 – sends the puck to the other side gently enough for D2 to meet the puck behind the goal line (an area pass). As soon as he does, he should move to net-front to relieve D2.

D2 should try extremely hard to make a QUICK pass to the winger on his side.

The former weak-side winger (LW above) should be watching and get over to be in a good support position as quickly as possible. The sooner he’s in position, the sooner defense can pass to him.

Center, reading the over, will now curl to the other side to support the winger.

Former strong-side winger (RW above) should also read the play to move to a secondary support postion.


Sometimes, defense can skate the puck behind the net and forward a little bit. Note that skating the puck is always slower than passing, so this is an option when all of the passing lanes are covered.

All of the other roles should move to the opposite the same way they do for Over. D2 will watch the new weak side of the net.


When D starts to Wheel, but an opponent is covering or angling the puck-carrier, he might opt to do a Reverse where he drops the puck backwards as an area pass for D2 to pick up.

D1 carries the puck as if he’s going to Wheel and then sends a pass back to where he came from. As D2 leaves the net front to get that pass, D1 relieves him at net front

D2 has either called for the Reverse or watched it happen and immediately exploded to fetch the area pass and tries to make a quick pass up to the nearest winger.

Forwards should be watching the play and moving to the opposite side as they do in Wheel and Over, but when they realize it’s a Reverse, they should quickly move to their original positions. The near side winger may need to do a hard stop and start to get to the boards in time.