Every Shot Must Have Purpose

Over the last 18 months I have observed at least 100 practices and games combined. One thing I have noticed is the amount shot attempts that miss the net! In warm up the idea is to let the goaltender get the feel of the puck and be able to visually focus on the puck. What I have observed is players shooting pucks at top speed either trying to find corners, hit the glass, or rip it through goaltenders. For years the hockey community has accepted this practice as normal. Skaters believe that the warm up is for them and not the most important player(s) on their team. Minor hockey players watch their favorite NHL team warm up and as they skate around in circles they shoot the puck often missing the net or hitting the glass. I can see how this looks and sounds cool to young players, but the example they set is definitely not cool, in fact it is pointless.

In practice players constantly are let off the hook by unobservant Coaches when pucks are shot without a purpose. This again goes back to premise that practices have little or no transference to game like conditions. To score a goal or to create scoring chances requires a process.

Goaltenders are bigger, more athletic, and wear equipment that reduces net space. Therefore when a player gets the opportunity to shoot the puck it must be shot with a purpose. An important factor to keep in mind is where we look and why? If a player is 5 foot 8 inches the eyes are focused in at about 5 foot 6 inches so the area we see is can be larger than what is really there. In golf, players line up putts by getting as close to ground level as possible to read the green correctly to give them the best chance of making the putt. In hockey, like golf, the puck starts at ground zero. If a shooter had the opportunity to get behind his shot and view the goaltender set up like a putt, the areas to score would look much different. I believe that the gifted goal scorers have this ability to see what the puck would see. Players need to be coached at a very young age to see how the game is seen at ice level. This is a motor skill. A motor skill of this kind can be learned if Coaches are willing to break away from the text book learning and think outside of the box. Players have a big opportunity to learn this in between shifts. During a minor hockey game players are on the bench for 86% of the game. During this recovery, refocus, and ready time players have the best view possible. They are almost at ice level! I will bet you that less than 1% of the players take advantage of this opportunity. Goaltenders really do have the advantage here because Coaches have viewed the time in between shifts as unimportant. Educating players never stops!

So, the next time a puck is shot and misses the net and some leather lung yells out “hit the net “ask yourself the question why did they miss.

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