How to Take a Slapshot in Ice Hockey

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The slap-shot is a very important part of any hockey game. If you do not know how to do it correctly, it will not have the desired effect (and it can be quite embarrassing when you wiff on the puck completely). This is a guide to help you improve on your slap-shot, or begin to learn how to do one.

Steps

  1. Understand how a slapshot works. The hockey stick is aggressively slapped (almost as hard as you can) and bent on the ice, building tension that is then released against the puck in the direction of the intended target. Even though this technique can generate a puck speed of over 100mph, its not as accurate or as convenient as other shots.
  2. Learn when to take a slap-shot. Its tempting to wind up on the one-timer heading for you when youre right at the top of those hash marks, but try to restrain yourself. The vast majority of the time, something much more simple will work better. Slap-shots should be used primarily by a defenseman when in his position near the blue line. This allows for a tip by a forward standing in front of the net.
  3. Point your feet towards the puck, which should be about 3 feet from your skates. Do not point your skates at your target (which is the net, hopefully); this is a huge mistake made by beginners. Later on, if youre short on time during a play, or cannot position yourself correctly for the shot, you can take a shot with your feet a little crooked.
  4. Glance at the net. You probably wont have much time to get your puck off if you spend too much time aiming at this point. A simple glance will do for now to get the general direction of where you want to shoot.
  5. Get the proper grip. If youre right-handed, you should be holding your stick with your left hand at the top. Your right hand should be lower than where you would normally carry it when stick-handling or skating. Make sure your hands are shoulder length apart on the stick, as the stick reaches its highest point your hands will separate a little more and move down the shaft, and as you finish the shot, your hand should end up somewhere near shoulder length apart. (NOTE: A majority of left handed hockey players shoot on the left making these instructions completely backwards. Your right hand would be on the top of the stick because you would use your dominant hand for best control)
  6. Wind up. Dont do this to an extreme; pulling back way above your head doesnt add power and sacrifices time and accuracy drastically. Pulling the stick back to your waist should be sufficient. You should be looking down at the puck at this point so you dont miss it. Especially as a beginner, while trying to learn the overall movement, during the windup dont bring the blade of your stick any higher than your waist. Once you have a reasonable shot, you can increase your windup. With good mechanics it is possible to unlease a very powerful slapshot with little windup.
  7. Take another look at the goal and aim as you wind up. If youre going for a goal, you should aim for a particular spot on the net, not just the net itself. If youre taking a shot hoping a teammate will tip it (this is recommended over an actual shot for a goal), keep your eyes on the ice and on your teammates stick side.
  8. Make contact with the ice inches before you hit the puck. Many mistakenly hit only the puck, thinking the ice will slow their shot. If performed correctly, however, hitting the ice with your stick moments before contact with the puck will cause your stick to "flex" and shoot the puck off like an arrow from a bowstring.
  9. During contact with the puck, roll your wrists so that the thumb on your dominant hand (right hand if right-handed, left hand if left-handed) turns down towards the ice. This adds accuracy to your shot.
  10. Follow through with your shot to where youre aiming. After initial contact, follow through completely in the direction you want the puck to go. This makes for a more accurate shot, and it also helps keep your puck stable in the air. Your shoulders should finish facing the net, your hips should twist towards the direction of the shot, and your front foot should turn towards the direction of the shot. After following through, your stick and body should be pointing (gliding) towards the direction of your shot.

Tips

  • Where the blade of your stick finishes is where your shot will end up. If your blade is high off the ground, your shot should end up high; low - low.
  • Take slow shots when starting out. Dont worry about power; instead practice location of the shots, and the location of the puck on your stick. Once you become comfortable, you can begin speeding up the motion of your swing, and the speed of the shot will follow.
  • Bend your knees -- this is vital as it increases the momentum of your body by using the muscles in your legs.
  • Keep practicing. Reading about slapshots on the Internet all day isnt going to help your shot as much as practicing will! Make sure to notice any mistakes youre making and consciously think about correcting them when practicing.
  • The distance between where you hit the ice to flex the stick and where the puck is vary from person to person. If your having a hard time getting the puck in the air, hit the ice further back.
  • In your slap shot, you hit the ice before the puck. Follow through with your shot pointing with the end of your stick to where you want the puck to go. The more force you put onto your stick the more accurate your shot should be.
  • Roll your wrists during your shot, this is where most of your accuracy comes from in addition to pointing to where you want the puck to go. Even if you point your stick, the puck will never go where you want it to if you dont roll your wrists during your contact with the puck.
  • Always wear a cup

Warnings

  • Keep your head up! This is always true in hockey, when you could get run over any minute by a huge body check, but it is especially important when you are trying to take a shot. It is always better to get the shot off and take the hit for your team.
  • Make sure teammates know youre shooting and are ready. Players can often get confused and end up facing the wrong direction and get a puck to the back of the leg where there is no protection. This leaves at best a nasty bruise and a limp for a while. Opposing players should be facing you and if they get hit by a puck, well, too bad. They know what theyre in for and should know not to be facing the wrong way from a puck.
  • The impact of hitting the ice/ground repetitively can cause injury, such as bursitis, especially if you are using a very stiff stick. Experiment with different flexibility ratings on composite sticks.

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Sources and Citations

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