Here is some information about shooting. Most of these ideas were developed from a shooting clinic that I helped Ron Ellis (former Toronto Maple Leaf) give to several groups of female hockey players at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto (during the week of August 29th - September 1st, 1994).
This is the most important shot. It's the shot that so many young Canadians/Americans learn in their living room at a very young age. Whether you're using sticks for street hockey or ones for ice, fundamentals are important. The most important thing is the weight transfer. The weight transfer is like a lot of other sports such as baseball and golf. Your weight will transfer from your back to your front leg. Stand perpendicular to your target with your stick cupped on the puck and the puck behind your back foot. Transfer your weight as you move the puck forward, and follow through. As you are sliding the puck forward on the ice, quickly reverse your wrists to make the puck rise more. A low or a high follow through will determine how high the puck goes. When you finish your follow through, your stick should be pointing towards your target. I find that I get more power on my shot when I start with the puck closer to the heel of my stick (than to the toe).
The technique is exactly the same as the forehand wrist-shot. However, the most common problem is that people usually put the puck too far in front of them when they start. When you do this, you don't get any power in your shot. Like the forehand wrist-shot, you must cup the puck on your backhand, and bring it back behind you. Lean into the shot and bend your knees to help raise it off the ground. Again, as in the forehand wrist-shot, weight transfer is very important.
Having a good backhand shot can be very useful in deking. If you only have a good forehand shot, you are very easy for the defense to stop. They don't have to worry about you deking so that you are ready to take a shot on your backhand. They know that you are only interested in going to your forehand, so it makes you easy to stop.
As a left-handed shooter on the left wing, I would skate down the left side of the ice, and then deke to my backhand. When I make the deke, I must bring the puck in close to my body so that I shield it from the defender. Then I dig my skates in and let a backhand wrist-shot go at the net.
This is an effective quick-release shot. It can be used in the high slot area. When the puck comes from the corner, if you can use the snap-shot to get a quick shot to the far side of the net (since the goalie will be hugging the opposite post), then you'll have a very good chance of scoring.
The technique is just a quick reverse of the wrists. There is no wind-up at all. Follow through in the direction of the target.
It's very effective when you can let a shot go quickly off your wrong foot. This will allow you to skate towards your target and release very quickly. You will also be balanced and ready to protect yourself from that 250 lb defender who is on you as you let your shot go from the top of the slot.
If you shoot left (sorry about the bias towards leftys, but that's the way I shoot!), the way to practice this is to have someone pass the puck to you from the left corner of the rink. You stand in the slot, and take the snap-shot towards the left side of the goal, as the goalie will be still covering her right side (since the puck just came from the corner).
~o <|> / <\ _/ z z * . pass . . __ . |\ )_ ~o . o | \__) <|> . <|> | | | <\ \ . goalie | | z z \/* . . . . . *|_/ snap-shot scores!
This is one of the least effective shots. It is mainly important for the defense on the powerplay. People like to use it because it looks impressive, but sometimes it's not the best shot in a situation (it does not have a fast release).
When you contact the puck, you should contact the ice one inch behind the puck. It is this impact which causes your shaft to bend, thus giving your shot power. If you are really strong, then you can contact the puck about 3 inches behind it. This will cause the shaft to bend even more, causing an even more powerful shot. Some people like to slide their bottom hand down a little as they take the slap-shot.
The puck should be a little bit lower than the centre of the blade of your stick (closer to the heel than the toe) (see "+" in diagram below). As you shoot the puck, the puck will sort of roll up and propel off the toe of your stick, as shown by the arrow in the diagram below:
// _______// |____+__/ <---
You don't need a big wind-up when you take a slap-shot. Keep your stick cupped (closed) in your backswing, as you do with the wrist-shot. Like in the wrist-shot, the height of your follow through will determine how high the puck goes. Also, like in the wrist-shot, the most important thing with this shot is the weight transfer. This is where you get a lot of the power. Your weight will shift from your back to your front leg. Keep those knees bent! Click here for Tim Falconer's Six Stages of the Slapshot.
So often the defense take shots from the point, which leave rebounds lying in the crease area, and the forward comes in and shoots it right into the sprawling goalie's pads. If you can lift the puck into the "roof" of the net, over the goalie, you'll get a lot more goals. Dave Andrechuck of the Leafs stays after practice working on this skill, and it sure pays off for him, as he scores a lot of his goals from the crease area.
The way to practice this is to line up a number of puck around the crease. A left-handed shooter starts from the right side of the goal. One by one, pull the puck in towards you with the tip of your stick (this will give the puck momentum) and reverse your wrists very quickly to lift the puck up into the top mesh part ("roof") of the goal.
You will be very dangerous in the crease area if you can also do this on your backhand. It will also come in very handy when you deke the goalie to your backhand on a breakaway. You'll make the goalie have to guess which way you are going if you can deke equally well to both your forehand and backhand.
Of course shooting technique is not cast in stone. It can vary a lot from player to player, and each may still have very good shots. I would suggest altering your style to see what works for you. Technique is extremely important, but I think that if you can improve your strength (by doing weights and other strengthening exercises), this will also help. The bottom line is that the best way to improve your shot is just to practice, practice, practice. Like most things, there is no easy way out. Find yourself a partner or a piece of wall and just keep shooting, shooting, shooting! We have a brick wall in our back room at home which will attest to the fact that I used to practice my shot there a lot --- there is hardly any mortar left on the bricks in one particular area of the wall --- needless to say, my parents were not impressed! ;-) Best of luck, but take it easy on the walls!
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