Do you want to score more goals in your ice hockey matches? Scoring is the whole point of the game, after all. And there’s nothing quite like the feeling of helping your team achieve victory by scoring a goal – or a few.
The best way to score more goals is to emulate the pros. There are a few key skills all the highest-scoring professional players have in common. By practicing these skills, you’ll improve your chances of scoring.
To score more points, you should practice the following five skills.
- Using snapshots and backhand shots
- Aiming low when shooting
- Shooting on the goal in stride
- Observing the goalie’s strengths and weaknesses
- Increasing your shots on the goal
Snapshots and Backhand Shots
Getting better at snapshots and backhand shots is a great way to improve your chances of scoring. Goalies spend a lot of time watching the other players and learn to identify when shots are coming and where they’re aimed. Snapshots and backhand shots remove much of that predictability goalies rely on.
Snapshots are difficult for goalies to react to because they involve little or no wind-up. There’s less of a tell that you’re about to shoot the puck. While snapshots don’t have as much power as slapshots do, all the power of a slapshot doesn’t mean much if the goalie knows it’s coming.
Flashy goals are nice – if you can make them. But, what’s even nicer is making more goals consistently. Sometimes, you have to be sneaky with your shots if you want to score.
Backhand shots are similarly good at taking goalies by surprise. It’s hard to tell exactly where a puck shot backhand is going to end up. This leaves the goalie guessing where they should be defending even if they know the shot is coming.
Aim Low When Shooting
This one might not sound like that big of a deal. However, aiming low can make your shots harder for the goalie to block. If they aren’t prepared, they may not be able to drop fast enough to block, which is why it pairs well with sneaky shots like snapshots and the next tip (shooting in stride).
You may also be able to score in the 5-hole if you get close enough and they can’t close their legs in time. Beyond the point you’ll score, this is a great way to get under the goalie’s skin, which can cause them to let more goals through.
It’s also worth noting that many goalies like to make saves with their gloves. It’s the goalie’s version of a flashy goal. They may be looking for opportunities to make these saves, paying less attention to the lower half of the net. And denying them from getting glove saves can get in their head.
Shoot on the Goal in Stride
Something many players don’t notice – but goalies do – is that they stop skating to take shots on the goal or even to pass. This makes your intentions obvious. It’s like you’re telling the goalie that they should prepare to block an incoming shot.
Shooting in stride masks your intention and can help to catch the goalie and other defenders off guard. Basically, it just involves continuing to skate when you shoot. It’s another way to improve your chances of scoring by being sneaky.
This also works well in conjunction with snapshots. By combining the two, the goalie will have nearly no indication that you’re about to take a shot. The only things left to give it away are your eyes, so avoid staring at where you plan to shoot too much.
Observe the Goalie’s Strengths and Weaknesses
Goalies don’t just sit around the whole time they aren’t actively blocking shots. They’re observing the other players; picking out their strengths, weaknesses, and ticks. This is something you can do to the goalie in return.
During warm-up sessions, pay attention to what the goalie struggles to block and the saves they seem most comfortable with. You can even have someone watch the goalie for you and tell you what they saw after the warm-up is complete. If using someone else, they can also take notes during the game.
Once you know the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing goalie, you can change up your shots on the goal accordingly. If you see that the bottom left is their weak point, target it.
Increase Shots on the Goal and Rebounds
The more frequently you shoot on the goal, the more chances you have to score. This doesn’t mean that you should take unnecessary shots that have no chance of scoring. But, it means you shouldn’t be afraid to shoot when you have a good opportunity.
Most of these shots on the goal won’t result in you scoring. But, they could help to set one of your teammates up to score off the rebound. You just need to make sure that when you shoot, you have teammates close enough to take advantage of the chaos at the goal.
Of course, you should also be playing for rebounds yourself when your teammates shoot. Pick up the pieces of your teammates’ failed shots on the goal and turn them into points for yourself.
If you’re looking to increase the number of points you score on the ice, practicing these five skills could be just what you need. These are all skills used by the pros, and last time we checked, they’re pretty good at hockey.
Do you need somewhere to hone your skills? Sign up for Shinny USA today! We get together most mornings at a number of rinks around the greater Philadelphia area to play recreational games.