How to play hockey, and have fun doing it

Learning how to play hockey well is a great way to learn how to succeed at life. Some of the lessons hockey teaches kids and even adults include:

  • Teamwork
  • Confidence
  • Being gracious in defeat and humble in victory
  • Discipline
  • Trust
  • Goal setting (and achievement)

If you are a parent, or a coach helping children or young adults learn how to play the game, it’s important to keep these important lessons in mind. Building skills like skating, passing, shooting and stickhandling is a great way to reach all these goals.

Here are seven fundamental areas of the game of hockey which will make for great players, and awesome people.

1. The Ice Surface

Just like how Daniel had to learn to paint a fence and wax a car before he became the Karate Kid, a hockey player needs to know the ice surface before they can become a competent player. Most rinks in North America follow NHL specifications of 200 feet × 85 feet and a corner radius of 28 feet. It’s got Zamboni doors on one end, penalty boxes on one side, and team benches on the opposing side. The boards are about 40-48 inches high, and topped on most of the perimeter (except for in front of the player benches) by panes of glass.

aireal view of outdoor rink

There are several lines separating the zones on the ice surface:

  • The center red line, which splits the rink in half
  • Blue lines which mark each team’s end, and the neutral zone between the red and blue lines. The blue lines are 25 feet from the centerline, making the neutral zone 50 feet deep.
  • The face-off circles, one at centre ice for faceoffs (more on that soon) at the beginning of each game, period and after goals. There are four other face off circles, two in each end to the left, right and in front of the goal nets
  • Four face-off dots in the neutral zone for when players are offside (you’ll read about that too) and/or play is stopped in the neutral zone for a penalty

You’ll often see colorful team logos or corporate advertising on the ice. When a player scores three goals, you will often see hats float to the ice from adoring fans.

2. Zones and Creases

You’ve already read about the neutral zone. The defensive zone is the area within the blue line back to the goal and beyond to the end boards, at each end of the rink. Goal nets are 4 feet tall x 6 feet wide (between the goal posts). The crease, (meaning the painted ice area immediately in front of the goal net) is 6 feet in diameter. Players are typically not supposed to enter the crease unless they are forced in by another player. The crease is meant to be a safe place (from players not slapshots) for goalies to play. The area immediately behind the net is called the trapezoid.

The goal lines (which cross the crease and when a puck crosses them, a goal is official) are 64 feet from the blue lines, and 11 feet from the end boards.

3. Player Roles

There are five active players on the ice at any given time, and each team can have as many as twenty players. The NHL allows as many as 23 players on each roster, and 16 players on the bench and ice combined. There are six players on the ice per team at any given time.

  • Three forward offensive players, including a Center (who handles faceoffs) and Left Wing and Right Wing players. Offensive forwards play defensively when required. Their responsibility is to get the puck up the ice, deep into the opposing team’s zone.
  • Two defensive players, who assist forwards in keeping the puck out of their end during the game, and work to keep the puck in their opponent’s end during the game. If they have a clear shot at the goal, they can take a shot and try to score, though they often move the puck to a forward, who are usually closer to the goal, and more likely to put the puck behind the person in the next bullet.
  • The goaltender, otherwise knowns as the goalie, netminder and other fond nicknames. They keep the puck out of the net, using their blocker glove, catching glove, stick, goalie leg pads, mask, chest or any part of the body (hopefully) protected by padding or hard plastic. Common target areas which forwards often snipe for are between a goalie’s legs (known as the 5-hole), as well as at the four corners of the goal net.

player-roles

Most of these players (except for the goalie) rotate on and off the ice with other sets of players who play similar roles. Each time period on the ice is called a “shift”, which varies in time between about forty seconds and two minutes. Coaches usually delegate when players are on and off the ice.

4. Rules and Penalties

One of the ways hockey generates character is by having a set of rules, and penalizing players who break those rules. The rules forbid actions like the following infractions which generally result in a player sitting in the penalty box for two – four minutes, depending on the severity.

