Want to learn how to take a wrist shot like an NHL sniper?! If so, you’re in the right place!
Thankfully, Matt Schwartz not only co-founded the Hockey Players Club but also Quest Hockey, where he works on the ice daily with players in Pittsburgh, PA. And he’s here to share with us tips and drills on how to take a wrist shot…and how to develop a deadly wrister at that!
A good wrist shot is accurate, quick, and if time allows, powerful. And although the wrist shot is typically the first shot a player learns when they begin playing hockey, loads of practice with attention to proper technique is critical to developing a lethal wrist shot!
But the hard work is well worth it as few things are as satisfying as a wicked bardown wrist shot, like this beauty from Canucks’ forward Brock Boeser against Semyon Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche:
And since they don’t require the time of a long wind up like a slapshot, the wrist shot is often the shot of choice for perennial NHL goal scorers.
According to NHL shooting coach Tim Turk, 71.8% of Nathan MacKinnon‘s 39 goals in the 2017-18 NHL season were scored on wrist shots. Check out his overtime winning wrist shot against the Florida Panthers from the 2019-20 season:
Tips on how to take a wrist shot
Your hand placement, puck position, weight transfer, and follow-through are critical to a hard accurate wrist shot.
Your top hand (left hand for a right-handed shooter, right hand for a left-handed shooter) should remain high, off the body.
It’s important to not allow your bottom hand to sink down towards the playing surface as it’ll reduce your ability to flex your stick with your bottom hand.
Your bottom hand (right hand for a right-handed shooter, left hand for a left-handed shooter) should be approximately a forearm length down the shaft from your top hand and applying downward pressure into the playing surface to engage the flex of your stick.
The puck should start on the heel to the middle of your stick blade when initiating a wrist shot. And as you follow through, the puck should roll up the blade and off your toe as you snap your wrists over.
As you take a wrist shot, you should transfer your weight from your back to your front foot as you shoot the puck (from your right to your left foot for a right-handed shooter and your left to your right foot for a left-handed shooter).
Lastly, it’s crucial for your hands to follow-through, snapping your wrists and ending with the toe of your blade aimed at your target.
Drills to improve your wrist shot
- Flex/Pop Drill (no puck): Flex your stick and allow it to “pop” or return to a straight position without the puck. Do this 5 to 10 times.
- Flex/Pop Drill (with a puck): Now, with a puck, shoot 5 to 10 pucks with an emphasis on using the “pop” created when flexing your hockey stick.
- Barrel of the Gun Drill: To reinforce proper follow-through, take a wrist shot and point at your target. Keep your stick pointed at the target for one to two seconds after shooting the puck and remain in that position as your eyes look down the shaft of the stick and blade, i.e., barrel of the gun.
- Three Puck Weight Transfer Drill: Set up two pucks about 12 to 18 inches apart from each other. With the third puck on your backhand and 95% of your weight on your front foot, slide the puck between the two pucks as you transfer your weight from the front foot to the back foot. Now you’re in a great shooting position with 95% of your weight on your back foot. With your head and chest up and eyes fixed on your target, transfer all of your weight back to your front foot as you unleash a deadly wrist shot.
- MacKinnon Wrist Shot Drill: Now, instead of shooting from a closed body position, face the net with your shoulders parallel to the crossbar. Bend your knees and sink your butt down as you “grab ice” or pull the puck behind your body. Keep your top hand out in front of your body to serve as an anchor. Exert force downward with your bottom hand to flex your stick. With 75 to 95% of your weight on the foot nearest the puck, release the flex of your stick and push the puck towards the net. Don’t forget to follow through and point at your target.
*Looking for more power? Use an orange weighted puck to strengthen your wrists and forearms.
If you want more shooting tips, check out our 5 Drills to Improve Your Snapshot.
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