Shooting: How to Improve Your Shot

Welcome to “Saturday’s with Steve”, a weekly blog encapsulating everything 4D Hockey and beyond in the hockey world.  This week, I will be going in-depth in explaining how we conduct our Shooting lessons at the training center on the synthetic ice.  While most players are able to produce quality shots on occasion, our goal is to make your shot consistently accurate and powerful.  This is done through a process, similar to the Skatemill, where we strip the shot down to its bare form and work our way out from there.

When a player first comes in for a Shooting lesson at 4DTC, the first thing we do is evaluate the shot.  This is done by giving the player a small pile of pucks and letting them shoot how they would normally on the ice.  While the player is taking their first few shots, we are evaluating them and figuring out what we need to work on first.  There are some instances, mostly in younger players, where we may even start out by passing the puck back and forth before we get in to the shot.  Starting with passing allows the player to learn what each hand does to make the stick work, as the motion for passing and shooting are the same.  

After we evaluate the player’s shot, we start to get into the specific details of the shot.  We will normally start with the player standing still and taking shots from two feet.  We will get them set up in the proper body position and explain why we are in that position.  As the player begins to shoot, we are looking for mechanical errors that could be causing misses.

As we continue through various drills, our focus remains on the mechanics.  Most times when a player either misses their target or doesn’t get enough power on their shot, it is caused by a breakdown in mechanics.  We are always talking with the player and giving them reminders when needed, and taking the time to stop the drill and talk through issues to make sure we find the solution.  When evaluating the player, we start from the ground up.  Are their feet square to the net? Are their knees collapsing in causing them to lose balance? Are their hips opening up? Are they leaning too far into their stick? These are just a few examples of reasons why a shot can end up missing the mark.  In many instances, when one of these things goes wrong it can cause a domino effect and cause other portions of their mechanics to fail.  

EXAMPLE: A left-handed player pulls a shot to the right of the net.  While this could be for any number of reasons, let’s just say for the sake of this example they started with a bad stance and the shoulder of their bottom hand was dipped towards the ground.  When following through on the shot, this will cause the player’s body to twist to correct itself as the body tries to get back square to the target.  As the body twists, the stick path follows.  The twist of the body causes the stick to move off its original path, in this case causing a miss to the right of the net.

Coming back full circle to the domino effect I mentioned earlier, the miss in the example above was caused by the stance the player was in before the shot was even released.  While there were other factors at play, such as body twist, opening of hips, and a change in stick path, the root cause of the miss was the stance itself.  This is an example of how we look for the root of the issue. In this case we would address the stance the player set themselves up in, and fixing this should then fix all the other mistakes that happened after as the stance caused all of the other mechanical breakdowns.  

Once a player masters the basics of shooting mechanics, there is an option to move the player into their skates, as these lessons take place on our synthetic ice.  Once a player is in skates, this opens up a plethora of new drills and talking points as now we can add real movement into the shots.  Shooting from a stand still and shooting while moving are quite different, so it is good to be able to practice and understand both.  

The most important part of the Shooting lessons is making sure you are applying what we teach you when you are shooting by yourself.  It is one thing to gain the knowledge, but if you are not actively trying to apply these concepts to your shot you will just end up regressing back to your old shooting habits.  

Thank you for reading my blog post covering our Shooting lessons.  Click HERE to schedule your session with us now.  We hope to see you at 4DTC very soon!

This blog will run weekly dropping every Saturday on the 4D website:  You can also find links to the blog on all of the 4D social accounts: @4dhockey. I’ll see you back next Saturday for the next blog, until then have a great week and train hard!

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