  • Tripping a player with your hockey stick by hooking a skate leg with the blade of the stick
  • Hooking, which is slowing a player by placing the blade of your stick against an opposing player’s torso or arm.
  • High sticking is raising your stick above an opponent’s shoulders and striking their head, neck or shoulder area. If the player gets cut and draws blood the penalty doubles to four minutes. True story.
  • Cross checking is when a player holds their stick at the bottom of the shaft and at the knob end, and they push an opposing player to move them off the puck or just to be mean.
  • Delay of game, such as purposely flipping the puck over the glass, and into the bleachers during game time. Doing so before a game, to a child or attractive fan doesn’t incur a penalty. That only incurs smiles.
  • Fighting with opposing players can carry a penalty anywhere from five minutes to a full game misconduct or more, based on referee and/or a league executive’s discretion.
  • Boarding is when a player checks another player from behind into the boards, which can be dangerous and end in concussion or further injury.

Other penalties occur, such as knee on knee contact, too many players on the ice and unsportsmanlike conduct, which don’t happen as often. Some of these penalties incur more severe penalties or suspensions, depending on the level of play, and age of players in the amateur or professional tier of the game.

Penalty shots sometimes are delegated to a player who is unfairly removed from their attempt to score. Penalty shots offer a player a chance to challenge the goalie, one-on-one without interference from other forwards or defensive players. Penalties result in one of the five players outside the net to be removed from play, which often causes an unbalanced ratio of players, known as a power play (five players vs four). Teams that score goals when they have a player in the penalty box get a “shorthanded goal” which is much more impressive. Power play goals happen when the team with more players takes advantage of that situation and buries the puck in the net while the penalized player feels like a complete dummy.

5. Shooting, Stickhandling, Passing and Blocking the Puck

Moving the puck up and down the ice, and keeping it out of the ice takes some skillful stick work, weight transfer and hand-eye co-ordination. Shooting the puck occurs in either a slapshot, wristshot or snapshot. There are many techniques involved in shooting the puck, including building up potential energy in the stick and creating optimum shot velocity. We have many tips from experts and training equipment to help players make great shots at all experience levels. Scoring a goal, as indicated above, is getting the puck into the net behind the goalie.

shooting on synthetic ice

Stickhandling helps players to move the stick off the ice, while protecting it from opposing players, and creating confusion in a goaltender’s mind as to from which direction the puck will come from, and when the shot will take place. We’ve got many tips and tools for players to build their stickhandling. Passing the puck is how players move the puck to each other, vying to get the best possible angle and proximity to the net to score a goal. We’ve gathered stickhandling and passing tips and gear together to make things convenient.

Goalies need a whole set of specialized skills, practice gear and personality. We’ve gathered training tips and gear together under our Goalie section.

6. Mind, Body and Discipline

Hockey players need a healthy body to play their best game, and they need a sharp hockey mind. You can find some excellent advice and training aids to improve both by clicking on these links. Hockey players need strong muscles to skate quickly and explosively. They need aerobic stamina to perform well on the ice over a longer period. All these senses are important to hockey

  • Sight, to see the puck, other players and the net
  • Listening, for the whistle, teammates, referees and coaches.
  • Smell, to know when a sweaty defenseman is pursuing you on a breakaway
  • Touch, for the grip on the stick and the high fives when you score a goal
  • Taste, for the hot chocolate, hot dog or other celebratory food or beverage after a great game

7. Coaches and Referees

Taking direction and feedback from coaches, referees, senior players and parents is great practice for working with superiors and elders throughout life. Sometimes you just have to take a knee, swallow your pride and do what the coach tells you to win a game. Good practice for your future career.

hockey-referee

Hockeyshot’s goal is to help players at all levels to improve their skills, get more enjoyment from the game, and enhance their mental and physical fitness. Hockey is often called the “fastest game on Earth”. Improving your skills and reflexes for the game takes lots of practice, study and learning from your mistakes. We’ve got some great experts who know how to make improving your skills fun, and awesome gear to practice with.

Think we’ve missed something in our “How to Play Hockey” overview? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or Instagram. We’ve probably got the advice on one of our other channels, or our editor will add it here soon.

