The game of hockey continues to evolve. One way it has evolved in recent years is the way that players are shooting the puck, and scoring goals. A wrist shot or a slapshot with a long windup are not as common (or effective) as they use to be. Those two techniques still have their uses, but the greatest goalscorers on the planet are working on new techniques to put the puck in the back of the net.
Why is it important to work on new shooting techniques? Goalies at all age levels are becoming increasingly strategic in their angles and movements. As a result of this, it is important to work on shooting techniques that surprise the goalie or get them moving so that their positioning is thrown off. You will realize that surprising a goalie or getting them to move and open up is often much more important than shot accuracy.
The shooting techniques we will be discussing are:
- The Snap Shot
- Shooting In Stride
- Shooting Off The Pass
- Changing Your Shot Angle
- Extra Credit (Scroll To Bottom To See)
If you are just learning the game of hockey, we recommend that you practice the basics of shooting first. Watch and practice the wrist shot before moving onto the concepts below.
1. The Snap Shot
Summary: The snap shot is one of the best shots in hockey because of its quick release, and deceptive nature. The goal of this shooting technique is to limit your windup and snap the puck quickly so the defending team and goalie do not have enough time to react or properly setup.
Snap Shot Tips: The quicker you can get the shot off, the better. It is important to have both hands (your top hand and bottom hand) away from your body so you can pull back with your top hand and push with your bottom hand. If you have either of your hands close to your body it is hard to push and pull quickly (you can even try it right now with no stick in hand). Coach Ben Eaves will demonstrate and explain the basic fundamentals of the snap shot below.
Demo: Sidney Crosby has one of the best quick-release snap shots in the game. "I rely more on a quick release than an overpowering shot" - Sidney Crosby. Watch the video below, and pay attention to his quick hands and small windup when shooting.
What else did you see in the Crosby goals?
- He does not have a long windup. Some of the goals have almost no windup at all.
- His hands are away from his body which allows him to pull (with his top hand) and push (with his bottom hand) quickly.
Snap Shot Drill # 1: The first example is quick-release shooting exercise where the focus is getting players comfortable with generating power on the shot by digging their blade into the ice by pushing their bottom hand and pulling their top hand. This drill is great to practice under handling the puck, and shot setup time. Once players are comfortable with this setup they can start to practice a snap shot while skating. Pro Skills Coach Dwayne Blais gives great tips on quick release shooting here.
Additional Snap Shot Details & Drills: View Here
2. Shooting In Stride
Summary: Shooting In Stride is intended to surprise the defense and goaltender. Many players stop moving their feet when they are about to pass or shoot, which is a clear giveaway to the other team that a shot is coming. The goal of this technique is to shoot mid-stride so goalies and defenders do not know it is coming.
Shooting In Stride Tips: As you are skating with the puck, practice shooting the puck mid-stride. In this shot, it is important to keep the puck and hands away from your body, so you can quickly push your bottom hand and pull your top hand back. Dig the stick into the ice before your stick hits the puck for additional power. If you are in a 1 on 1 situation you can also use the defenceman as a screen.
Darryl Belfry, an NHL skills coach for many NHL All-Stars explains tips and benefits of shooting in stride in the video below. This is a must watch if you are learning how to shoot in stride. Make sure to follow Darryl Belfry on twitter for more great information.
Demo: Watch Phil Kessel shoot in stride. What do you notice?
What did you notice in the Phil Kessel highlights?
- He is able to shoot mid-stride at full speed.
- Shoulder drops and weight transfers to generate more force on his stick, which creates a powerful shot.
- There is no windup, which surprises the defense & goaltender.
Shooting In Stride Drill # 1: Here is a simple setup that can be used in half ice or station situations that allows a player to generate speed and work on shooting in stride.
Additional Shooting In Stride Details & Drills: View Here
3. Shoot Off The Pass
Summary: Shooting Off The Pass is a highly effective goal scoring technique because it does not allow the defense or goaltender the time to properly setup and prepare for the shot.
Shoot Off The Pass Tips: Work on shooting immediately after you get a pass. The longer you wait to shoot after you receive the puck, the better the chance that the defense or goalie has to set up. If you do not have the puck, it is critical to work on jumping to open space so you can be an outlet to receive a pass. If you stay stationary, you are easy to defend. There are a variety of techniques that you can use to shoot off of a pass. Below are three ways:
Shoot Off The Pass Drill # 1: This around the world drill allows players to work on jumping to space, passing and getting a quick shot off from the 4 corners of the offensive zone.
Shoot Off The Pass Drill # 2: The drill below is from a Detroit Red Wings practice and it shows a player spinning to escape from a defender, jumping to space, while they get a pass from the corner. It is important when you do not have the puck to be able to be aware and jump to open space to get open so you can receive a pass. Sometimes jumping to space means you need to escape coverage. Small area games can also help players learn how to jump to open space.
