Once you learn to proficiently skate, the next skill is learning how to shoot a hockey puck. These two skills are essential in playing hockey and enjoying the game. Learning to shoot a hockey puck effectively is essential to making goals in hockey. Once you learn the skill of shooting, then practice, practice, practice and you could develop into the goalie's worst nightmare. There are many diverse shots that can be made during the course of a hockey game. We will be focusing on the “snap shot” and the “slap shot.” Here are the basics of shooting a snap shot.
The snap shot in hockey is a quick shot of the puck off the blade with virtually no wind up and, more importantly, no warning.
- Hold the stick properly. Place one hand on the top of the hockey stick and the other hand in the middle of the stick. Try switching hands and positions to discover which position is most comfortable.
- Position the puck properly. The most important part of this shot is the positioning of the puck. Make sure the puck is located close to your front foot.
- Transfer weight quickly. Your weight should transfer from the back foot to the front foot quickly as you perform the snap shot. This generates the power of the snap shot.
- Generate power in the shaft of the stick. As you draw the puck into the shot, apply pressure to the shaft of the hockey stick down to the blade. There should be a slight bend in the blade of the stick, but do not over do it or you can weaken and break the stick. This generates a spring action when you perform the snap shot and is a favorite technique of Alexei Kovalev.
- Keep your head up, knees bent. When performing the snap shot, keep your head up and your knees bent. This helps you aim, and bending at the knees will help you balance as you transfer the weight quickly from back to front.
- Follow through. Always follow through with your stick in the direction of the target.
The slap shot is another popular shot in hockey and is known for its speed and power to the net. A good slap shot incorporates all the aspects of both the wrist shot and snap shot. The main difference between the snap shot and slap shot in shooting a hockey puck is that the stick is drawn back or “wound up.”
- Holding the stick. Similar to the snap shot, hold the stick at the top and middle positions, keeping the top hand loose to allow the power to come from the middle or lower hand position.
- The wind up. Draw back or “wind up” the stick but not too far back. Waist height is adequate, as winding up too far will waste time and not generate additional power. Quickly swing forward and make contact with the ice just a few inches before connecting with the puck. The power should be transferred to the shaft of the stick and slightly bend the stick. This generates a flex action with the blade of the hockey stick and transfers power to the puck much like an arrow and bowstring.
- Transfer weight from back to front. Transfer your weight from the back foot to the front foot while performing the swing. This generates the power in the slap shot.
- Roll your wrists. When making contact with the puck, roll the wrist on your dominant hand so that the thumb on the dominant hand rolls toward the ice. This motion will help with accuracy.
- Follow through with the shot. After the puck leaves the blade of the stick, make sure to follow through with your swing in the direction you were aiming for. This helps with accuracy of the shot.
Learning how to shoot a hockey puck requires skill, but most importantly, practice. Even the pros practice 300 to 400 shots during practice to continually improve their shooting skills. Learn the basics of the shots and practice every day.
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