During the course of a hockey practice, it is not uncommon for players to get bored and become sluggish, especially at young ages while working on monotonous skills like technical skating. Adding hockey shooting drills into the mix is a great way to liven up your practice and keep your players motivated and up beat. High tempo shooting drills can also help spark some competition and mentally rejuvenate your players during longer practices.
When working with hockey shooting drills, I try to implement a few key points that help my players to get the most benefit possible:
- Insist that players keep their feet moving while shooting, or shoot in stride. Many players slow down and glide just before shooting, not only does this announce to the goalie that a shot is coming, but it also gives the backchecker a chance to get a stick on the shooter and mess up the shot. Shooting in stride is a great habit to get into!
- Follow up on rebounds. Coach your players to take their shot, then drive home any rebound. Again, this develops a good habit that will be useful in games!
- Add a shot at the end of a skating drill. Adding a shot at the end of a skating drill can completely change the drill in the mind of a youngster, motivating him or her to practice all kinds of skills he or she doesn't really like. I use this a lot when working on backward skating with the really young kids.
- Specify what types of shots to use. It is tempting for players to walk the puck all the way in and deke. There is a time and a place for dekes, but most shots in games will not be dekes. Sometimes its helpful to designate what type of shot you'd like your players to focus on, and where you'd like to see the shot come from. This will ensure that players are adequately developing a wide range of skills around the net.
As you progress through the season, you'll get a good feel for your team, and you'll be able to recognize when they need some good hockey shooting drills to get them revved back up again. Give these easy pointers a try and see how it goes in your next practice!