Shot Release (+ Drills)

As a former goalie, the hardest shot to stop was always the one that I didn’t know was coming. The ability to catch a goalie (and the defense) off guard is one that is highly underestimated by players and coaches alike.

Players that have a quick release, can shoot on the move and have the skill level necessary to shoot from any position are players that can score goals. Like any other skill, a quick release is something that must be practiced and developed in players. It requires physical and mental ability – you have to train your brain as much as your hands. I’ve put together some of my favorite shot release drills below in diagrams with brief explanations. Key aspects of a quick release include good weight transfer from the back to the front, strong wrist (esp bottom) and leg strength, keeping the head up, and a good follow through.

In all of the following drills, accuracy and quick release is of the utmost importance.

Drill A: Drag and Shoot: Player takes a puck and toe-drags it to a shooting position, using mostly legs to power the puck to the net. Player should focus on footwork, moving feet and shooting, using legs for power, quick snap to net. Both Sides.

Drill B: Catch and Shoot: Player stands near the dot and catches and releases passes from coach/teammate. Simple catch and release in a scoring area – player should focus on quick catch and quick release. Both Sides.

Drill A: Wide Drive & Shoot: Player comes hard down the wing and fires a quick shot on net at a point designated by a cone. The cone can be moved at every repetition to ensure a variance in the drill – high and low release points. Player should focus on fast acceleration, protecting the puck while driving down the wing and firing a quick release on net. Coaches/Teammates can pressure player down the wing to work on puck protection element. Both sides.

Drill B: Deke & Shoot: Place a cone or object just inside the blue line and two near the top of the circle. Player will drive the cone (d-man) and make a move towards the outside. Player will then drive to the cones (placed closely together) and release a shot in-between them. The set of cones forces a player to shoot when they may not be fully ready and simulates a quick release situation. Player should focus on making a strong outside move and releasing the puck on the move – skating and shooting is critical.

Improving your shot release and your ability to shoot on the move is a critical part of offensive hockey. I’ll make sure and have another post later with more quick release and skating and shooting drills.

Besides these drills on the ice, I firmly believe that the best way to improve your shot is to buy 50 pucks and shoot them in your driveway every day. One of the easiest and most straightforward ways to improve your game, yet many refuse to do it.

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