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Unless you’re Wayne Gretzky or Mark Messier, scoring a goal in hockey is not easy—and even those guys had to work at it constantly. With today’s goalies being more athletic, and wearing larger equipment, than in the past, shooters have to squeeze the puck through smaller gaps—which are likely to close faster than ever before. But don’t let that challenge put your scoring hopes on ice. Instead, go on the offensive with these three game-tested tips to help you score more goals, more often.
Change Your Angle
Good goal scorers don’t just shoot, they think about how a goaltender approaches a save. A goalie bases his position in the net on where the puck is on your stick. Then they move toward or beyond the edge of the crease, which cuts down your angle by making the goalie appear bigger in the net.
Since the puck is usually three to four feet away from your body as you shoot, if you can change puck’s position by quickly moving it towards your body, you can catch the goalie off-guard and force him to adjust his position by four to five feet in a matter of a second. You can do this by "toe-dragging" the puck—using the tip of your blade to pull it backward and closer to your body as you shoot. Or you can push the puck out wide to your forehand, then shoot against the grain so that the goalie has to move against his own momentum. (Improve your stick handling with these three drills.)
Alter Your Timing
Good goaltending depends on angles and timing. Goalies aim to be in position to make the least possible amount of net visible to the shooter at the moment he takes a shot on goal. Since most players follow the same movement pattern every time they shoot, goalies can often gauge precisely when they should cut down their angles. To throw off their timing, use small tricks—such as lifting your foot and putting it back down, making a head or shoulder fake, or performing subtle adjustments with your hands—to change your shot. These little moves can wreck a goalie’s cadence, forcing him to reset or be out of position when you let your shot fly.
Know When to Shoot High or Low
Should you aim low or high? Here’s a simple rule: always shoot low if you are farther away from the goal than the tops of the circles. At that distance, goalies have a much easier time using their hands to catch or trap the puck than they do dropping to their pads to direct a rebound to the corner. A hard low shot creates a better scoring opportunity for you and your teammates on secondary efforts, which is how the majority of goals are scored.
If you’ve skated past the tops of the circles and are closer to the goal, shoot high. Goaltenders play butterfly or paddle down styles to take away the lower portion of the net, so by shooting high you are more likely to find an open seam. If you have a quick, accurate shot and can lift the puck to one of the top corners, there’s not much a goalie can do–except watch the red light spin.
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