It all happens in a flash. You’re skating in the slot at the end of a shift, a little tired, and suddenly the puck ends up on your stick. What do you do?
Wayne Gretzky’s famous maxim, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” is as true as ever. Players need to be ready to shoot when the puck hits their tape. Here are a few tips to help you work on your shot in practice.
Simulate Real Ice Conditions
Every hockey player would love to have a rink in their home to train in life-like conditions, but that gets costly! Instead, there are shooting pads that feel like shooting a puck on ice.
Not only will gravel eat your stick blade away, but the puck can’t glide on gritty surfaces, and neither can your stick. Industry leaders like HockeyShot Canada make shooting pads that give shooters a slick ice-like surface and withstand years of wear and tear.
You don’t want to develop habits that work in one set of conditions, but not in the ones you’ll be used come game time. Shooting pads let you take wrist shots and slap shots as if you were on the ice, and you can use them 12-months a year, indoors or out.
Get some obstacles to stickhandle between shots because you won’t get a lot of time to set up a shot with defensive players hounding you. Simulate the ice with a shooting pad or skating tile, and get deking obstacles, so you feel pressure while practicing your shooting.
Keep Your Head Up
When you’re on the ice in a game situation, you need to keep your head up so you see what’s around you. It’s important to practice shooting without looking at the puck, even if there are no defensive players around.
If you need to watch the puck on your stick constantly, how will you be able to spot the trailer on the odd-man rush? Goalies can read what you’re going to do by where you’re looking, so skilled players look one place and shoot somewhere else.
Practice shooting with your head up, rather than looking at the puck, to develop such skills. How can you know what parts of the net the goalie’s covering if you’re always looking down at the puck?
Practice Different Types of Shots
You don’t want to be a one-trick pony. Once a goalie has a read on you, you won’t be able to beat them.
Keep goalies guessing by having more than one shot in your toolbox. Sometimes a quick, well-placed snapshot is more effective than a big wind-up slap shot or a wrist shot.
Work on getting your wrist shot off quickly, accurately, and make sure it’s fast. Don’t just practice one type of shot, or you’ll have limited options and be predictable to defenders and goalies.There’s an enormous difference between being able to clack one off the post in practice and doing it when it counts. Make your off-ice practice resemble game conditions, and you’ll be lighting the lamp all season long.