Scoring in the shootout requires a combination of skill, preparation and confidence. These 5 tips will help put you on the scoreboard.
By Warren Tabachnick
Scoring in the shootout can be one of the most exhilarating experiences in hockey. Players on both sides are exhausted from three periods of hard-fought hockey, but they know that the game isn’t over yet: the score must be settled in a shootout. It’s a moment where the game is on the line and the pressure is at its highest. For some players it’s a chance to grab the spotlight and showcase their skills, while for others it can be a daunting task.
However, with a bit of preparation and practice you too can score in the shootout. This article offers five tips on how to beat the goalie and put your team in the Win column.
The first step to becoming successful for scoring in a shootout is to have a few go-to moves in your arsenal. It’s essential to practice these moves repeatedly so they become second nature. This way you won’t be overthinking as you skate your way toward the net, and can focus on executing your strategies. You can work on different moves such as a wrist shot, backhand, or deke. The key is to find what works for you and what you’re most comfortable with.
It goes without saying that the goaltender is your biggest obstacle during a shootout. Watching their movements and tendencies can give you an advantage when it’s your turn to shoot. If you notice that the goalie likes to come out of the crease you can use a deke to make them commit, and then shoot the puck into the open net. If the goalie stays deep in their crease, a quick wrister might be your best option. Pay attention to the goalie during the game to see how they react to different situations.
During a shootout, it’s crucial to keep your head up and stay focused. It’s easy to get lost in your thoughts and forget to look up, but this can lead to missed opportunities. Keeping your head up allows you to see where the goalie is positioned and where the open areas of the net are. This way, you can make a quick decision on what move to make and execute it before the goalie has time to react.
Stickhandling is an essential part of any shootout attempt. The ability to control the puck and make quick moves can help you create scoring chances. However, stickhandling with confidence is key. If you’re unsure of yourself, the puck might bounce off your stick and you’ll lose the opportunity to score and close out the game. Work on your stickhandling and don’t be afraid to try different moves during the game.
5 Tips for Scoring in the Shootout
Perhaps the most frequently employed technique in a shootout is the deke. This is used to draw the goalie out of position while maintaining possession of the puck. A variation of the deke is the backhand deke. As the shooter skates towards the goalie, they fake a shot to the forehand side and then quickly switch to the backhand. With a bit of luck the goalie is caught off guard and unable to react in time as the puck slips past them into the net.
2. The Five Hole
This move requires precision and timing. The shooter approaches the goalie with speed, and just as they are about to release the puck, they slide it through the small opening between the goalie’s legs (otherwise known as the five hole). It can be a risky move, but when executed properly it can result in a sweet goal.
3. The Fake Shot
This move is all about deception. The shooter approaches the goalie as if they are going to take a shot, but at the last second they pull the puck back and skate around the goalie, slipping the puck into the net. It’s a tricky move, but when executed properly it can be very effective.
4. The Quick Release
The wrister is a perfect example of a quick-release shot. This move requires speed and accuracy: The shooter skates towards the goalie, and just as they are about to release the puck they snap it off their stick quickly, catching the goalie off guard. The puck flies into the net before the goalie has a chance to react.
5. The Slap Shot
The slap shot (“slapper” or “clapper”) move is for the confident shooter who isn’t afraid to take a big shot. As they skate towards the goalie, they wind up and take a full slap shot. The goalie can be caught off guard, and the puck flies past them into the net. Although this is used during regulation time in games, it is not often seen in a shootout.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The old adage “practice makes perfect” especially holds true for hockey shootouts. The more you practice your moves, the more comfortable you’ll be when it’s your turn in the lineup to shoot. Set up a shootout practice with your teammates or coaches and work on different moves and strategies. Repetition is the key to success in any skill, and shootouts are no different.
The Bottom Line
Scoring in the shootout requires a combination of skill, preparation and confidence. With these five tips, you’ll be on your way to becoming a shootout specialist. Remember to practice your moves, focus on the goalie, keep your head up, stickhandle with confidence, and practice some more. By doing so, you’ll be ready to seize the moment when the game is on the line.