Off-Ice Hockey Training Gear for Goalies – Useful During Summer & Year-Round

When you watch an elite hockey goalie like Braden Holtby from the Washington Capitals, Frederik Andersen of the Toronto Maple Leafs, or Carey Price from the Montreal Canadiens, you know those guys hone their skills all year long. Goaltender summer training – or any off-ice conditioning program – requires specialized equipment which can be used at home, or on the go.

If you are a goalkeeper during the season, there are three good reasons you want quality off-ice hockey training gear:

  1. You want to impress your friends, so they will train with you more often.
  2. It’s best to train with equipment which will keep you safe, and simulate an ice rink experience, while sharpening your skills in the off-season.
  3. You want your gear to last as long as possible, and stand up to wrist shots, slap shots and wicked backhanders.

Thinking of gearing up like Casey Jones from the Ninja Turtles and challenging local kids to a game of road hockey to enhance your skills? Think again! Strap on some real pads, and enhance your workouts with some of these awesome off-ice goalie training tools:

G1 Extreme Slide Board – Goaltender Model

At the beginning of most hockey games, goalies like to get comfortable in their crease by pushing back and forth between the posts in front of their net. Not only does it look cool, but it’s an effective way for goaltenders to enhance their technique at gliding across the crease to stop the puck. The G1 Extreme Slideboard – Goaltender Model, with its slippery surface, sliding booties, push off stoppers, rotating blocks and leg pad sleeves are a great way for goalies to train their side shuffles, butterfly poses and other puck control maneuvers.


goalie_slide_board

Goalies know that on a surface like concrete or asphalt, they are impeded by friction and fear of road rash. The Slideboard is a close simulation to rink ice, and is great to practice stacking the pads, cutting off a rushing forward or closing that five hole. Remember that the Slideboard is quite slippery, so use caution and protect your head in case of a fall. A few sessions on this equipment is sure to make you a better hockey player.

SKLZ Reaction Ball

Most off-season hockey training is pretty predictable. Your buddy takes a shot, and based on his or her foot alignment, body positioning and your knowledge of their habits, you can often telegraph where many shots will go. The SKLZ Reaction Ball makes off-ice goalie practice less predictable, and is sure to keep you on your toes.


sklz-reaction-ball

Looking like a cross between a molecular model and a stress ball, the SKLZ ball can be used like a game of handball against a wall, like a bouncing game of catch off the ground by taking advantage of the six “sides” of this bumpy ball. It’s no standard sphere, and the SKLZ ball is sure to improve your hand-eye coordination, reaction time and generate lots of laughs in the process.

RollerFly – Goalie Slide Plates

Are you a goalie that likes to rock n’ roll all night, and play hockey every day? RollerFly – Goalie Slide Plates look a little like legwear out of a 70’s KISS costume, but they, like the Extreme Slideboard, ease friction for off-ice practice. You can butterfly to stop a ball or puck, and the sturdy ball bearings on the Side Plates roll so you don’t wear your pads down to foamy leg lumps. You just strap the plates on the sides your pads, ensure you don’t have any puck-munching gaps and stand between the pipes.

RollerFly – Goalie Slide Plates are great for roller hockey or other off-ice training exercises.

Blocker Sleeve Kit

When you were a kid, did you play catch with a tennis ball and a Velcro baseball mitt? The Blocker Sleeve Kit is a similar idea, but with a goalie blocker and options for a “hook and loop” trapping surface and a traditional non-stick surface for faster action. Like the Reaction Ball, you can play with a friend, or solo against a wall. Great for improving hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, reflexes, skill and speed. Become a better hockey player one save at a time.

blocker-sleeve-kit

When you purchase the Blocker Sleeve Kit, make sure to pick up a set of balls for the best experience. You’ll have so much fun, you’ll want to allow your originals to drop to the ground and take more shots.

