Shooting is one of the most complex movements in any sport. The combinations of angles, dangles, rushes, and cellys are endless. We’ve all seen the player rushing down the wing when all of a sudden – the puck is in the back of the net. If you want to score more goals, you have to work to improve your shot velocity. This can be done by just refining your technique and unlocking the power you have in your lower body.
While players think that they need to get stronger to shoot harder - strength doesn’t necessarily translate to shot velocity. Whether it’s weighted pucks or forearm exercises, players are often misled to believe that improving their “arm strength” is the secret to an explosive wrist or snapshot.
In reality, getting stronger is only one piece of the equation, and forearm strength is truly the last piece of that equation. This is because shooting, regardless of the shot, requires kinetic chains to generate maximum power. How players utilize these chains of muscles is what’s going to ultimately define their ability to generate power far greater than just relying on a single muscle group. This starts with the lower body, which is translated through the core, and eventually expressed and amplified through the upper body.
Despite this, players often have the tendency to default into shooting with their arms, wasting the power and energy in their lower body and failing to unlock maximum power and velocity.
Let’s take it up a level and use the power of your shot velocity with a real game scenario. One of the most thrilling opportunities a player can get in a game is an end-to-end rush. No slowing down. No setting up. No sign that they’re about to shoot. The ability to score off the rush – now that is the calling card of an elite goal scorer.
Developing the ability to step into a shot mid-stride, without stopping your feet, turns you from a player who scores to a true goal scorer. But truthfully, this is a challenging attribute to develop. By utilizing the power generated from your lower body advancing up your core, the shot velocity from a rush will be powerful.
Just like our previous focuses, we want to make sure that we’re maximizing our force into our stick to create the flex needed to generate an explosive shot. However, the elite goal scorers have the ability to generate that intense flex by stepping into their shots – instead of pulling back. This allows them to generate insane levels of flex into their sticks and generate more velocity on the puck, all while hiding their shot release within a stride.
With putting your entire body’s force into your shot, along with the power from the stride, this activates a wicked shot that is tough for any goalie to keep up with. This strength ultimately allows for more and higher quality shots off the rush, and the ability to stun goalies with a faster and hidden release. Let’s take a look at two drills that will help you achieve just that!
DRILL #1: LOWER BODY PUSH-OFF
For this drill, set up a block or board on your back foot that you can push off of
This will allow you to truly emphasize pushing off you back leg and unlocking the power in your lower body
- Get set up in a strong and athletic position. Before each shot, feel as though you’re loaded up in your lower body and ready to explode into a shot.
- Start by generating as much force as possible off your back leg. This might feel awkward at first but learning to drive off your hip with 10x your power generation.
- Finish through towards the net. We want to drive our energy forward into our shot, and not waste any by standing up.
DRILL #2: STEPPING INTO OUR SHOTS TO MAXIMIZE FLEX
Similar to our previous focuses, we still want to maximize our flex by generating force down into the stick. Instead of starting our shot by pushing off of our back leg, the purpose of this drill is to start our shot by stepping into our stick.
We want to focus on the front-facing snapshot and generating force into our stick through a “stepping into it” motion. It might take a couple of reps to find the body positions and technique to maximize your leverage into your stick but when you do, you’ll enter a whole new level of goal scoring ability.
- It can be helpful to start by practicing a couple of reps of just the “front-facing snapshot” - focus on creating strong and braced body positions, and work on our goal scorers twitch.
- As we step into the shot, we want to feel as though we’re stepping down and into our stick to really maximize our flex.
- This shot is intended to be fast and explosive. Just like our goal scorers twitch drill, we want to get that puck off our stick as quickly as possible.
- Continue your momentum and everything towards the net as you finish your shot.