Secrets of the Snapshot

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West Point-The U.S. Military Academy

A quick snapshot is challenging for goalies to anticipate and stop. 12 ways to help you put the puck in the back of the net.

By David Franco

Mastering different types of shots is essential for any hockey player looking to excel on the ice. Two crucial shots that you should work on are the wrist shot and the snapshot. 

The wrist shot offers power and accuracy, a staple of most every player’s arsenal. However, to be truly proficient in a game where NHL odds can change in an instant, one must also master the snapshot.

In this comprehensive guide we will delve into the intricacies of the snapshot, exploring its mechanics, advantages, and when to employ it during gameplay.

The Snapshot versus the Wrist Shot

The snapshot and the wrist shot are two fundamental techniques in a hockey player’s arsenal, each serving a specific purpose in game situations. Although they may appear similar at first glance, key differences set them apart. Let’s examine these disparities to better understand when and how to use the snapshot effectively.

Speed and Power: The Quick Release

The snapshot is renowned for its rapid release, making it a challenging shot for goalies to anticipate and stop. Unlike the wrist shot, which requires some wind-up and focuses on finesse, the snapshot combines both velocity and force. By quickly transferring weight from the back foot to the front foot, players generate significant power in a fraction of a second. This quick release is what sets the snapshot apart from other shots in terms of speed and power.

Mechanics: Snapping the Puck off the Blade

To execute a snapshot, start with the puck positioned towards the middle or heel of the blade. With minimal arm movement, swiftly move the puck forward, generating force while still maintaining control over its direction. This snapping motion allows for a rapid release, frequently catching goalies off guard.

In contrast, the wrist shot requires cradling the puck near the toe of the stick blade, utilizing a combination of wrist and forearm strength to propel it forward while maintaining trajectory control.

When to Use Each Shot: Game Situations and Shot Selection

Deciding whether to use a snapshot or a wrist shot depends on the specific game situation and the desired outcome. Here are the scenarios in which each shot is most effective:

Snapshot Usage

The snapshot is ideal when time and space are limited, such as on a breakaway or when in close proximity to a defender. The quick release makes it difficult for goalies and defenders to anticipate the puck’s direction, increasing your chances of scoring.

Wrist Shot Application

On the other hand, the wrist shot shines when accuracy takes precedence over speed. It is particularly useful when aiming for specific corners or shooting through traffic in front of the net. The slower release of the wrist shot allows players more time to aim precisely, increasing the likelihood of finding the back of the net.

Mastering the Snapshot: Techniques and Tips

Now that we understand the snapshot and its role in the game, we will now take a look at some essential techniques and tips to help you master this crucial shot.

Hand Position: Finding the Sweet Spot

Achieving the optimal hand position is necessary for generating power and control when taking a snapshot. Unlike the wrist shot, where the hands are positioned differently, the snapshot requires the bottom hand to be slightly lower on the stick, closer to the middle of the shaft. This position allows players to flex the shaft to its maximum potential, extracting additional power from the stick.

Body Positioning: Chest Facing the Net

When preparing for a snapshot, it is essential to adjust your body positioning accordingly. While the wrist shot involves facing the net with your shoulder, the snapshot requires your chest to face the net. This adjustment is particularly important when executing the snapshot while skating towards the net in close proximity. The need for a quick release eliminates the luxury of setting up for a wrist shot, demanding an immediate snap of the puck.

Puck Placement: Preparing for the Quick Release

To execute a snapshot effectively, players must position the puck to the side of their body, similar to where it would be when stickhandling on their shooting side. This placement ensures that the puck is ready to be released in an instant, allowing for a quick and accurate shot.

Weight Transfer: Generating Power and Momentum

Weight transfer plays a critical role in the execution of a snapshot. Unlike the weight shift in a wrist shot, where the leg furthest from the blade of the stick carries the weight, the snapshot requires players to transfer their weight onto the leg closest to the blade. This transfer of weight, combined with a quick push-off from the other leg, creates the necessary momentum for a powerful and accurate snapshot.

Key Elements of the Snapshot: Hand Position and Puck Control

To achieve a successful snapshot, it is crucial to focus on specific elements of the shot. One key aspect is getting both hands out in front of the body while still cupping the puck. This positioning allows players to pull back with the top hand and push forward with the bottom hand, generating maximum power and speed. Maintaining control of the puck throughout the shot is vital for accurate and effective snapshots.

Practice Makes Perfect: Developing Shooting Proficiency

As with every hockey skill, practice is essential for mastering this essential shot. Here are some tips to help you improve your technique:

Practice Quick Release 

Emphasize the importance of a quick release during your practice sessions. The faster you can get the puck on net, the more effective your snapshot will be. This skill will prove invaluable when capitalizing on rebounds or catching a goalie out of position.

Repetition and Muscle Memory

Dedicate time every day to shooting practice, focusing on the technique described above. Repetition is key to developing muscle memory and training your muscles to execute the snapshot with speed and precision. Consistent practice will lead to faster and stronger muscle responses, enhancing your overall snapshot proficiency.

Accuracy Training

While speed is crucial for this type of shot, you should not overlook accuracy. Work on your aim during practice, targeting corners and specific targets. Developing accuracy along with speed will make your snapshots even more dangerous for goaltenders.

David Franco is a frequent contributor to CrossIceHockey.com. He is a sports fan and dedicated writer who has been analyzing teams, players and plays in order to provide the most accurate opinions around the sports universe.

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