With the speed of today’s hockey game constantly increasing, the wrist shot is arguably the most effective shot in hockey because of the quick release and accuracy you get. For any player, this is the first shot you should master as the technique also leads into an effective snap-shot. Although you don’t get the same power out of a slap shot, it is easier to control and just as easy to score with the proper technique and timing.
If you’re serious about going bar down, the wrist shot will be an essential weapon in your scoring arsenal. Almost 50% of the goals in the NHL are scored via the wrist shot, a much higher percentage than any other shot. The reason for this is simple, the wrist shot is deceptive, quick, and accurate making it your go to weapon when you looking to snipe.
Phil Kessel is not necessarily my favorite player but you can’t argue the effectiveness of his wrist shot and he has one of the quickest releases in the game. He’s not the fastest or most skilled player in the game, but he has one of the most deceptive wrist shots in the game today which is why you see him in the goal scoring race year after year. Just watch the youtube video below to get a feel for how impactful a good wrist shot can be, even in NHL.
Keys to the Wrist Shot
Proper Stance – No matter what shot you are taking, you are not going to get the most out of your shot if your shooting stance isn’t correct. This is a vital part of achieving smooth weight transfer from your back foot to your front foot. It also ensures you are not off balance when you are trying to take the shot. For the proper “Hockey Stance”, your feet should be shoulder width apart, with your knees comfortably bent and your upper body at a 45 degree angle to the ice. This allows you to keep your balance and effectively transfer your body weight to the stick for optimal power.
Hand Positioning – Holding your stick with your hands in the correct place goes a long way for your shot, since your stick is designed to flex in a certain way you want to take advantage of this as much as possible. Gone are the days of old where players would merely sweep the puck with little to no weight transfer. You must now use the flex in the stick to get the velocity required to score. Your top hand should grip the stick with the top of your stick directly in your palm (the “top” is the side of the stick at the top with the toe of the blade pointing upwards) at the very end of the stick. The bottom hand should be at least a elbow length away from your top hand (the length of your elbow to hand), if not lower. This will give you better accuracy and power than if you were to hold your bottom hand close to your top hand. You need to also ensure your gloves aren’t too stiff and allow you good mobility, make sure to check out our best hockey gloves review for some suggestions.
Proper Stick – A very important part of an effective wrist shit is the flex of the stick you are using. If you’re a smaller player using a really stiff stick, it is going to be hard to generate power since you won’t be able to flex the stick as much, limiting the impact of the weight transfer. Too much flex on the other hand can produce an ineffective shot, as your stick will start to snap back before you are ready to release the puck, leading to soft and inaccurate shots. You can also break a lot of sticks this way which isn’t any good either, but at least your teammates will think you are pretty powerful. For more information on choosing the correct stick and flex, check out our best hockey sticks review for guidance and sizing information.
Shooting Technique – When taking a wrist shot, you can think of it as sweeping the puck towards the net by using the whip in your stick. You need to keep the puck in the middle of your blade, pull it back so it is at least even with your back foot, and then sweep it towards the net while transferring your weight from the back foot to the front. While doing this, the weight transfer causes your stick to flex before releasing the puck, giving your shot power. The puck should roll from the middle of your stick off the toe, and you should finish the shot with your front foot facing the net and the toe of your stick pointing to where you are aiming. Depending on the type of curve you have, finishing the shot on your toe will either quickly elevate the puck (using popular ‘Crosby’ style curves) or fire low hard shots (Using a ‘Duchene’ style curve).
As you get comfortable with the wrist shot, you can shorten the “wind-up” process of moving the stick and puck to your back foot to achieve a quicker release. It is also more accurate to start the puck on the heel of the blade, as it will achieve a higher spin rate making the shot more accurate. There is less blade to control the puck when shooting off the heel, so it should be practiced when shooting from the middle of the blade is perfected.
There is a solid instructional video below that visually goes through all the details of taking a wrist shot. For players of any skill level, this is a shot that should be practiced constantly as it will improve all aspects of your game from passing, snap shots, and saucer passes.
If you can think of any good tips or references for how to take a wrist shot, please leave a comment or send us an email! We at Going Bar Down would love to hear from you.