11. Cycling and Breakaways

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The problem with breakaways is when separation exists between the forwards and the backs when the play accelerates quickly in either direction.
For example, when the forwards get a breakaway and the backs don’t follow quickly enough, a turnover usually results. The other team then pushes the puck through the gap created between the backs and the forwards and they gain back all the pool they have just lost (or should I say we lose the pool that has just been gained).

Photo by Brian Cripe

The other case is when the other team gets a breakaway. The forwards hang back, waiting for the backs to bring the puck back up, and a huge gap develops between the backs and the forwards. Now, when the back regains possession and goes to find a forward to throw the puck to, there is no one on the bottom close enough to get the pass. Or, if the back stops their forward from breaking away, there is no one to back pick the puck, and the forward can wait for their backs to show up and start muscling the puck up the pool.

This divide occurs partly due to fitness but some of it is mental. I know it is difficult for a forward to have a big breakaway, then have to go right back to playing defense. (Especially if the other team has swam several zones away). It can be demotivating but everyone needs to get past this and force him or herself to get back into the action as quickly as possible. If you're completely spent, sub out.

The elimination of gaps between the forwards and backs is crucial in a high level game.

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