INDIVIDUAL PLAYING SKILLS – SHOOTING
Shooting has its methodical regularities, difficulties and learning how to shoot really well is not easy.
Besides forehand and backhand shots there are also sweeper shots and slap shots. First shooting style we practice is the forehand sweeper shot, because it is very similar to the forehand pass, only the dynamics of movement and the start/end trajectory are different. A player stands in the basic position sideways towards the direction of the shot, the blade is covering the ball behind the body. The trajectory of the stick isn’t completely straight (like during a pass), it is curved and the player hides the ball behind his/her body (when practicing the straight trajectory is not a big concern and could help players to more easily execute the move). The player is looking at the target and shifts the balance (weight) the same way as when passing, differences are in the speed of the execution and the angle of opening the blade in the moment of releasing the ball (in case we are not trying to shoot low).
Shooting requires some strength and very dynamic movement. An important factor is bending the stick against the floor. The ball is dragged by the blade on the floor and at the end of the move it is virtually catapulted using the energy released by quick straightening of the stick. This is the reason why the sticks are flexible and players choose the flex of the stick according to their strength. Shooting without bending the stick is not real shooting (at least it is not as powerful as could be). The same effect is used for a short wrist shot. The duration of the blade contact with the floor is shorter and the body balance transfer is smaller. The wrist shot is very quick, can be surprising for goalkeepers and hard to read. Executing a wrist shot in motion demands precise coordination skill (synchronizing movement of both legs and arms). It is necessary to keep moving, look at the goal cage, aim for free space and shoot the ball without stopping (after the shot the motion should continue towards the goal for a possible rebounce).
A slap shot is usually more powerful than a wrist shot, but it has higher demands on technique and is less accurate. It is often used for shooting straight from the pass. The execution is different. The ball isn’t being dragged, but hit. The hit should be carried out in a ideal posture approximately on the level of the front leg and usually with the middle part of the blade. In contrast to the wrist shot, where the most important thing is the fine work with the wrist, for the slap shot the hands (especially the lower one) hold the stick firmly. When shooting slap shot more time is needed, and due to the back swing the opponent expects the shot. The back swing is executed in the air up to the waist, the arms are holding the stick strongly, but not crampy. Slap shots are very powerful (more strength is put to the shot and bigger bend of the stick is taking place because the blade hits the floor before it hits the ball). More accurate, but less powerful is doing the back swing closer to the floor. It is important to watch the correct technique, accuracy is sometimes more important than the power. It is also important to watch the back swing and possible dangerous after swing following the release of the slap shot. Primarily we teach players sweeper shots.
Backhand shots aren’t used so often as forehand shots, but they are usually surprising and effective on short distance. There are also drag and hit executions. Backhand sweeper shots are used only on very short distances, because they are very weak. Backhand shots using hits (knocker, crasher) are more powerful, but at the same time very inaccurate.
The most difficult shooting style is when a player hits the ball straight from the pass in the air. Can be forehand or backhand, but never higher than the knees (respecting the game rules).
To improve the success rate of shooting a player can screen the goalkeeper in the goal crease, making the clear view of the goalie more difficult. In some situations he can also try to tip in the ball and change its direction. For a goalkeeper it is extremly difficult to react to this deflected shots. The second thing is hitting the rebounces. If the ball bounces from the goalkeeper, the player should be prepared to hit the ball.
The last offensive game activity not mentioned until now is the face off. There are two basic strategies. Win the face off behind to the backs or a less common way, to win it forward. The success of winning the face off depends on the player good reaction time, position of the blade and the grip of the stick.
Image and video: Salming Academy