Photo: Christine Wisch
How many times do you think a forward takes a slap shot in a game? I think back to my playing days and I’d say I probably only took one a game to dump the puck in –maybe one or two more if I was out on the penalty kill.
So you can understand how it makes me a little crazy as a skills coach when forwards ask to work on the boomers. It’s not a complete waste of time, but they’d be much better served working on something else. Specifically, all players, Ds included, need to work on getting their shots off FASTER.
Over 75 percent of the goals scored in girls’ hockey are scored from the hashmarks down. That means three-quarters of the goals come from shots taken from the slot or rebounds.
Think about what’s happening in front of the net in those scenarios. If you happen to get an uncontested breakaway and there’s no one there to obstruct or deny your shot on net (other than the goalie of course), then you may have the luxury of TIME and SPACE and could decide to shoot a slap shot, wrist shot, snap shot or backhand.
But how often does that happen? You rarely get that kind of time and space, and even if you do, you’re more likely to shoot a snap shot or backhand on that breakaway because you can get them off more quickly and be a bit more deceptive leading up to the shot.
Typically, when you’re in the slot taking a shot or trying to fight for a rebound, there are lots of bodies around and not much time or space. The defenders are simply trying to deny shots on net by either lifting your stick, getting in your shooting lane or a mixture of both. They aren’t going to give you the time or space to take your big wind-up and wait for the perfect shot. That’s why the snap shot and backhand are so lethal from in tight because if you do them well, you can get them off almost instantaneously. They require very little backswing and very little change in body position to release.
And when you get really good, you’ll even learn how to position your body in what little space you might have down by the net to ensure that you get your shot off even more quickly. Once you learn how to position your feet, hips and hands properly relative to the direction the puck is coming from and your target, you’ll become a threat to score every time you touch the puck in the slot.
Now, this skill of quick release shooting isn’t just for forwards. The ability to get a quick, hard and accurate snap shot off from the point is an underrated skill in the women’s game. I get it – the boomer looks impressive, is typically much harder and can strike fear in your opponents. But it takes more time to release and has this annoying tendency to hit shin pads or the glass instead of the net. This happens with the snap shot from the point as well, but you don’t need as much of a wind-up as the slap shot, and when you get good at it, you won’t even have to look down at the puck before putting the snap shot on net – which means you can spend more time looking at the target and avoiding any obstacles in your path.
It takes great technique and strength to get a hard, fast and accurate snap shot in from the point, but it is something that coaches and scouts love because they are shots that generate second opportunities for your forwards in the slot – who are ready to use their snap shot or backhand to put the puck in the back of the net.
So don’t wait for the perfect shot, don’t worry about getting the boomer off, and focus on getting pucks on net quickly and driving the net hard for rebounds.Your coaches will thank you for it – and the goalies won’t like it at all.
Having elite shooting and stickhandling skills will give you a serious advantage over the competition. The Total Female Hockey Elite Shooting & Stickhandling Video Series gives you an 8-week step-by-step plan for taking your stick skills to the next level without having to even step on the ice. To read more, visit: click here. Kim McCullough, MSc, YCS, is an expert in the development of aspiring female hockey players. She is a former NCAA Division I captain at Dartmouth and played in the National Women’s Hockey League for six years. She is currently the Head Coach of the Toronto-Leaside Wildcats in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League and is the Director & Founder of Total Female Hockey.