07. Position Alignment In The 3-3 Formation

Forwards in the 3-3

Area of Responsibility

Here are the areas each forward position plays in the 3-3 formation.

The area the left forward is responsible for is in front of the puck, either directly to the left or directly in front of the puck, within one passing distance. Please note that the left forward has no responsibilities on the right side of the puck. The person playing left forward should try to stay on the left side of the puck and should avoid ending up on the right side of the puck.

The area the center forward is responsible for is in front of the puck within one passing distance. The center forward has a lot of responsibility - and should be making a lot of drops. However, a smart center forward plays off of the left and right forwards so that they don't end up in the same spot as their teammates.

The area the right forward is responsible for is in front of the puck, either directly to the right or directly in front of the puck, within one passing distance. Please note that the right forward has no responsibilities on the left side of the puck. The person playing right forward should try to stay on the right side of the puck and should avoid ending up on the left side of the puck.

Please also note that all of the forwards have no responsibilities to the area between the puck and their goal - the defensive side of the puck. Though forwards have defensive responsibilities, a forward should always try to stay in front of the puck.

Spacing From The Puck

Always stay within one passing distance - which is usually 5 - 10 feet at most, depending on the person who is passing the puck - of the puck. Don't move outside of the 5-10 foot range of a player because you are counting on a big scoring opportunity. Try to keep a short distance between the player who has the puck and yourself, then move further away from the puck if a breakaway occurs.

Think about like this - if you had the puck in the same situation as the person on the bottom, you would want someone to be close enough that you could pass it without having to swim any farther forward. You want to maintain a distance that is a comfortable passing distance for the person with the puck. Don't make someone swim to you when they've been on the bottom for 15 seconds and you've been watching the play from the surface. No one appreciates the player who spends the whole point on the surface only to drop within five feet of goal to score!

Don't expect a back or the other forwards to come to you. Make sure you're close enough so that at any time the person with the puck can pass it forward and it lands just in front of you. That way, you don't have to reach back and slow down, you can continue swimming forward.

Spacing From Your Teammates

You want to keep within a passing distance of the person with the puck, but you also want to keep a passing distance AWAY from your other teammates. When your team has the puck, two teammates playing side to side are not as useful as two players at a passing distance from one another. Two players who are playing shoulder to shoulder are easy to defend. One defender can drop and be in position to cover both players. Good spacing and positioning from the puck and your teammates is key.

As the puck shifts to the side walls, this will mean that the weakside (non-side wall player away from the puck) will end up at two passing distances away. Once you are more than a passing distance away from the puck, you are not responsible to be on the bottom. You do not want to get in the way of your fellow players.

An illustration of bad positioning and good positioning is below.

              An example of bad positioning                            An example of good positioning.

Examine the two diagrams on the left. In the 1st diagram, the left and center forwards are shoulder to shoulder waiting for a pass. Their teammate with the puck, the Left Back, could pass to one of them, but there is a defender behind them. The defender is effectively defending both players. Bad situation for the passer.

In the 2nd diagram, the forwards are at good spacing from each other and the puck. The Left Back sees the defender behind the Left Forward, but no one is covering the center forward. An easy pass, and the center forward is off to the races.


If a teammate has the puck and is encountering resistance from the other team, shorten the distance to the puck. Move farther away from the puck when there is no one between you and the person with the puck - but don't move so far away that you are out of their passing range.

The three diagrams below try to illustrate the concept of good positioning in various scenarios.

Some Examples of Forward Positioning:

When the puck is in your area, you should be on the bottom ready to accept a pass and score a goal. When the puck is not is your area (in the case of the weakside forward where the puck is on the far wall), you should be on the surface getting ready for when the puck returns to your area. While waiting for a puck, you should be almost parallel to slightly ahead of the puck. If you feel you cannot get back to bottom when the puck comes back into your area, sub out.

Playing off your Teammates

Notice that there are at least two forwards on the bottom at all times. Forwards in the 3-3 formation play in pairs – one with the puck, the other getting in position to get the puck. When a forward passes to another, the forward who just had the puck should quickly get air, and if the puck is still in their area, get back down on the bottom. The exception to this is in front of the goal. If the puck is in front of the goal, is the highly important that all three forwards try to be on the bottom.

[Content on Alternating Drops - CF w/ RF & LF - needed here] 

Defensive Responsibilities

When the other team has the puck, it's the forward’s job to backpick (steal) the puck when it is in their zone. The forward should go down when their back stops the opponent with the puck, sandwich the opponent, and make sure they have no where to go. Rip the puck off their stick, and watch for your back to knock the puck out and over to you. 

An example of a back-picking scenario, occurring near the left wall:

Backpick - Left Wall - 1st Scene
A member of the black team has the puck, and is racing towards the white team's goal. One of the white backs begins to engage the player, attempting to slow the black player down.

A white forward, close by the play, is closing in on the play in an attempt to back pick.
Backpick - Left Wall - 2nd Scene
The white back, anticipating the backpick from the white forward, engages the black player with the intention of turning the black player towards the white forward.

The keys for the white forward is that they are low to the bottom of the pool, anticipate the curl of the black player, and are position to defend the puck once they steal it.
Backpick - Left Wall - 3rd Scene
As soon as the black player with the puck begins their turn, the white forward steals the puck. As the puck is being stolen, the white player makes sure to get their body in between the black player and the puck. This prevents the black player from re-stealing the puck. 

 [Content on Weakside Containment Information Needed Here]

Backs in the 3-3

Here are some examples of how the backs should line up in a 3-3 formation


In the 3-3 formation, backs line in up in what is called a "Seven" formation. The reason it's called a Seven formation is that it looks just like a seven when the right back has the puck:

The way to run this formation from the back's point of view:

The strong side back (the back on the side of the puck) will be on the bottom helping keep the puck moving forward. The Center Back (or Swing Back) will be between the strong side back and the center of their goal on the surface. The weak side back will be between the swing back and the center of their goal on the surface. 

It is important in this formation that the strong side back does not allow the opposing team to beat them towards the wall side. All of the back's support is to the inside, and their closest help (the center back and center forward) is towards the center of the pool. If the strong side back loses the puck towards the wall, it is possible that the center back will not be able to close to the player, and then the play breaks down into a one on one with the weak side back and the opposing player. Not good.  

[Insert picture of breakdown when an opposing player gets around strong side back]

If the strong side back loses the puck or comes up for air, the center back should immediately be on the bottom in support. The strong side back should then slide into the position that the center back was at, and when the center back comes up for air, the strong side back would then be on the bottom again in support.

If the puck is keeping in relatively the same spot, the weak side back should be floating on the surface the whole time, watching for the puck to swing to his side, or watching for the time when someone beats both the strong and center back. Good cycling is vital to keeping possession and moving the puck forward.

If the puck should swing from one side to the other, it’s the weak and center back’s responsibility to make sure the puck does not advance. In an ideal world, the weak back immediately goes to the bottom and swims into the play once the puck crosses to his side of the pool, the center goes in behind the weak back for support, and the strong back goes to the surface in the back of the formation. Now, the “weak” back has become the strong back, and the “strong” back has become the weak side back.

All of backs should be in a straight line between the puck, and the center of their own goal.

If the strong side back looked back towards the center of his goal, he should see the swing back and weak side back in a perfect line towards the goal. Or, when the weak side back looks towards the strong side back, the swing back should be in a direct line between the two players.

Why do you do this? If an opposing player gets past the a back on the way to the goal, the other two backs are directly behind the back who was beaten, in line with the goal to defend next.

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