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Shooting Fundamentals: Breaking it Down to the Basics

I’ve been coaching hockey and running hockey schools for the past 30 years, and started focusing on shooting instruction about five years ago. As you’ve probably guessed, my experience has enabled me to refine my teaching methods and assist beginners, professional players and everyone in between.

Shooting is a key element of hockey, so we’re going to focus on breaking down the fundamentals so you can elevate your game regardless of your skill level. The four shooting fundamentals I always teach include:

  1. Weight transfer
  2. Eyes up
  3. Wrist roll and follow through
  4. Pull, push and roll

Weight Transfer

I refer to the body as a house to help players conceptualize shooting fundamentals. When you’re in the shooting position, your house has a backyard (behind your body) and front yard (in front of your body). The puck should start in your backyard, travel through your house and be released in your front yard. This requires weight transfer from one side of your body to the other. The result? Weight transfer creates power, which is needed for a strong shot.

One important aspect of weight transfer is “nose over toes.” As you’re shooting, you want your head positioned forward over your toes. This transfers upper body weight and allows you to lean down on the stick, which gives you more control and accuracy.

Eyes Up

Your eyes should be on your target. This might seem straightforward, but a lot of people (especially young or new players) tend to look at the puck instead. Your eyes should be on whichever target you’re aiming to hit because you’ll achieve much higher accuracy.

Wrist Roll & Follow Through

Proper wrist roll and follow through is needed to improve power and accuracy. Start by cupping the puck with your stick blade in your backyard, which requires a wrist roll. You’ll naturally open your wrists or shift them to a more neutral position while bringing the puck through your house, which allows you to grab the puck on your blade. As you’re releasing the shot in your front yard, you want to quickly roll your wrists over (essentially back to the original backyard position) to create power and increase accuracy.

If you were to freeze after a forehand shot, you should notice two things:

  1. Your stick should be pointing right at your target after releasing the puck
  2. The forehand of your blade should be pointing down towards the ice due to your wrist roll

Pull, Push and Roll

As you bring the puck through your house, you need to keep your hands away from your body so you can pull and push. The top hand pulls back hard to your chest, while the bottom hand pushes at the same time, causing a lever effect. You complete your shot with a wrist roll, as discussed above, once your stick passes your front toe. I encourage all players to work on the pull, push and roll system because power is limited if you only complete one or two.

Building a Foundation

These four fundamentals will equip you with a strong shooting foundation, and allow you to become a more advanced shooter with practice and proper coaching. I’m holding a shooting camp at the end of June that focuses on these principles, as well as more advanced instruction.

2017 Base Shooters Camp
Date: June 21-23, 2017
Time: 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Ages: Novice, Atom, Peewee
Location: Garrison Arena B, Edmonton

Chris Joseph Hockey School also works with BASE Hockey Edmonton to provide private one-on-one shooting instruction if you’re interested in more personalized coaching sessions. Stay tuned for my next blog articles, which will focus on fundamentals for wrist, snap and slap shots.