Slide Board Pro

As a goalie, you may not skate far beyond your crease too often, unless you dare to challenge a pesky forward, or need to revel in the accolades of the post-game “3-Star” selection. Yet skating ability, and the muscles the Slide Board Pro builds are great for building up the strength and skill necessary to excel as a goaltender. Great for practicing that important post-to-post shuffle-slide, or cutting off angles during a penalty shot.

Where the G1 Extreme Slide Board – Goaltender Model tends to be ideal for home, on a tennis court or in the garage, the Slide Board Pro can be used just about anywhere, like in a hotel room on vacation, during a slow church service or while waiting for an opening in the men’s room at a concert.

Off-Ice Hockey Training for Goalies is a great way to keep fit, stay sharp and ware off that off-season bloat from barbecues and beach beers. Many of the components from the goalie training tools mentioned above can be purchased separately. Use them safely, but you’re sure to have fun while you build up speed, skill and strength for next season.

If you need help finding the perfect goalie workout gear, you can use the chat function on our website, or contact us through the information on our web page found here.

The Grateful Hockey Player

The Grateful Hockey Player

What are you grateful for?

That might seem like a strange question to ask a high performing athlete, but the emotion of gratitude can help take your performance to the next level. We have seen performance shifts with some of the world’s leading athletes by adopting a grateful attitude.

Let me explain …

Research has linked the emotion of gratitude to better overall physical and mental health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression. Athletes are more satisfied with their teams, less likely to burn out and enjoy better well-being overall.

In my work with athletes, and in previous articles I have written, I highlight the importance of “enjoyment over achievement”. Making sure that enjoyment is at the forefront of performance in hockey with achievement following. The player who pursues achievement in hockey so diligently that they forget about one of the key purposes of the game, enjoyment and fun, can often end frustrated and miserable. The athlete who pursues enjoyment first, with a deep commitment to excellence and improvement is the athlete who lasts and achieves.

So why can focusing on gratitude be so beneficial to you as a hockey player?

Well consider that it is impossible to have two emotions at once. And, the same goes for thoughts for that matter – we can only handle one thought at a time. As an athlete, this is important for you to know. When you do feel negative emotions that limit your performance, you have the option of changing your state to a positive emotion – and gratitude is a great one to make the shift.

A few characteristics of grateful hockey players …

Grateful hockey players appreciate what they have

While some players complain, make excuses and don’t appreciate the fantastic opportunity of sport, grateful players are excited to have the opportunity to play a sport they love and all of the benefits that go with that sport (fitness, relationships, life lessons, joy of winning, the learning from losing and the opportunity to challenge and test your abilities).

hand shake

Grateful hockey players are grateful for competitors

Appreciate your competitors! Competitors can bring out the best in you and without them you do not have the opportunity to play and test your limits. Competitors give you an opportunity to bring out your best. In his autobiography, former Olympic track star Carl Lewis reports that he chose to embrace his competitors as essential in the quest for performance excellence rather than as enemies meant to be beaten down. Lewis won 10 Olympic medals, nine of them gold. You may look at your competitors as threats, but they are important to your development and you need them!

Grateful hockey players appreciate the journey and struggle

They know that there will be difficulties and hockey performance often goes in cycles – ups and downs. Grateful players learn from these struggles to always move forward. There is an appreciation in the value of their struggles and an ability to look at the big picture and know there are brighter days ahead.

Grateful hockey players “sweep the shed”

Like the great World Champion New Zealand All Blacks who tidy up their dressing room after every training and game, and believe humility is aligned with greatness, grateful players appreciate everyone around them. They appreciate everything they receive – there is no attitude of entitlement.

all blacks

Grateful hockey players enjoy pressure

Is there pressure in sports? Yes! But, grateful players recognize the incredible opportunity they have to demonstrate their skills and test their limits. You play a game you love often with people engaged and cheering what you do. Grateful players appreciate the meaning that pressure gives their experience. They know pressure is a privilege. Grateful players look around and appreciate the challenge that is being given to them.

Grateful hockey players do not rely on winning

Because they are so focused on a great process and appreciate great competition, the joy of grateful players is not dependent on winning. They want to win, but really appreciate their process, the competition and the challenge.

