Home On Ice Skaters Slapshots vs. Wrist Shots: Which One to Use?

Slapshots vs. Wrist Shots: Which One to Use?

West Point-The U.S. Military Academy

Slapshots vs. wrist shots? Both are important tools in every player’s arsenal.

Grasping the nuances of shooting techniques is akin to wielding a painter’s brush on a canvas. Each shot, whether slapshots vs. wrist shots, possesses its own unique characteristics that are suited for different scenarios on the ice.

To excel as a hockey player you must not only hone your skills but also possess the tactical acumen to know when to unleash the power of a slapshot, and when the finesse of a wrist shot is the more appropriate choice.

The Power of Slapshots vs. Wrist Shots


The slapshot, renowned for its sheer velocity and power, can be a spectacle to behold on the ice. It involves striking the puck with the full force generated by a skater’s body weight and the flex of the stick, resulting in a thunderous release that can catch a goalie off guard. However, the effectiveness of a slapshot is not limited solely to its raw power; the ability to penetrate defensive formations and create scoring opportunities makes it indispensable in certain situations.

One such scenario where the slapshot reigns supreme is during power plays. With the opposing team down a player or two the ice opens up, providing ample room for players to wind up and unleash blistering clappers from the point. The sheer speed of the shot, coupled with its unpredictable trajectory, can overwhelm goaltenders and provide scoring chances through deflections or rebounds off the defense.

Moreover, the slapshot is especially valuable in situations where a quick release is imperative. When you find yourself in a prime scoring position with minimal time to spare, opting for a slapshot can put the puck past an unprepared goalie, exploiting any gaps in their positioning before they can react. Additionally, the slapshot’s ability to generate rebounds off the goalie’s pads can lead to second-chance opportunities for teammates crashing the net.

The Finesse of the Wrist Shot

Despite its undeniable prowess, the slapshot is not always the optimal choice. That’s where the wrist shot comes in, a finesse-driven technique that prioritizes accuracy and deception over brute force. Unlike the slapshot’s wind-up, the wrist shot is executed with a quick flick of the wrists, allowing for rapid release and precision shooting.

In situations where accuracy is paramount, such as when attempting to pick the corners of the net or exploit small gaps in the goalie’s net coverage, the wrist shot shines. Its controlled release enables you to place the puck with pinpoint accuracy, making it a preferred choice for snipers looking to bury the puck in the back of the net.

Slap Shot vs. Wrist Shot: The Basics

Slap Shots

  • Powerful shots where the player strikes the puck with a full backswing of the stick.
  • Often used for long-distance shooting, especially when a player needs to get the puck past defenders or when there’s a clear line of sight to the goal.
  • Commonly employed during power plays when there’s more time and space to wind up for a powerful shot.
  • Can also be effective for shooting through screens of players in front of the net, as the speed and unpredictability of the shot can make it difficult for the goalie to track.

Wrist Shots

  • Involve a quick flick of the wrist to propel the puck toward the net with precision and accuracy.
  • Often used in close-quarters situations where there isn’t enough time or space for a full wind-up, such as when a player is in close proximity to the net or when shooting off a rebound.
  • Preferred by players for accuracy and placement rather than sheer power. Which makes them ideal for picking corners or finding gaps in the goalie’s coverage.
  • Can also be effective for creating deflections off of other players in front of the net, as they’re easier to control and direct than slap shots.

What’s more, the wrist shot’s versatility extends to its effectiveness in close-quarters combat. When navigating through traffic in front of the net or engaging in one-on-one battles with defenders, the wrist shot’s compact motion allows players to release the puck swiftly, catching goaltenders unaware with its suddenness.

Additionally, the wrist shot’s ability to disguise intentions adds another layer of complexity to offensive maneuvers. By subtly changing the angle or release point, players can deceive defenders and goaltenders alike, setting up chances to score where none seemed apparent.


The decision on whether to deploy slapshots vs. wrist shots hinges on a multitude of factors, including your position on the ice, the defensive setup of the opposing team, and the time and space available to execute the shot. While the raw power of the slapshot can overpower defenses and create scoring chances in open ice, the wrist shot’s precision and versatility make it a potent weapon in tight quarters and high-pressure situations.

Ultimately, mastering the art of shooting in hockey requires more than just raw talent; it demands a deep understanding of when to leverage each technique to maximum effect. Whether unleashing a clapper from the point during a power play or deftly slipping a wrist shot past a goaltender’s outstretched pad, those who can wield these tools with finesse and precision hold the keys to unlocking their team’s offensive potential on the ice.

Bottom Line: Slap shots are typically utilized for power and distance, while wrist shots are favored for accuracy and quick release. But both are important tools in a player’s arsenal depending on the specific situation on the ice.

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