Tips on scoring goals
Here’s a subject matter near and dear to every player who has EVER laced up the skates for competitive play – even some netminders:
More specifically, how to SCORE GOALS more consistently.
So please enjoy and UTILIZE the following tips and advice gleaned from nearly a half century of playing against and with, as well as coaching and observing, some of the most talented youngsters in the world.
• Stick type, length, curve and tape must be cared for and attended to meticulously, and daily. If the “feel” for the stick is lost based upon a growth spurt or a simple splinter in wood/composite – REPLACE IT.
• Stick glued to the surface, most especially in slot and kill-zones, is a must.
• Strong forearms, wrists, fingers and legs must be honed and pushed to maximum capacity predicated upon your size and weight.
• Quickness of release in tandem with accuracy is CRITICAL (not always the hardest and heaviest cannonading drive – thanks’ Foster Hewitt and Dick Cole. Witness: Mr. Wayne Gretzky).
• I contend that missing-the-cage with a shot unencumbered is selfish, lazy and tantamount to establishing a break-out pass for your opponent. Make it a RARE occurrence,
• Practicing shooting while being hooked, hacked and whacked is great methodology for simulating live-game action and will lead to big goals for you/us.
• Literally practice picking/ripping pucks “out-of-the-air” with stick below shoulders/crossbar is another way to create a big-game (little room/no time) environment in practice.
• Shooting EARLY, as in initial few seconds of a contest, even if not from a perfect angle, can be a terrific weapon. A rebound marker on the first shift due to a netminder being “cold” can be tremendously invigorating and has the potential to motivate a club for an entire contest. REBOUNDS ARE “UNSELFISH PASSES IN DISGUISE!”
• Feet moving (the faster the better) when shooting equates to goalie moving and that means he/she becomes far more vulnerable.
• A wicked backhand shot is attainable, so PRACTICE developing one. It is the most difficult and dangerous shot for a goaltender to track and ultimately stop/control primarily because he/she cannot “read” your body language/eyes.
• Learn to “time” and rip one-timers.
• Wrist shots are far more accurate and less likely to be blocked--ESPECIALLY from the point than slap shots.
• “Look off or away” from your intended target.
• Practice using the defender as a natural screen, shooting between his/her legs or under his/stick extension while at top speed is amazingly effective.
• Shooting back EAST while heading WEST (or vice-versa) can be an awesome scoring weapon.
• Fearless tenacity as it relates to securing ice in front of the opposition’s cage is mandatory. What makes this area so dangerous is the fact that you must keep your stick on the-surface and cannot remove to protect your face/head in most instances or you WILL NOT SCORE. Only the TOUGH and LEADERS survive in this environment.
• Tips, redirects and subtle “off-your-body/skates” shots must be practiced religiously. (Tipping the biscuit through your legs is incredibly powerful--work on it!)
• Work on perfecting at least two breakaway/shootout “go-to” moves. In today’s Youth game with benches being situated on the same-side of the rink: All players are likely to have the opportunity to walk-in alone at some juncture during the season when on-the-fly change errors are made. Defenseman on breakways with longer sticks are tougher for a netminder to stop because the release point varies significantly from the typical shorter-stick forward-shooter.
• If you miss the net in warmups, you’ll miss it during the game. Make EVERY practice shot count, even the one’s taken without a goalie in-place. The rips off the high-glass are ridiculously wasteful. Muscle-memory and psychological discipline begin when you step on surface to get loose. TEAM players aim for a spot in warmups (low) to insure hitting the cage more often in live-game play.
• Never underestimate the power of positive-thinking. Legitimate psychological studies have proven that actually picturing - or seeing in your mind’s eye – the puck entering the net as you shoot it, increases the odds of it going in for you/your team.
True story. Way back when I was a 10th grader at Oak Park High School, I conveniently “forgot” about attending my fifth hour physical education class.
Why? I decided to sneak off-campus and sprint across the street to newly covered (roof recently inserted 18 months prior) Oak Park Ice Arena.
Luckily for me, friends & family, the rink was situated literally 1,000 yards or thereabouts from the High School and about a mile as the crow-flies from my house. Anyway, my friend the arena manager – had alerted me that the ice was “open” (code for unrented) and that a then-current Detroit Red Wing would be skating solo as he rehabilitated a back injury.
Well, I had the nerve to ask if he minded that I join him! He said, “No worries. Come on out.” So the rink manager drove me home for my skates and stick in less than 10 minutes, and the rest is history.
I ended-up challenging him near the end of the hour to “first to both posts and crossbar game from the top-of-the-slot” and yes, I beat him … twice!
Here’s how it ended: He told me “great job kid – I hope you go far in hockey but remember this – hitting the posts and crossbar don’t even count as a shot on net!”
MORAL: Make the goaltender STOP the puck! Rebounds are “unselfish passes-in-disguise...”
Lubanski’s company – Wilderness Xtreme Sports – invents bold new takes on traditional sporting competition. See Paul star on YouTube in WILD GOLF: The Making of Wilderness Golf or visit www.wxsports.net.