P.K. Subban on How to Be an Elite Defender

Professional hockey player P.K. Subban breaks down the fundamentals needed to be an elite hockey defenseman.

P.K. Subban knows a little bit about what it takes to be an elite defender. The all-star hockey player has achieved professional and international success. Now he’s sharing his hockey defense tips to help you elevate your game.


Subban believes that hockey defenders play a crucial role on the ice.

“Everything starts with you. That’s why, in my opinion, defensemen are the most important players on every hockey team,” Subban says.

While defenders have a vital job on the ice, there are two hockey defense fundamentals that Subban feels can take a player’s game to the next level.

“The difference between an elite defender and just a good defender is, in my opinion, decision-making and body positioning,” he says.

Hockey is a fast-paced game, so decision-making must happen quickly. Defensemen often have to rely on their instincts in the heat of the action. This is why the best defensemen are often the best decision makers.

“As a defenseman in hockey, you’re the last line of defense. That means that every decision you make is critical to your team,” Subban says.

Proper body position is hockey defense 101. Maintaining proper space between the puck carrier and the net can be a difference maker in preventing a goal. When it comes to body position, Subban says it is important to be aggressive.

“You want to be aggressive in hockey. Time and space is everything,” he says.


Elite defensemen don’t just make an impact in the defensive zone. To reach a higher level, you have to provide value in every zone on the ice. That’s where transitioning comes into play.

For every skater in hockey, the ability to transition from offense to defense or vice versa can be a game-changing skill. Subban says a strong transition game is critical to success at the pro level.

“Everybody wants a defenseman that can defend and keep the puck out of the net,” Subban says. “But in today’s game, with the speed and the skill of players, it is very important for a defenseman to be able to defend, but quickly transition that puck into offense and join the play.”

By focusing on your decision-making and body positioning, as well as working on your transition game, you can take your hockey defense skills up another level. Looking for more ways to improve your game? Check out Subban’s tips on gap control and how to take a slap shot.