There are four basic positions in hockey that require unique skills and responsibilities. Players 10 and younger often rotate positions to get a better understanding of the game and what makes them happiest. As players mature, they tend to dedicate more time and attention to one position.
Centers take faceoffs to start play and resume stoppages and split their time between offense and defense. Centers are free to roam the entire ice to support their teammates while other positions tend to stick to one side of the ice.
Right and left wing
Wings or “wingers” are offensive-minded players that tend to stick to the left or right side of the ice in the defensive zone. While their primary duties are to score goals and maintain possession, they also help on defense by covering the top half of their defensive zones.
Defenseman are also split into right and left siders, based largely on their preferred shooting hand. Their primary goal is to prevent shots on net by positioning themselves between the opposing players and their goalie. These players skate backward just as much as forward and use their sticks and bodies to remove opposing players from the puck.
The goalie’s role is simple: keep the puck out of the net. Goalies use heavy padding, a large glove, and a wide stick to ward off oncoming shots. These players rarely venture more than a few feet from their net.