Playing hockey involves learning different skills and combining them together to use in a game. The basic skills needed in hockey are skating and stick handling. After these skills are accomplished a player needs to learn how to shoot the puck. There are different ways to shoot a puck in hockey, but this instructable will focus on taking a slap shot and will provide the user the basic knowledge used to perfect the mechanics of a slap shot. A slap shot is the most powerful shot a player can take in hockey. This type of shot is usually used if the player is not close to the net, it is more of a long range distance shot. Correctly learning how to take a slap shot is important, but practice will improve your shot more than anything else.
Step 1: Equipment Needed
- Ice rink or pond
- Ice hockey skates
- Hockey stick, with the correct length, curvature and flex (explained below)
- Hockey puck
- Helmet, if not comfortable on ice skates
The right hockey stick is very important in taking a slap shot. The player needs to find a stick that they are comfortable with, and one they can maximize their shot with. Sticks are made of different materials, whether it be wood or a composite carbon fiber. The carbon fiber sticks are lighter and stronger. The carbon fiber material allows the stick to bend and creates a slingshot effect, which is crucial for taking a slapshot. Each stick has a particular "flex number", the higher the number, the more the stick will flex, as the number decreases this means the stick is stiffer or more rigid. A stronger player will tend to use a lower flex than a weaker player because the weaker player needs to be able to flex the stick to create the slingshot effect. Each stick also has a particular curve to the blade, which comes down to player preference. Playing with differently curved blades will allow the player to find which one is preferred. Lastly, the length of the stick is crucial to being able to correctly take a slap shot. Again, this is player preference, but a longer stick provides more leverage and therefore more power to your shot, but this will negatively effect your stick handling ability with the puck.
Step 2: How to Grip the Hockey Stick
If you are a left handed shot, place your right hand around the top of the stick, palm facing down and your left hand about one quarter of the way down your stick with your palm facing up. During the windup of a slap shot your hand position will change which will be covered in another step.
Step 3: Mechanics of Taking a Slap Shot
A slap shot can be taken standing still or with a skating start, but both ways the same mechanics will apply. Begin by creating a wide base with your feet farther than shoulder width apart, slight bend in the knees and bent over forwards towards the puck. This athletic posture makes for a good starting point to begin your windup and a sturdy base to operate from.
Step 4: The Windup
Begin your windup by rotating your arms and shoulders around your body. The players eyes should be firmly focused on the puck throughout the windup. Simultaneously slide your left hand lower on the stick towards the blade, this will allow you to take a more powerful shot. Each player has a different windup, some players have shorter windups and others have longer, wider windups. The length and size of your windup should be long enough to create tourque within your mid section which can then be released on the follow through.
Step 5: Downswing
After reaching the peak of your windup, the downswing begins with rotating your hips towards your target, and your shoulders and arms will follow. As the downswing begins your weight is simultaneously shifting onto your front or right foot (for a left-handed shooter). The most important part of taking a slap shot is making contact with the ice prior to hitting the puck. By hitting the ice first, you are creating a slingshot effect by flexing your stick against the ice. The hockey stick will then want to straighten out, or return to its original shape, which will propel the puck even faster.
Step 6: Follow Through
Continue exerting all the momentum you have created through the puck after making contact. Your weight should be completely on your right foot now and the blade of your stick will be pointing at your target. Following these steps during practice will result in improved mechanics and a more powerful slapshot.