Great goal scorers seem to have a knack for putting the puck in the net. The rest of us have to work at it. Seriously, the great goal scorers work just as hard on their shots. They just make it look easy.
You can’t stand still and shoot a puck hard. You need to get your body moving forward to get momentum behind your shot. That means getting your legs into the act. It’s kind of like throwing a ball. If you have no forward motion, you won’t be able to throw a ball as fast and as far. And if you want to have a strong shot, use your legs, which are the strongest part of your body.
One of the biggest questions I hear is, ‘Where should the puck be – in close to my body or out away from it?’ The position of the puck varies depending on the situation. You may not have time to tee it up the way you’d like. A lot of great goal scorers move the puck in toward their bodies as they get ready to shoot. This changes the release point and may fool a goaltender. It also allows you to generate more power since the shot is closer to your body than it is if your arms were away from your body.
As I said, you don’t always have a lot of time to get the shot off. That’s why it’s important to be able to shoot off both feet and practice a quick release. But before you start cranking shots that way, it’s best to learn how to properly transfer your weight from your back foot to your front as you’re following through on a shot. You’ll get more power this way.
To practice your release and accuracy, one of my favorite drills is to line up 10 feet from the boards and aim at a spot. As you improve, pick a smaller spot. Soon you can progress to a net, picking a corner and trying to put the puck there. It’s a simple drill, but it’s great because you can do it on your own.
Remember This …
You shoot to score goals, and to do that you have to get the puck on net. It doesn’t matter how hard you shoot if you can’t hit the net. My coaches always emphasized accuracy over velocity. It’s a lesson I’ve carried with me to the pros.
photo by Getty Images • Illustrations by Mike Curti