It happens in every girls’ hockey game I watch…
a player gets the puck in the slot with a clear lane to the net,
and they end up passing it to a player in a worse scoring position or they take too long to make a decision and turnover the puck.
Girls’ hockey players are guilty of waiting for the perfect shot. Instead of getting pucks and bodies to net, and finding ways to score ‘greasy’ goals, they squander great scoring chances.
I’m sure you’ve seen it before too.
When you watch a boys’ hockey game, every time a player gets the puck in the offensive zone, he has a “shoot first” mentality.
In a girls’ hockey game, most players have a “pass first mentality” when they enter the attack zone. And if they do decide to pull the trigger, it’s usually after having the puck on their stick for a little too long, giving the opposition time to block the shot or make the save.
Waiting for the perfect shot means that you’ll be waiting a long time. Quick release shooting is the key to scoring goals in girls’ hockey. One of the biggest keys to getting your shot off quickly is having your stick and body in the right position to release the puck as soon as it arrives.
Here are 2 keys to make sure you get your shot off faster in your next game:
Find Open Space In The Slot
I always joke with my players that there seems to be a gravitational pull towards their opponents in the slot. Instead of moving their feet and getting in an open space, players tend to stand right next to their opponent when in the prime scoring area. It doesn’t make any sense at all, and yet I see it happen all the time. Simple rule: if you’re standing next to an opponent, you’re not open. Players have to work hard in the scoring area to get their body and stick free from their opponent, so that when the puck arrives, they have a bit of time and space to release the puck.
Put Your Stick On The Ice (Properly)
Picture this – a player skates hard into the attack zone and is in the perfect position to get a shot on net right in the slot. She gets a hard pass from her teammates – and the puck goes right by her because her stick is 6 inches off the ice.
This drives me nuts as a coach.
First things first – if you want to score more goals, ALWAYS have your stick on the ice in the scoring area. When you skate around with your stick in the air, you’re doing the defender’s job for them. Not only do you need to have your stick on the ice, but you need to “show your blade” to your teammate. This is a pretty simple concept – in order for a teammate to be able to deliver a great pass that you can put on net quickly, you need to give her the best target possible. So you want to open up your blade so that it faces the path of the puck. This gives a great target and allows you to get your stick on the puck quickly.
Once you’ve mastered “showing the blade”, you want to work on loading the stick before the puck arrives. Remember – your stick has a flex for a reason…so you can use it. The best way to get your shot off quickly in the slot is to have your stick pre-loaded. You want to push into your bottom hand (which you’ve slid down the stick a bit) so that you are strong on your stick and ready to fire the puck immediately when it comes. This way you lessen the chance of your stick being lifted and increase your chance of getting a hard quick shot away before the goalie is ready to react.
The ability to score goals is a gift in girls’ hockey. So stop waiting for the perfect shot and gets hard shots on the net quickly.
Kim McCullough, MSc, YCS
Director & Founder, Total Female Hockey