Grateful hockey players let go

When it’s time to play and practice, it is done with purpose, intention and efficiency. Grateful players work hard with intention but also appreciate and enjoy their time away from practice and competition – appreciating all parts of their life.

So, what can you do to become a grateful hockey player?

Here’s a start …

  • Realize how lucky you are to be playing a sport, having the opportunity to express yourself and having the opportunity to give your life meaning.
  • Remember you can only feel one emotion at once. Replace anxious feelings with feelings of gratefulness – make the decision to change your state with a shift to being grateful for this great opportunity to participate in your sport and test your abilities.

    “I can’t do this” or “what will they think if I lose” shifts to a grateful attitude…

    “How lucky am I to do this and test my skills”
  • As an exercise, at the end of each day, think about two things you are grateful for from the day. Get in the habit of being grateful for things in hockey and in your life away from hockey.

Remember to be grateful for what you have including your opportunity to play hockey. Hockey is not something you have to do, but something you get to do!

Do You Know Your Hockey Blind Spots?

Blind Spots

I was inspired to write this article by a quote I come across from a friend of mine, Melinda Harrison, a former Olympic swimmer who specializes in helping athletes transition from the world of sport to their next great venture.

“If you do not see the wave coming, it can smack you down and pull you under leaving you feeling tossed around, upside down, gasping for breath and picking out sand from areas you never knew existed,” she wrote.

I knew this feeling well in my professional sports career. I was tossed around often. In fact, these waves were blind spots that eventually derailed a professional sports career that had promise. I found myself metaphorically picking sand from areas I never knew existed (far too many times), and I didn’t understand how it was happening.

What are the blind spots in your game? Those waves you don’t see coming that leave you tossed around and falling short of your capabilities.

Right now is a great time of the year to roll up your sleeves and reflect on what happened during 2016 — and what you might do in 2017 to get more enjoyment and make some positive strides in your game. How was your hockey year? Happy with it? Wanting more?

In a reflection exercise, I highly recommend you consider your own blind spots, and what might be unconsciously holding you back from moving forward and getting more out of your game.

Blind spots damage performance

Working with world-class performers every day, I can assure you that understanding blind spots is important in performance. Almost every performer I have worked with has them, and I expect you do, too. Part of my job is to help these world-class performers identify their blind spots, making sure they have a clear view of what’s beneath their awareness and might therefore be holding them back.

blind spot warning

Let’s highlight the idea of blind spots by using my own professional sports career (professional golf) as an example. This may help you start thinking about your own blind spots and get the wheels turning. I had a few tendencies that were constantly beneath my awareness that kept me on the treadmill and not striding forward on a steady, consistent career path.

A few examples:

  • Focusing too much time on the long game in golf, obsessing about it and not allocating more effort to the game from 100 yards and in from the green. I neglected to keep the object of the game in mind (shooting the lowest score possible!).
  • Failing to develop my self-awareness. I had limited awareness how my emotions were knocking me around and creating a blurry focus, especially under the pressures of professional golf.
  • Not fully understanding the critical impact of others’ expectations on my day-to-day performance.
  • No clear path forward. I did not have a well-defined vision or detailed steps in place to guide day-to-day progress and development.

goalie-visor

You can imagine how these blind spots could make sustainable progress in my career difficult. Each of the areas above needed attention in order for me to have a better opportunity to reach new levels.

What are your hockey blind spots?

What is holding you back that may be beneath your awareness? In the next short while, I encourage you to think about your own blind spots, and also consider some feedback from others who may know your game. Chances are an honest assessment of your blind spots, and some outside feedback, will shed some light on the factors that are limiting you.

To help you further, here are a few, common hockey blind spots that I have seen in players I work with at a variety of levels. Could any of these apply to you?

