Wait… So I’m NOT supposed to shoot like Alex Ovechkin, Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby and many other top scoring NHL forwards? That’s what I was told many times growing up and still hear today. I wanted to publish this article and video to help debunk this myth. The fact is there are many ways to shoot, and each method is effective in the right situation
If you ask me, there is no WRONG way to shoot, only more effective and less effective. If the puck ends up in the back of the net, it’s the right way to shoot. As long as you can get decent power, accuracy and release the shot is worth practicing.
My Philosophy on Shooting
There are the four basic shots, the wrist shot, snapshot, backhand, and slapshot. With each of those shots there are variations on how you can execute each shot. Some are better for power and some are better for a faster release. I believe that hockey players should be familiar with every method of shooting, and when you should use each type of shot.
What is the “wrong” way to shoot?
I made a video to demonstrate the wrong way to shoot. This is something that a lot of hockey coaches still say, so I wanted to address it.
Want to learn new ways to shoot?
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Basic Shot Breakdown
Here is a basic summary of the four main types of shots, and when you might want to use them.
Slapshot – This is the most powerful shot and you typically want to use it from a distance. You need a bit of room to wind up so don’t try this shot when being heavily pressured. A variation is the one-timer which is great from the point, or when you are in close and need to get the puck to the net as fast as possible. Stamkos is known for his deadly powerful and accurate one-timer
Wrist Shot – This shot is great when you need power and accuracy. The full wrist shot is typically used when you are further from the net. This is also a good shot to use when cutting across the ice on your forehand side, as you are already set up to execute the shot and won’t waste any time trying to prepare for the shot. Sakic’s wrist shot is legendary
Snapshot – This shot is great when you need to get the puck off in a hurry. Many players use this when under pressure, when trying to catch the goalie off-guard, or when quickly moving the puck past a defender. This shot is good to use when in close to the net and you don’t want to give any clues that you are going to shoot. There is no denying Kessel has one of the best snapshots in the league, he scores most of his goals this way
Backhand – The backhand is often neglected from players because it is a hard shot to master, but commonly regarded as the hardest shot for a goalie to stop because they can’t read where it’s going. The backhand is used a lot in dekes. This shot is great to use after a quick move or fake, or when you are forced to your backhand and it’s your only shot option. Players who don’t practice their backhand will miss a lot of scoring opportunities. Datysuk is known to deke to his backhand, but also has a deadly backhand from a distance
After coaching hockey for a number of years and working at a hockey camp I have noticed a number of common mistakes that hockey players make that are easy to fix and are robbing them of power. In fact I was making these same mistakes with 20+ years of hockey experience under my belt, and I only came to realizes these mistakes after training with the radar gun. In this article (and video) I will share a few ways that you can easily improve the power in every shot with just a slight change in your technique. I have also embedded a few videos that will give you workouts to do that will help improve your shot power even more.
Technique is everything
A common question I get is “what workouts can I do to improve my power”, my answer is “how good is your technique?”. Perfect your technique first. Once you have a fluid shot and you are getting all the power you can, then work on hitting the gym to get some more weight behind your shot. You should be shooting 100 pucks a day (or at least spend a few hours a week) to work on your technique. The great thing about shooting a lot of pucks is that it will give you a good workout and build all the muscles involved in shooting, so while improving your technique you will also build muscle. It’s like a 2 for 1 deal on shot power! ( I will include some workouts in this article though)
We already have covered technique in on and off-ice videos and articles for every shot. If you need help here’s a link for the slapshot, wristshot, snapshot and backhand. Here are a few questions you should be asking about your technique.
Are your hands in the right spot for each shot?
Would moving your bottom hand higher or lower increase or decrease your power?
Are you transferring enough weight into your shot?
Are you using all of your muscles to get power, or just your arms?
Can your harness all your power while skating?
Are you using your stick flex enough in your shot?
Many people think their shot is fine, but if you don’t have an absolute answer to every question there is a good chance your shot could use some work.
Rule # 1 – Use your Legs
This is the biggest problem I see with most hockey players, especially newer players. They simply aren’t using their legs enough to put more power into their shots.
Your legs are the most powerful muscles in your body, yet many hockey players don’t use them when they shoot. Even the ones that do use their legs can likely get more power by using them more! “How do you use your legs to get power in your shot?”, I’m glad you asked. Whenever you are practicing your shot make sure you are bending your knees. With your knees bent you should really push off with your back leg and transfer all that energy to the front leg. Think of it like jumping into the shot, you want to start your shot with an explosive burst of energy which starts from the legs.
Rule #2 – Free Your Top Hand
This is the 2nd biggest problem I see, and it’s not getting enough snap at the end of the shot. This happens with the wrist shot, slapshot and snapshot. A lot of beginner players develop their shot and are using just their bottom hand. A good fluid shot will be using both hands to pull the stick (and puck) towards the net, and end with a final snap (pulling back with the top hand and pushing forwards with the bottom hand). Get your top hand away from your hip and start using it in your shot!
Workouts to help improve Shot Power
Going to the gym and doing curls won’t help your shot power. In order to benefit from workouts done off the ice, you need to be doing sport-specific movements. If you want to improve your shot, (for the best results) you need to train the muscles used in the shot, in a similar manner they are being used on the ice. Hockey is all about explosive power, especially when shooting! You need to get as much power into that shot as quickly as you can, so slowly picking something up and slowly putting it down isn’t going to help you. I have included a good video I found on medicine ball throws. I like these workouts because they train your muscles in a similar motion as the motion used to shoot. You will be working on rotational power and explosiveness from the legs.