Additional Drills to Practice Shooting Off The Pass:
- Wall Retrieval Station
- Colorado Avalanche Wall Retrieval & Pass
- Corners Shoot Off The Pass
- Point Shoot Off The Pass
- Continuous Shooting Hockey Drill
- Shoot Off The Pass With The 1-3-1 Power Play
4. Change Shot Angle
Summary: This is a shooting technique that has been popularized by Auston Matthews. The goal is to pull the puck into your body or push the puck away from your body as you are shooting, which can deceive the goaltender and change the angle of a shot by a foot or more. Even if you do not score on this shot, it is harder for a goaltender to track, so there is a greater likelihood of a rebound with this technique.
Change Shot Angle Tips: This is a more complex skill so it is important to practice the skill stationary first. Once you are able to get the concept down you can add movement into your practice. It is important to lift the elbow of your top hand so the stick can slide closer to his body. Your lower hand should push your blade into the ice to generate force on his stick, giving the shot more power.
Demo: Watch 4 examples of Auston Matthews performing this skill to perfection. What do you notice?
What did you see in the video above?
- Auston pulls the puck towards his body, sometimes changing the shooting angle over 1 foot!
- He lifts the elbow of his top hand so his stick can slide closer to his body.
- His lower hand pushes into the ice to generate force on his stick, giving the shot more power.
Change Shot Angle Drill # 1: Below is an example of how this skill can be practiced at a stationary position at first. This can be performed on or off the ice.
Change Shot Angle Drill # 2: Once you are able to dial in the skill from a stationary position, you can start to add in skating to the skill. As you improve, increase your skating speed and the distance you are changing your shot angle.
5. Extra Credit: React To Rebounds
Summary: When all else fails? Don't overthink. Just shoot the puck or get the puck to the net because you never know what can happen, plus you can create a rebound for yourself or a teammate! Wayne Gretzky, the greatest goal scorer in the NHL once said, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take."
Reacting to Rebounds is not necessarily a shooting "technique" (which is why it is Extra Credit) but it is an extremely important concept to keep in mind to help you score more. There are many Hall of Fame NHL players that made their career by simply anticipating and quickly reacting to rebounds.
Rebound Tips: It is important to focus on reaction and quickness. The longer you hold on to the puck or stickhandle, the greater chance the goalie can set up or a defenseman can poke the puck off of your stick.
Demo: Watch an NHL montage of rebound goals. Pay attention to how quick their reaction is to quickly get the puck to the net after a rebound.
What else do you notice in the rebound video above?
- Most goals are a result of players battling in front of the net!
- Players do not stickhandle to get the perfect set up and perfect shot, they quickly react and shoot the puck immediately!
Rebound Drill # 1: The first drill is brought to you by Jets Hockey Development and it is a reactionary rebound exercise that can be done without a goalie.
Rebound Drill # 2: This drill comes from the Colorado Avalanche Training Camp. The main goal of this drill is to put the players in an uncomfortable position by spinning them around, forcing them to collect the puck and fire it on net as soon as possible. Most times in a game, players will not get a perfect pass, so it is important to be able to react to the play. These types of drills are helpful to get player thinking to shoot immediately after there is a rebound, deflected pass or broken play.
Extra Credit Scoring Tip: Always remember that the net never moves. The best players in the game keep in mind where the net is at all times when they are in the offensive zone. This allows them to be able to fire the puck and hit the net without taking the time to look at the net.
Additional Drills to Practice Rebound Reactions:
Next time you watch an NHL game (or any game) pay attention to how the goals are scored. Chances are, they incorporate the techniques we discussed above.
Goalies are getting better at every age level so it is important for players to work on techniques that surprise or get a goalie moving. It will take time to get good at the shooting techniques listed above, but with practice, you will improve. When learning a new skill we would suggest to start stationary so you can slowly to dial in the technique. Once you have a good handle on the skill, add in slow skating movement and then work on performing the skill at full speed.
Get creative with your shot! Think about how you can surprise the goalie and get the goalie moving. Every time you are shooting on or off the ice you should be shooting with an intention and not just going through the motions. Going through the motions with a long slow windup can lead to bad habits. Next time you step on the ice, think about:
- The Snap Shot
- Shooting In Stride
- Shooting Off The Pass
- Changing Your Shot Angle
- Extra Credit: Reacting To Rebounds
- Bonus Assignment: How can you further deceive a goalie or get a goalie moving? Get creative! Eleven Hockey describes how you can deceive a goalie by changing your blade & stick position during a shot. What else can you do to throw the goalie off? Brainstorm and think of your own ideas.
All of these concepts can be practiced on or off of the ice, with some fun music in the background. Take these ideas with you to help take your shooting and scoring to the next level! You can practice any of the shooting techniques above with our 165+ additional shooting drills!