Backhand shots are particularly effective for two main reasons.
- Backhands are deceptive: Since the player is shooting the puck from the backhand side of the blade (hence the name 😉), it’s difficult for goalies to read and anticipate where the puck is headed as it’s released.
- Backhand shots are quick: Unlike slapshots, backhands require little time and space to shoot. Plus, backhands can be elevated quickly with minimal effort and in tight spaces, which makes them particularly dangerous in-tight around the net including rebounds.
Not only is it important to have a strong backhand shot simply for versatility’s sake (to round out your offensive arsenal), but smart defenseman will purposefully push their opponent to their backhand side, where players are often much less effective with the puck.
*Notice the NHL highlights in our Backhand YouTube video above, where the NHL defenseman are repeatedly pushing the opposition to their backhand side
Coach Matt identifies two kinds of backhand shots:
Tips for how to take a backhand shot
Body position: Lead with your inside shoulder, hip, and foot i.e. right shoulder, hip, and foot for right-handed shooters, left for left-handed shooters.
Hand position: Your hands should be a normal distance apart or a little wide, allowing your bottom hand to slide down the shaft for some extra leverage, especially in tight.
Weight transfer: It’s important to shift your weight from your back foot to your front foot, i.e. left-to-right foot for right-handed shooters, right-to-left for left-handed shooters. Utilize your strong hockey hips and thighs to drive through the puck and into the net!
*Fine detail tip: have your inside foot (right for right-handed shooters, left for left-handed shooters) turned slightly open to maximize your hip rotation and follow through.
- “Crosby” snapshot backhand: the puck starts on the heel of the blade and is released off the heel or middle of the blade. And the puck can be in the middle of the shooter’s feet or even towards their front foot, i.e. right foot for a right-handed shooter and left foot for a left-handed shooter.
- “Datsyuk” wrist shot backhand: the puck starts on the heel of the blade and is released off the middle or towards the toe of the blade. The puck can start in the middle of the shooter’s feet or even towards the back foot, i.e. left foot for a right-handed shooter and right foot for a left-handed shooter.
- “Crosby” snapshot backhand: the puck is in front of and off the shooter’s blade. Like a forehand snapshot, the shooter strikes the puck and follows through towards the net with a short quick snap.
- “Datsyuk” wrist shot backhand: like a forehand wrist shot, the puck remains on the shooter’s blade the entire time before releasing the puck and following all the way through towards the net.
*For both the “Crosby” and “Datsyuk”, follow through higher or lower with your blade to adjust the height of your shot accordingly.
Drills to improve your backhand shot
- Practice transferring your weight from your back to your front foot, without a puck.
- Practice spinning the puck on the backhand side of your blade. Start with the puck on your heel and spin the puck up the blade and bring it back with your forehand.
- Practice stationary backhand shots with your hips closed to the net, i.e. hips facing towards the left of the net for a right-handed shooter, right of the net for a left-handed shooter.
- “Crosby” snapshot backhand: position the puck between your feet or towards your front foot, start with your blade behind the puck and strike through with a short and strong follow-through, snapping your wrists.
- “Datsyuk” wrist shot backhand: position the puck between your feet or towards your back foot and on the heel of your blade, transfer your weight to your front through, and follow-through and snap your wrist as you release puck from the middle or toe of your blade.
- Practice stationary backhand shot with your hips square to the net, i.e. facing the net. Start with the puck just in front of your toes to your backhand side, i.e. left side for a right-handed shooter, right side for a left-handed shooter. Practice generating power and accuracy using just your wrists and forearms.
- Practice elevating the puck in tight. Face the net, start with the puck on your forehand and quickly pull it to your backhand trying to drive the puck up and under the crossbar, over the pads and gloves on a goaltender.
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And check out the HPC X1X hockey stick, used by coach Matt in the video.