  • Always having to be coached and not putting time in on your own to develop your skills – individual training and skill development is a key to excellence.
  • Getting far too caught up in the technical aspect of the game and neglecting the creative component.
  • Allowing small dips in performance to greatly impact your confidence.
  • Not having the discipline to work on weaknesses – working on strengths is fine but weaknesses need to be developed so they don’t limit you.
  • Effort in practice is nowhere near effort in games – when effort in practice should be higher than games.
  • Having trouble taking your game from the practice ice to the game ice and not understanding why.
  • Losing focus over small mistakes and not being able to get it back on track the rest of the game.
  • It’s either perfect or nothing – you insist on perfection and are never happy with your performance.
  • Not enjoying the game as much as you should and not knowing why.

These ideas should help you get started on your own assessment. What might be holding you back that you are not aware of? Take some time to think about it in the the next while. Reflection is an important characteristic in high performers and a key to improvement. Identifying your blind spots is a great first step in understanding what may be holding you back in your game on the ice.

Stick-Handling – Off-Ice Skills Series

Stick-Handling

Do you want to be as smooth as Sidney Crosby, or control the play like Jaromir Jagr? Consider these next stick-handling techniques and your game will elevate to the next level. As a young hockey player, most coaches will tell you to keep your head up, and this is very true. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t always sneak a peek at the puck. In fact, if you can understand and differentiate the times when you can and can’t look at the puck, this will allow you to become an elite stick-handler. You might ask yourself, well when don’t I look at the puck? This is largely the case when you are skating up the ice. As a hockey player you need to be able to read and react, and skate to open ice. However, when it comes to executing a difficult deke or dangle, this would be a time where taking a glance at the puck will definitely help. Keep in mind, before you take a glance down at the puck, you need to be aware of your surroundings. You don’t want to come across the middle of the ice with your head down and have the opposing defenseman step up to clean your clock, sending your jockstrap into the rafters.

kane skating pass others

When it comes to stick-handling, you want to be comfortable with the puck, becoming familiar with how it feels on the blade of your stick. As you become more and more comfortable, try stick-handling with your head up. Just because your head is up does not necessarily mean you cannot see the puck. In fact, if you have the puck in your sweet spot, meaning out in front of you with your arms extended slightly. You will be able to see the puck in your peripheral vision. This will enable you to stick-handle effectively, while skating up ice.



To become more comfortable with stick-handling, it’s important to practice moving at all positions around your body. For example, you can begin by stick-handling on your forehand or strong side, then move your arms across your body and continue to stick-handle on your other side. Another way that will elevate your puck control, is to stick-handle in place, then move your feet and body around the puck.

kopitar making a move on the goalie

Remember, practice is everything. Just by following these simple stick-handling techniques, you will become more and more comfortable with the puck, giving you the confidence to go on that end-to-end rush like PK Subban or Erik Karlsson! Consider using HockeyShot’s Extreme Dangler or Extreme Stickhandling Ball. Both products are an effective training tool that will fine tune your stick-handling to the likes of NHL pros.

Passing – Off-Ice Skills Series

Passing

Passing is a fundamental skill in the game of hockey. Some of the most successful hockey players in the world are masters when it comes to making and receiving a pass. After reading this article, you will have the basics on what it takes to become a true playmaker and fill that stat sheet.

drop pass

One of the first things you will be taught as a young hockey player is to cup and cushion the puck. For any of you who have ever watched the movie The Mighty Ducks, Coach Bombay got his team to practice passing eggs to one another. It may seem silly, but Coach Bombay was enforcing the principle of cup and cushion. When it comes to passing, it’s important to treat the puck as if it was an egg, because if you do not cup and cushion the pass, the puck will likely bounce off your stick, resulting in you losing possession of the puck. To better understand the concept of cup and cushion, consider the following. Cupping refers to a hockey player closing the blade of the stick, preventing the puck from bouncing off the face of the blade. While Cushion refers to a hockey player’s stick meeting the puck, then embracing it upon impact. Keep in mind, by shifting your weight upon impact from front to back, this will likely increase your chance of receiving the pass.



