The slapshot is the most powerful shot in hockey, but also one of the least accurate and usually the most difficult shot to learn. The slapshot has many differences when compared to the other shots in hockey, however some of the fundamentals remain the same. In this article I explain how to take a slapshot in a few easy steps. You can also watch the video for more advice.
How the slapshot works
The reason the slapshot is so powerful is because it requires a lot of explosive power and also stores a lot of energy in the hockey stick. In order to store that energy in the stick you first must be able to flex the stick. The stick flexes when the blade of the stick hits the ice, and pressure is applied to the shaft of the hockey stick (near the center). This causes the stick to bend, when the stick hits the puck the puck is then launched towards the net as the stick releases it’s potential energy and straightens again.
Setting up for the slapshot
In order to prepare for the slapshot the puck should be lined up with the front foot and a few feet away from the body, the exact location varies depending on the player and situation, but a general rule is to aim to strike the puck while it is in line with the front foot.
Your top hand will be in it’s normal location, while your bottom hand should move down to at least the halfway point of the shaft. You can have your hand a bit lower than half, however do not go too low. If your hand is to far down you will not be able to flex the stick properly and it will also compromise your body position.
Step 1 – the wind up
You want to keep your wind up fairly consistent. Remember to keep the blade of the shaft closed throughout the entire windup and downswing (shown in picture). You want to maintain a closed blade so you will be able to properly flex the stick when you strike the ice. When you begin the wind-up make sure the hands are away from your body, and bring both across your body and up, as if you are going to throw a heavy bag of potatoes. You do not want to bring the stick behind your head or back like some do with a golf club, the stick should basically go straight back and up, and then straight down.
During the wind up you should load up your back leg, the back leg should be bent, which will allow you to push off from the back leg and get more power in the shot.
Practice different heights for your wind up, try a low wind up, and a higher wind up. Sometimes in a game you will need a low wind up to get the shot off faster and other times you can take a bigger windup for a bit more power.
Step 2 – the down swing
This is the beginning of the power generation of the shot. This shot should start with a strong drive from your back leg, this will get your weight moving towards the target and add more power. You will simultaneously push with the back leg while driving the stick towards the target, and down towards the puck.
Step 3 – Contact
Try to contact the ice a few inches behind the puck, when this happens you should really drive your bottom hand into the stick to flex it as much as you can.
Step 4 – Lift off
Immediately after ice contact and driving with the bottom arm you will pull back with the top hand, while pushing with the bottom hand. The blade will contact the puck while this is happening and the puck will be propelled towards the net.
The puck should contact the blade in the middle, to far to the heel or toe will negatively affect the shot.
Step 5 – Follow through
Roll your wrists in the follow through for more power and accuracy. Follow through to where you want the puck to go, keep the follow through low and roll the wrists for a low shot, follow through high and keep the blade more open for a high shot.
Slapshot Video Lesson
Embed video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikkFOcBLSsc
Tips for power
A good shot starts with the legs, start with explosive power from the back leg to get proper weight transfer. You can also try getting more power with the rotation of your torso. You may also want to try a lower or higher flex stick. In order to get the most power you should be able to flex the stick quite a bit, if the stick is too stiff and you can not fully flex it you are losing some power.
Tips for Accuracy
The slapshot is the least accurate shot, so please just try to hit the net. If you aim for the top corner, there is a good chance the puck will go over the net, or to the side of the net, which rarely produces additional scoring chances. If you can at least hit the goalie and force him to react there is a good chance one of your players can get a rebound and score, or at least continue to apply pressure. Don’t try to pick corners with the slapshot unless you have done it consistently in practice.
If there are players in front of the net, keep the shot low. A low shot has a better chance of finding the net, the goalie will be screened, and you are less likely to hurt your own players.
Quick Slapshot Tips
- Try to keep your backswing simple, this will help your shot be more consistent
- Power comes from the legs, arms, stick, weight transfer, and the core rotation. Work on isolating all of these areas during practice so you understand how they all work.
- Really drive into the stick with your bottom arm to flex the stick more and get more power from flexing the stick
- Look at the net first so you have a basic idea of where to aim
- Shoot low when your team mates are in front of the net, that way they can tip it in, or get rebounds
- Use the slapshot when you are further from the net and need a hard shot, when you are closer consider a wristshot or snapshot for better aim and a faster release
If you are looking for more shooting tips you can visit the shooting section on the How To Hockey website