For a great slapshot, a full hard slapshot, you have to follow some simple steps and try, try, try until you develop an accurate, hard, fast slapshot.
Why can some slapshots break the glass, but others ricochet off an ankle without pain?
Why do some slap shots rip through the mesh of the net, yet some hit the audience?
Why will some slap-shots score stick-side top corner, when others fizzle along the ice?
For a good slapshot, body position, speed of travel with the puck, direction of body travel, hand positions, back-swing or wind-up, forward swing, follow through of the stick and hands, follow through of the body, hand-eye coordination, and stick flex are all important. That’s a lot to consider when you take a slapshot.
Should you be performing a checklist of all of the slapshot fundamentals, and maybe calculating some physics too, while you let a slapshot go? No. It should all come quickly and naturally to you, and it will with the right amount of practice. Let’s make sure you practice the hard slapshot correctly.
Don’t expect your slapshot to have a lot of speed, accuracy, or force when you start trying ice hockey’s hardest shot, and don’t expect it to raise off the ice. Focus on the mechanics of the slap shot first.
Speed of Slapshot
Slow and controlled because you think you have a lot of time, or think you need to take your time, only gives a goalie plenty of time to prepare. Make both the decision, the back-swing, and the forward swing of the slapper happen fast because speed of the swing can catch goalies unprepared, and also because the speed of a slapshot swing transfers into speed of the puck. Fast slapshot speed makes a hard slapshot.
A hard slapshot’s power will come from the distance traveled by the pendulum swing of your hockey stick, the force and forward motion leading up to it, the speed of your swing, the connection of the hockey stick blade with the puck, and the location of the puck as the blade strikes it.
You don’t want your arm to be loose or bend a lot on impact with the puck. That would absorb the impact and absorption means reduced force or power. For a hard slapshot, you’ll want to keep a stiff lower arm in the downswing because you’re going to slap the ice a bit before the puck. This part of the slapshot puts a lot of stress on your arm and on your hockey stick. The stress on the hockey stick will cause the hockey stick shaft to flex a bit to spring load your slapshot.
The farther your hockey stick travels (inside of the the optimal distance) before you slap the puck, the more time you have for your swing to gather speed before impact. That’s why a full swing is necessary. An over-swing (outside of the the optimal distance) can actually slow down your swing and adversely affect your slapshot, as can a partial swing.
Slapshot Wind Up
Optimally, you need a good fast swing for a hard slapshot. Pull your hockey stick back and up to almost perpendicular with the ice, so you can swing from as far up as possible without overdoing it and throwing yourself off balance. Your bottom hand should come up as high as its shoulder, or a bit above. This is the wind up for a full slapshot. If you swing from any farther back or higher up, it will actually slow down your shot because it is unnatural for an arm/shoulder to swing fast from such an over extension. A hyper extended wind-up requires your hand to push out away from your body before it begins the ability to swing downward with force and speed.
If you’re moving forward with the puck, or moving forward into a still or passed puck, you add forward motion (momentum) to the force behind your slap shot, so moving into a slapshot should produce a harder shot than standing still slapshots.
Parts of the blade of your stick will not lend themselves well to delivering the puck to its destination as fast and hard as possible. The tip of the blade will flex a lot on impact, weakening the shot and causing the puck to go in an undesired direction. The heel of the blade will make a nice stiff connection with the puck, but is not an ideal contact to raise the puck, or to direct it best toward your target. The middle of the blade of your hockey stick is the sweet spot where you’ll have the right amount of flex for whip, aim, height control, and force.
Slapshot Follow Through
If you take a slapshot and stop your swing where or near where it meets the puck, you will lose power and accuracy. Follow through with your arms and stick so that the forward swing propels your body toward the target and the blade of your stick ends up pointing at the target with a closed face (blade curved down to the ice).
If you take a slapshot while leaning backward, standing straight up, or off balance you’ll not throw your weight into the puck and therefor sacrifice power.
If you are standing still when you shoot, you’ll have more time to aim, but will lack forward body momentum to make your hardest slapshot.
Body Position for a Hard Slapshot
The positioning of your lower hand on your hockey stick is a key to a hard slapshot so you should position that hand more than half way down the shaft of your hockey stick. Your top hand should stay at the very top of your stick.
A puck will fly faster and with greater accuracy if the body is slightly sideways to the target when you take a slapshot. This is difficult in the moving slapshot because it's hard to move on ice sideways. So, it will be best to skate up to the puck on an angle before releasing the slapshot. If it's a standing slapshot, this is not a problem, you'll already be standing slightly sideways to the target. If you are skating with the puck, and the puck is slightly beside and ahead of your lower hand, without stopping, execute your wind up while facing the target realizing this will not be your hardest slapshot.
Glance at the puck to line it up. Your torso will slightly twist at the hips, and your upper hand's shoulder will slightly move forward and down toward the puck as you raise your lower hand up to make your stick roughly parallel to the ice. At this point in the slap shot motion, your eyes should be on the target. As you whip your stick down, transfer your weight onto the skate on the side of your upper hand (front foot closest to the net or target), throwing your weight into the shot toward the target. A slight flick of the wrists will raise the puck as the closed blade opens on the puck and then closes again in the follow through.
Hockey Stick Position in a Slapshot
Your hockey stick blade should be closed at its highest point, (curve facing down at the ice), if you want to raise the puck. Starting with a blade parallel to the ice requires wrists to twist and enables them to twist more in the follow through of the slapshot, thus raising the puck.
At its highest point, the toe of the blade should be pointing up to the sky if you want a relatively flat shot. A flat blade slapping the puck will not throw, flick, raise the puck thus keeping the shot lower. So, pointing the toe of the blade up to the sky disables much wrist flick that is required to raise the puck.
While slightly crouched at the hips, and with your weight on, and moving beyond your front skate, your back foot will come up off the ice because your weight has thrusted forward violently. Prepare yourself for balance so you don't fall.
The blade of your hockey stick will slap the ice an inch or up to 10 inches before the puck (depending on shooter's strength) and will slightly cup the puck in its curve briefly before either a flat follow through that will keep the puck low, or a bit of a wrist flick that will raise the puck. This cupping is made possible by your forward lean and the distance before the puck where contact is made by the stick on the ice. A stiff lower arm enables you to push through that slap on the ice before the puck, flexing the shaft of your hockey stick, whipping the puck in the desired direction.
Finish on your front skate, leaning over your front knee, looking at the target with your hockey stick blade pointing at the target.
If on impact, only the bottom line of the blade impacts the puck, the chopping motion won't produce much of a slapshot because most of the forceful part of the blade will slip right under the puck rather than push it with more force. This makes a nice slice shot with a tennis ball, although uncontrollable, but won't do much with a puck.
If the puck is too far away, you’ll not get as much power on it because you'll have to reach for it and decrease your leverage. If the puck is too close to you, you'll pull your stick in and the shot will come off of the toe and be weak.