Those are the fundamentals of receiving the puck. Now, we will take a look on how to make a solid, crisp hockey pass. Like shooting, passing requires you to envision the target and to lead your stick in the direction you want your pass to go. One of the most important things to remember is to lead with the tip of your blade and to keep your stick low. To be a complete hockey player and a true playmaker, it’s crucial to practice passing on both the forehand and backhand. Keep in mind, passing on the backhand still uses the principle of cup and cushion. However, when making a pass it’s important to remember to keep the puck close to the heel. The natural curve of the blade will force the puck up and off the blade.

After considering these passing techniques, it’s time to practice and perfect your skills. Consider HockeyShot’s Extreme Passing Kit and Sauce Combos, which includes a small-to-large surfaces/ clamp-on puck rebounders and mini nets.

One-Timer – Off-Ice Skills Series

One-Timer

The one-timer can be a fun and exciting shot in hockey. However, it takes a lot of practice to perfect and execute correctly. Basically, the one-timer is a quick release shot, where your teammate passes you the puck and instead of receiving the pass, you position yourself to execute a slap-shot, without stopping or cradling the puck for control. Essentially, you are receiving and shooting the puck all in one fluid motion.

seguin taking a shot

The one-timer can prove to be a quick and effective shot, leaving little time for a goaltender to set-up and position him/ herself to make the save. First and foremost, it requires a great deal of skill to complete a one-timer. But, with a lot of practice and determination, you can turn a lot of heads by blasting that game-winning goal past the goalie. The key to a good one-timer is, you need to have a good slap-shot as foundation. Once your slap-shot is established, it’s important that you can consistently execute the slap-shot and have good timing. One thing to keep in mind when taking a one-timer, is that you need to have a short wind-up. If your wind-up is too big, chances are you will not have enough time to catch up to the puck, having the puck slip right past you. That being said, your wind-up should be short, where your stick stays below your waist. As you become more comfortable with one-timers, you will be able to time passes better, leading you to have bigger wind-ups, leading to quicker and harder shots.



Another thing to consider when practicing one-timers, is to practice receiving passes from different angles. Not all passes are going to result in you winding up to take a slap-shot. Some passes will come across your body and will force you to quickly cradle the puck and fire off a wrist-shot, all in one motion. Remember, it’s imperative that you are aware of the direction of your target, and that you lead your skate in the direction that you want to shoot. By having a strong push-off with your back foot, this will lead to a quicker and harder shot. And as always, practice makes perfect. HockeyShot provides a lot of off-ice training aids that will help improve your game.

crosby shooting

To improve on your one-timers, consider training aids like the HS Passing Kits or Dryland Flooring Tiles. Both products will give you a smooth surface and can help you time passes, ultimately leading you to have that one-timer that is feared by every goaltender in the league!

Quick Release – Off-Ice Skills Series

Quick Release

The major difference between an average goal scorer and an elite goal scorer, like Patrick Kane or Tyler Seguin, is their ability to get the shot off quick. By having a quick release, this will allow you to have a step up on the goaltender, preventing him or her from getting set-up in the net to make the stop. When it comes to having a quick and effective release, it’s important to consider the following:

kane making a move before shooting

First, to have a quick release, you need to shorten your wind-up. Like a one-timer, if you have a big wind-up, you are giving the goaltender time to move into position for your shot. All that you need to do is to drag your stick back to the back heel of your skate and release the puck using the push/ pull motion. The push/ pull motion is probably the component that makes the quick release so effective. Essentially, the “push” refers to a hockey player pushing or extending his/ her arms out from the body. Next comes the “pull” effect, which is the notion that a hockey player pulls his/ her top hand back, while pushing forward on the lower hand. Keep in mind, the flex of the stick can play a vital role in this concept. A stick that has a lower flex will result in more whip or torque, resulting in a stronger release. However, a stick that is stiff or that has a higher flex, will result in a weaker shot. Although this all sounds very technical, this does not necessarily apply to younger hockey players, as they do not have as much strength as older hockey players.



