Shooting: Body Shape

The key element to accuracy and power when shooting

Today, we want to introduce you to the idea of ‘body shape’ and break down what goes into a hard, accurate shot.

Steven Stamkos can shoot the puck

We all know Stamkos has an elite shot, but what are the key elements in there that make him an elite shooter?

(1) Body Shape

Body shape is the position in which a player’s body contorts to when shooting a puck (Note: this also could apply to passing). Without a consistent quality body shape, players will struggle with accuracy and power.

Within body shape, there are two axis - vertical and horizontal. This can be simply thought of as:

  • Keeping chest/shoulders over toes

  • Staying balanced (not leaning over left or right)

Take a look at the tape:

Bonus section - Although the upper body holds the stick, shooting really starts with the lower body. There are two great ways to transfer weight down into the shot.

  1. Stepping strong foot - a player steps forward onto their inside leg. That step/compression drives downforce.

  2. Releasing knee - a player releases their inside knee. That release allows immense downforce by the player falling onto their stick.

Both styles are present in the video above. See if you can pick out each shot’s style.

Jamie Benn

Now that we’ve learned what to look for, let’s see an example of what not to do. Jamie Benn gave us a perfect example:

  • Open shoulders

  • Leaning back

  • Off-balance, leaning left - Naturally will drag the shot left. Mentally he would need to reprogram his brain to aim further right to have a chance at hitting the net.

  • Sweeping motion rather than driving downforce into the ice

Watch warm-ups of any youth or adult league game and you’ll see this poor form as players go around in ovals shooting pucks. Usually, they’re missing the net high and making that *dunk* noise against the glass… Congrats on your new pet peeve.

(2) Downforce

The hallmark of Stamkos’ shot is in how he drives force into the ice and creates flex in the stick. Stamkos is great at transferring his weight into his shot. The torque generated creates his powerful shot.

Here’s an example of Nathan MacKinnon dropping his body weight and pushing into his stick. There is very little sweeping motion like you’ll often see with youth/adult players.

(3) Top Hand

Great shooters position their top hand away from their body and pull back violently. This turns the stick into a lever to create power.

The top hand creates the most important part of the lever, the farthest point from the load (the puck). For the science nerds out there... Work (total power) is the force times the distance, W = Fd

Here are some great video examples. When you’re watching, really focus in on their top hand.

Shoot to score

When teaching shooting to yourself or to others, body shape is a vital concept to understand. By starting with quality body shape (shoulders over toes) you’ll be in a great position to execute a consistent, hard, and accurate shot.

After reading this, you should have some tips for retooling your shot. The next concept in our shooting series takes a look into hand positioning: Shooting: Top & Bottom Hands