A Guide to the Hockey Snap Shot
Mastering different shots is essential for any hockey player wanting to up their game. And the shot every hockey player needs to master, the one that can make a significant difference in performance on the ice, is the snapshot.
Keep reading as we dive into exactly what a hockey snapshot is and the mechanics behind making this powerful shot – because if there’s any one shot that can be a literal gamechanger, it’s the snapshot hockey players need to know.
In this article, we’ll cover:
The snapshot hockey shot combines the wrist shot’s velocity and the slapshot’s force. It’s an effective shooting technique when used correctly.
The hallmark of a hockey snapshot is a quick release and powerful force. Unlike other shots – like the slapshot (which requires wind-up time) or the wrist shot (which focuses on finesse) – the snapshot is the ideal combination of speed and strength.
When you correctly shoot with a snapshot, the puck is quickly snapped off the blade of your stick with minimal backswing while still being able to offer enough velocity and power to challenge goaltenders.
Both snapshots and wrist shots are essential techniques every hockey player needs to know. They seem similar at first glance, but there are key differences between these types of shots that distinguish them from one another.
Understanding hockey snapshot mechanics will help you determine which shot you should use in various game situations.
Speed and power: A primary difference between a snapshot and a wrist shot lies in speed and power.
The snapshot is known for its quick release, making it harder for goalies to react in time. The puck’s velocity comes from a snapping motion as you quickly transfer weight from the back foot to the front foot while shooting.
The wrist shot is a technique that demands precision and skill over sheer strength. This type of shot is used when accuracy is critical.
Mechanics: The mechanics behind different types of shots will also differ.
In a snapshot, you start with the puck towards the middle or heel of the blade before quickly moving it forward with minimal arm movement. The rapid motion generates significant force while still allowing for control over direction.
The wrist shot requires you to cradle the puck near the toe part of your stick blade. You then sweep the puck across your body using a combination of wrist and forearm strength to propel it forward while still being able to control the trajectory.
When to use each shot: Deciding when to use a snapshot or wrist shot depends on game situations.
Use a snapshot when you have limited time and space – like during a breakaway or when near a defender. The fast release makes it hard for goalies or defenders to anticipate puck direction.
The wrist shot is best used when accuracy is more important than speed – like when you’re trying to pick corners or shoot through traffic in front of the net. The slow release gives you more time to aim precisely.
Making a snapshot hockey move is about mastering and then using the shot at the right time. Use the following steps to learn how to improve a snapshot in hockey games.
The biggest part of hockey snapshot mechanics is your position. Set yourself up with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. This stance gives you stability and balance as you shoot.
Hold the stick firmly but not too tightly. Your top hand should be near the end of the stick, and your bottom one should be about halfway down. Your grip should be comfortable enough for easy maneuverability while you can still maintain control over your stick.
3. Puck placement
Put the puck on its edge toward your back foot. It should be close enough to keep control but far enough away to generate power during your shot. Check that your hands are both positioned correctly.
4. The wind-up
Begin by transferring weight onto your back foot while simultaneously pulling back on your top hand to create tension. Next, push forward with your bottom hand to generate torque. This motion creates potential energy that’ll be released into kinetic energy as you execute your snapshot.
5. Firing off your shot
When you feel maximum tension between both hands, quickly transfer weight from the back to your front foot while snapping your wrists forward forcefully to release stored energy into the puck and propel it toward the target at high speed — aim low and hard.
The following tips will help you perfect your hockey snapshot:
- Focus on your hand positioning: Where your hands are on the stick can offer optimal control and power when using a snapshot.
- Flex your stick: Use the flex of your stick by applying pressure with both hands during your shooting motion. Flex gives you more power and makes it harder for a goalie or defender to stop the puck.
- Cup the puck: Cradle or cup the puck with your blade before you snap it forward. Cupping gives you accuracy and prevents defenders from knocking away loose pucks.
- Aim low and hard: Aiming low improves your chance of scoring. Goalies have less time to react, especially if other players are in front of them or screening their view.
- Puck placement matters: Placing the puck closer to your body instead of extending it too far lets you use your stick flex to get more power in your shot.
Snapshots in the NHL aren’t as fast as some other shots (like slapshots), but they’re still fast enough to make it hard for goaltenders to respond. The average speed of an NHL player snapshot can range between 65 to 80 mph. While this is slower than the 100 mph slapshots can be, the snapshot is still quite effective because of its quick release and accuracy.
There isn’t one definitive answer about who has the hardest hockey snapshot in the NHL, but there are a few notable players worthy of mentioning:
- Steven Stamkos: The Tampa Bay Lightning captain is well-known for his powerful and accurate snapshots from the faceoff circle. His quick release and precision shots make him one of the most feared shooters in the game.
- Patrik Laine: This Finnish forward playing for Columbus Blue Jackets has an incredibly hard and precise snapshot. He can quickly change angles while maintaining power on his releases, making it difficult for goaltenders to anticipate where he’ll shoot next.
- Auston Matthews: The Toronto Maple Leafs star center is known for his ability to generate incredible velocity on his wrist and snapshots alike. His quick hands let him get off rapid-fire releases without sacrificing power or accuracy.
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