Coach Ben Eaves demonstrates a simple, yet highly effective 3 part progression to practice changing your shot angle. This progression can be done on and off the ice. It is important to practice the pull & release shot for two major reasons:
1) Confuses Goaltenders
Goaltenders today are getting better at playing angles and squaring up with the puck. Pulling the puck can change the shooting angle anywhere from 6 inches to 4+ feet in a second. This quick angle change makes it harder for goaltenders to know where the puck is coming from, which will make it harder to stop (or control a rebound).
2) Getting Shots Around a Defenders Stick
Changing the shooting angle quickly can also help you avoid the other team's sticks, shinpads and skates, which will make it easier to get the puck on net.
Stationary Pull & Release Shooting Progression Setup:
- Setup #1 - Easiest: Use a stick or some sort of object that is angled towards the front of you. This will be a good warmup as the shooting angle is not as drastic as Setup #2 & #3. It will help to warm-up the hands and get you comfortable with using the toe of your hockey stick to pull the puck.
- Setup #2: Use a stick and lay it horizontal as demonstrated in the video. This will be more challenging than the first setup.
- Setup #3 - Hardest: Use a stick and have it angled towards the back of you. This will change the angle of the shot and also help you practice protecting the puck from a poke check.
As you get comfortable with each setup and want to increase the challenge, try the following:
- Increase the distance you are pulling the puck.
- Practice aiming for corners.
- Do this pull & release shooting progression while skating forward.
- View 4 Drills To Practice Changing Your Shot Angle
To help you increase the distance of the angle change, it is important to work on pulling the elbow of your top hand as high as possible. Your elbow of your top hand should pull back so it is right around shoulder height. You will notice that you are able to create a greater angle change than if you keep your top hand elbow low. You can easily see the high top hand elbow in the slow-motion clips in the video above.
Tip for Coaches
When working on shooting drills in practice, rather than simply ending the drill with a shot, place an obstacle like a cone, tire, stick on cone, or coach in a position that allows players a chance to work on changing the angle of their shot while moving. Review how and why it is important to do this and review with them the fundamentals as shown in this video.
Watch Auston Matthews perform this skill to perfection in the 4 video clips below: