Changing the Angle for Higher Percentage Shots - Hockey Skill Breakdown
When a player is preparing to shoot, changing the angle of attack is crucial. It could easily be the difference between a puck being blocked by a defender or stopped by a goaltender, and a goal. Even the slightest of angle changes can throw off a goaltender’s ability to track the puck effectively and improve a player’s chances of finding the back of the net.
Deception, drag, or body position manipulation are effective means of changing the attack angle, but pulling or pushing the puck into a quick release shooting position is your best bet for making this tactic work for you.
This technique is used by many of the NHL’s top youngsters, and their ability to perform it effectively makes them elite shooters. But, mastering a skill of this nature takes time and repetition, and it certainly isn’t as easy as Toronto Maple Leafs sniper Auston Matthews makes it seem.
When teaching this technique to your players, it’s important to break down the precise elements that go into changing the shot angle and use a progressive system to work on each step.
5 key points for changing the shooting angle are:
- Eliminate the spin on the puck by giving it a little tap with a flat blade to calm it down.
- Small adjustments are often better than large ones. The goaltender won’t have as much time to track the new trajectory of the shot effectively.
- Move the puck into a position of balance and maximum power.
- Players should be aware of BOTH the net position and their shot lane. It’s not uncommon for players to focus on the net or their shot lane alone, often resulting in either a blocked shot or an easy save. Total situational awareness is key in making the most out of a shot attempt.
- Add deception into the mix. Fakes using body movement and blade manipulation are key in creating open space and quickly changing the shot angle.
While some of the goals in the video clips may look rather simple, they practice the 5 techniques to perfection. These players are constantly honing their shooting ability and strive to improve that all-important aspect of their game.
Below, I’ve outlined a 5 drill progression that you can use to help your players change their shot angle while keeping opposing defenders on their toes at all times. All drills can be found in the CoachThem Marketplace so you can easily add them to your personal playbook!
1. Changing the Angle - Full Ice Warm Up
- 3 tires will be set up on each side of the ice
- Players will skate towards the tire and use different technique of changing the angle of the shot:
- Fake and Push
- Fake and BH (backhand) drag
2. Changing the Angle - Cross Ice Passing
- Getting the players comfortable by shooting the puck (warm-up)
- Players leave with the puck and will skate towards the cone
- At the cone, load the puck in a shooting position
- While the player is loading the puck, they will change the angle and pass to their partner on the other half of the ice
3. Changing the Angle - Push Pull Shooting
Players at each net with a cone, sticks or anything to allowed players to change the angle and a pile of pucks.
- PULL - Puck starts on far side of tire, pull puck in toward inside leg, rotate torso to have hands in front of body and chest square to target. Can challenge players to keep bottom hand loose to increase reach while maintaining body position.
- PUSH - Player starts with the same pull as before, then stop the puck on the forehand by popping top hand out. Then push the back back to the far side to release. Weight should load up on the outside leg as the puck is pulled in, and then to the inside leg as the puck is pushed out.
- EBERLE - Perform a FH (forehand) fake my pushing the puck to the far side of tire, and then pulling back on the BH back to the near side of tire for release.
4. Changing the Angle - Cross Ice 3 vs 2
- The coach uses a thick marker to draw a line from the middle of the end boards to the blue line as shown in the illustration.
- The game is played 3 vs. 3, but the last defending player cannot cross the half-way line.
- This leaves the attacking team with a 3v2 situation.
- When the defensive team retrieve the puck, they can attack or make a pass to their 3rd teammate
5. Changing the Angle - Belly Out Shooting
- Pucks and team split in half in opposite corners, both sides go at the same time
- Stay on your half of the ice until past the red line
- Whistle starts the drill (3 players go from each corner at a time)
- Each player leaves without a puck, belly out and gets a pass from next player in line
- X1 skates down and takes shot from near lane - X2 skates down and takes shot from the middle lane - X3 skates down and takes shot from the far lane
- Change the angle for every shot before the cone, push or pull
Blog by CoachThem Contributor, Mitch Giguere
Mitch Giguere, ChPC, is the father of four children and a passionate hockey coach, currently working as an Assistant Coach for the Concordia Stingers (USports) and as the video coach for the Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (KHL). Previously, he worked with the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg, was the video coach for the Winnipeg Ice (WHL). Mitch has his High Performance 2 from Hockey Canada and has an Advanced Coaching Diploma (NCCP4) from the Canadian Sports Institute. You can follow his popular video breakdown on Twitter @Coach_Mitch85 and follow his Facebook Page Behind The Bench for more great hockey content.