A forecheck in hockey is a strategy teams use in the offensive zone in order to pressure the opposing team to give up the puck.
When a team possesses the puck in their own defensive zone it is common for the opposing team to send their forwards to pressure the puck carrier.
This pressure is put on the puck carrier in hopes of generating a turnover. In most cases, forechecks are going to take place after a team has just given up possession of the puck.
When a team gives up possession of the puck it is common for them to pressure their opponents into giving it back. Additionally, when losing possession of the puck it is more common to have more players in the area.
Forechecking with a single player rarely gets the puck back, this makes having extra players in the area beneficial to the forechecking team.
Dump And Chase Method
Forechecking is also the main tool used in the dump and chase method. The dump and chase strategy in hockey refers to an offensive method in which the puck carrier dumps the puck into the opposing team’s defensive zone as he reaches the blue line.
The forwards will then start their forecheck and chase down the defensive player trying to corral the puck.
In most cases, this strategy is going to be used by players that tend to be less skilled. Highly skilled players will instead enter the zone via passing or stickhandling.
Players that rely on forechecking in hockey are generally those that lack the skills to enter the offensive zone while maintaining possession of the puck.
This style of play to enter the zone generally tends to have a lower success rate than skating the puck into the zone. Since the players that tend to use the dump and chase method are not as skilled on the puck, dumping and chasing is often their best bet.
Using this method also allows the forwards to be physical with the opposing teams players. After dumping the puck in players are likely to line up a few a hit or two on the defenseman as they corral the puck in their end.
This doesn’t always lead to a turnover over but can have a physical effect on the opponent’s defensemen.
How Is A Forecheck Different From A Back Check?
Now that you understand what a forecheck is in hockey you may be wondering how this play differs from a back check.
A back check in hockey refers to rushing back to the defensive zone when the opposing team has the puck. The goal of a back check is to help defend your net when the opposing team has the puck in your zone.
The ultimate goal of the backcheck is to take the puck from the opposing team.
A forecheck on the other hand takes place in the opposing team’s end. Forechecks involve forwards rushing the player with the puck in hopes of forcing a turnover in the offensive zone.
The major difference between these two is that a forecheck is an offensive tactic used when looking to score goals. While a backcheck is a defensive tactic used in order to stop the opposing team from scoring goals.