A common problem I see with newer hockey players is something I call “not finishing your shot”. In hockey it’s common knowledge that to get more power, you need good weight transfer, but that’s how you start your shot, so how do you finish it?
Finishing your shot requires a “snap” motion at the end. It happens in the wristshot, snapshot, and backhand and will help you get some extra power and accuracy in your shot. A good snap requires the use of your wrists, and proper placement of the stick to allow for a push-pull motion at the end of your shot. In the video below I explain the concept and show some examples
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In this video I talk specifically about using your wrists in your shot to get more power and accuracy. I also share a simple exercise that you can do on a daily basis to improve.
Beyond using the wrists
Using your wrists is important, but getting the stick in the right position to finish your shot is also crucial to adding more power. In this video I show you how you can add extra power to your shot, and improve your quick release.
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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.