Scoring goals is a difficult skill to develop. The great majority of players need to develop a better tactical and technical awareness when developing sniping proficiency and success. There are many important factors to scoring. Strategy, Deception, Speed, Shot Selection and Puck Tracking are key. Too often players panic with the puck and make poor decisions when in prime scoring positions. It’s critical for players to elevate their understanding and awareness of scoring tactics. Here, I’ve broken down the 10 key elements I teach my players to help them find scoring success.
1. Situational Awareness. Understanding the majority of goals (70% plus) are scored in a 2 metered squared rectangular area in front of the net. In or near the blue paint of the crease. That is why it’s critical for players to go and stop to these critical scoring areas.
2. Assessment/Survey/Proximity. Elite Players must understand primary scoring areas and how to utilize them efficiently, such as net front, low slot, high slot and point areas. Players must be aware of the limited amount of time and space that is available when they have the puck and an opportunity to score. Assess and understand your location on the ice. This will help with tactics and shot selection when presented a scoring opportunity.
3. Shooters Illusion. Goalies are taught to line up to the true angle of the puck. They move and adjust based on this principle. Shooters need to understand the illusion and difference between what the goalie perception is and what they see with their eyes. What a shooter sees is not an accurate representation of available scoring areas. Successful goal scorers understand the puck’s perspective and true angle.
4. Speed; players must make split second decisions quickly. Shooting the puck quickly and on net is more critical than shot velocity. Shots and dekes need to be made rapidly using the element of surprise. The less time a goaltender has to adjust and to be set, the better!
5. Release. Quick release is everything if you wish to score goals. The quickness of your shot as well as accuracy (location) is more important than how hard your shot is! The quicker the puck is off your stick increases scoring opportunity.
6. Understand the Enemy. Study and understand your opposition. Modern goalies are taught a very specific style that optimizes puck angles, depth, and movement within the crease area, virtually eliminating the bottom part of the net with their pads. They take away prime scoring areas with proper positional play. Understanding this principle is vital for success. Assess your opposition in game and during warm-up. Is he aggressive? Does he move well? What is his rebound control like? This will give you a better understanding of the goaltenders habits and tendencies.
7. Strategic Shot Location. Choose scoring locations for success. Most goalies are hybrid butterfly style tenders. Look to shoot 12 to 14 inches up to either post (just over the pads & under the glove and blocker), high to the glove and blocker or just above the shoulders when the tender in down. Five hole is a great choice prior to the goalie going down or when forcing quick post to post movement. Accuracy and quick release is key when going to this location.
8. Force the Goalie to Move. Shooters must force goalies to move out and react side to side. Force them to make angle changes. This can be accomplished by
- Pulling/pushing puck out prior to release when shooting (rapid angle changes with the puck)
- Manipulating approach angles and forcing goalies to move out of their set stance.
- Deception and non-telegraphing of your scoring strategy.
- Strategic roofing of the puck top shelf, or elevating the puck just over the pads every time, when making moves and deking. Modern goalies are trained to take away essential scoring areas, including the bottom of the net.
- Always stop in front of the net and hunt the rebounds. (Go to the paint)
9. Rebounds, Rebounds, Rebounds (AKA secondary chances). The vast majority of goals in today’s NHL and modern day hockey are not first shot goals. In fact most proficient goaltenders stop over 90 percent of first shot opportunities. This is important information for goal scorers. Players must learn to FOLLOW and TRACK the puck to the net and take advantage of the secondary scoring chances. Many quality scoring chances and goals happen off the second, third and fourth opportunities from the initial shot. Stop in front every time with your stick ready and hunt the puck to the whistle!
10. Tracking and smart positioning. A critical skill that players can improve on immediately is to visually TRACK the puck off your stick or your fellow players stick. This allows you to have real time information that can help you react and anticipate where the puck is, and where it ends up. Players must drive the net with speed and vision to take advantage of the secondary scoring chances.If you want to score you must learn to find the quiet ice. MAKE YOURSELF AVAILABLE. This means putting yourself in an area to receive the puck. Standing right beside the opposition/defencemen is not going to help your chances of scoring. PRESENT YOUR STICK on the ice READY TO SHOOT. Always stop in front of the net, not on top of the goalie but a stick length away to allow yourself secondary opportunities to score.
Scoring success takes strategic planning and practice. Players need to develop proper shooting techniques utilizing scoring tactics, strategy, quick release and accuracy in mind. Players must shoot the puck more from multiple angles to generate scoring chances. Elite players practice their scoring skills daily. Investing your time into scoring development with pay off exponentially. You will be filling the net like Crosby, Draisaitl and McDavid in no time.
Keep learning and elevating and sniping.