Lastly, a quick release shot can prove to be even more effective when you change the angle of the shot. By changing the angle of the shot, this does not necessarily mean changing the angle of shot elevation, rather, it means changing the angle of the release point. For example, if you were approaching the goaltender and were ready to take a shot, the goaltender can anticipate the location of the shot by simply watching the blade of the stick. However, if you were to approach that same goaltender later in the game and were ready to let go a quick release shot, you could be deceptive by slightly changing the release point by doing a slight toe drag, moving the puck closer to your body, then releasing it. Just by moving the puck several inches can significantly change the possible locations that the puck can travel, causing the goaltender to readjust to the new release point. Again, this all sounds very technical, but you can practice the quick release from different angles by simply placing pucks in a square grid on your forehand, and shooting the pucks from inside, outside, ahead and in back of your stance.

datsyuk taking a shot

What are you waiting for? Pick up a HS Shooting Pad and HS Extreme Shooting Tarp today and work on beating the goalie quickly before he can see the puck coming!

Shot Accuracy – Off-Ice Skills Series

Shot Accuracy

Some players in the NHL score goals off the pure strength and power of their shot. However, some NHL’ers score goals on pure finesse and shot location. Consider players like Phil Kessel or Alex Ovechkin, who just always seem to find the back of the net. There are many factors involved, however, all natural goal scorers have one thing in common, they know where to shoot and how to get it there.

ovi on ice

One thing that may be a surprise to many, but has proven to be an effective technique on scoring, is the ability to visualize where you want the puck to go. Many goal scorers at all levels have the innate ability to visualize themselves scoring before they even take the shot. So when you are out practicing in your driveway or in your back yard, picture yourself shooting the puck short-side or going bar-down. You will be surprised that a simple mental trick of visualization will lead you to filling that net. That being said, there is still more to consider when working on your shooting accuracy. For instance, you can’t have an accurate shot if you aren’t looking at your target. If you want your shot to go top right corner, have your eyes locked onto that corner and let it rip. Not only do you want your eyes or body to move in the direction of your target, but it is essential to move your stick in that direction as well. If you want a low shot, make sure that you have a nice, fluid motion, keeping your stick and blade low as well. Like any other shot, your shot location or release point is vital. As mentioned in the shot power article, being aware of one’s “sweet spot” will be the difference between you scoring or being robbed by the goaltender.



Lastly, it’s important to be aware of your body’s movement and mechanics. This can only be done by continuously practicing your shot. There is no such thing as too many practice shots. Next time you are practicing your shot, become familiar of the movements and techniques required to get your shot at the desired location. Even the best hockey players in the world miss the net from time to time, so don’t be discouraged if you miss your shot. An accurate shooter will always read and adjust their mechanics, almost always nailing their second shot.

Hopkins shooting at targets

Practice makes perfect, so go out there and have fun and visualize yourself scoring! Here are some HockeyShot training aids that will help you snipe more goals: HS Extreme Shooter Tutor and HS Extreme Goal Targets.

Shot Power – Off-Ice Skills Series

Shot Power

There are not too many players in the NHL that would dive in front of a shot from Shea Weber or Zdeno Chara, and I don’t blame them. But what makes them such a threat on the power play is their ability to power a shot through to the net. To have a powerful shot, there are many things a hockey player needs to consider. The most important component of having a powerful shot is the stance of the hockey player.

chara taking a shot

Keep in mind, you need to have a relaxed stance and have the ability to transfer your weight from one foot to the other. A good rule of thumb is to have your nose go from toe-to-toe. Secondly, you want to have a strong push off your back foot and step toward your intended target. Keeping that in mind, it’s imperative that the mechanics of the shot and the stride are in one cohesive, fluid movement. Lastly, like the quick release, shot location is key to having a strong shot. As a hockey player, everyone is different, which makes it that much more important to find and be familiar with your “sweet spot”. Basically, your “sweet spot” is the location where you are most comfortable to release your shot, and more often than not, is the spot that allows you to have your most powerful shot. Like any other skill, practice is the only way to improve. To improve on your shot and shot power, be sure to take lots of shots. It’s not uncommon for many young hockey players to take up to a hundred shots a day.



HockeyShot has everything you need to release a bomb from the blue line! We recommend the HS Extreme Hockey Radar and Hockey Stick Weight to get you started.