Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hockey Slapshot Video Analysis

This week, we're excited to bring you a post from a friend who works for the major hockey stick manufacturer Warrior Hockey (formerly Innovative Hockey). Jared Quartuccio has been with Warrior Hockey since 1999 and is their Motion Capture Pro Manager. He uses state-of-the-art video and motion capture technology to film professional NHL and amateur players, and uses this information to design hockey sticks that help each player get the most out of their shots. He's provided a couple video clips taken during some motion capture sessions, along with his analysis of the videos. Take it away, Jared!
The 2009 NHL Playoffs are now in full swing. Hockey fans know that the playoffs are more accurately described as “Second Season”. This is the time of year when the heavy hitters are still standing, and the rest of the boys are playing golf.
In honor of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s fitting to discuss some small details about a hockey shot that could improve any player’s shot. It isn’t very often that a hockey player gets the chance to score in a game, so making the shot as good as possible is a key factor in the success of a team.
The hockey shot is a very dynamic process, and very unrepeatable during a game. It seems that no shot can really be taken the same way twice when there are so many factors changing during an offensive attack. This is why the fundamentals are so important. When the opportunity to take a shot arrives, the more fundamentally sound the player’s technique is, the better the chance for a goal. The video examples below are not game situations, but they will help demonstrate our point more clearly.

We’ll be focusing mostly on the motion and position of the body through the shot. The skating analysis will be up to you for now.

Both players are taking a semi-stationary slap-shot. The puck is static, and the players both have some motion going into the shot. This is the most common type of slap shot, as one-timers have much more movement, and a stationary slap shot almost never occurs. Shot power and puck speed originate from a build up and transfer of energy. A better build-up, a smoother transfer, and a better direction, equals a more favorable result.
Let’s look at four main points for the analysis of these slap shots.

Back Swing/Set-up:
Shooter #1 (on the left-side of the video) begins his shot with a full extension of his back arm which brings the stick to a position perpendicular to the ice. The stick is out, and away from the body. These factors allow for a larger/longer arc for the stick to follow on its path to the puck. This usually translates into higher blade speed at contact, a better build-up.

Shooter #2 (on the right-side of the video) begins his shot with an abbreviated back swing where the stick never really reaches a perpendicular position to the ice. The arms are also held closely to the body. The arc of travel for shooter #2’s blade is not going to be as long, and a slower blade speed could occur. Shooter #2 is also looking down at the puck as the motion begins.

Head Position/Eye Direction:
The head position and eye direction are extremely important. The head is the steering wheel for the body, and whereever the eyes are looking is where the energy will be directed. Shooter #1 has his head and eyes looking forward towards the target at the beginning of his back swing, and all the way through his shot. Before the energy is even built up, the shooter has given his body the direction for the release.
Shooter #2 begins his shot looking down at the puck. A loss of forward energy occurs as some is being directed downward for the first part of the shot.
Also, at the end of the shot, Shooter #1 is still looking fully forward at the target. Shooter #2 never really reaches a straight on view with the intended target, meaning the energy never receives the entirely correct direction.

The “Anchor”:
As energy moves forward through the shot it is extremely important to allow the transfer to happen as unrestricted as possible. The big problem a shooter faces in hockey is the “anchor”, or back leg. When a shooter leaves their back leg stuck on the ice during the slap shot there is a large amount of energy that gets stuck behind the body with it.
You can see that shooter #1 lifts his back leg and foot up off the ice as he goes forward through the shot. Lifting your back foot allows the most energy possible to flow forward, and also allows your body to follow a more natural swing path.
Shooter #2 leaves his trailing foot on the ice, and you can see that it directly affects the turning of the front foot, and the transfer of energy. The body is being “weighed down”.

The Follow Through:
This aspect of the slap shot is pretty simple. Every sport that involves swinging something has training for follow through. In hockey, the perfect follow through leaves the blade, and shaft of the stick, pointing directly at the desired target. This allows for the most amount of accuracy, and ensures that all your shot’s energy was transferred to the right direction.
Shooter #1 ends his shot with the stick pointed directly at his target. The blade is turned over nicely and closed towards the target. There was no mistake in his mind as to where that puck was going to end up.
Shooter #2 ends his shot with the stick pointed well above the net and blade pointed directly up. This could lead to a loss of accuracy and energy as the puck leaves the blade.

The players in these video clips are NHL professionals, so their shots are already just about as good as they can be. But these videos show you that even the best of the best can always improve on something. At Warrior Hockey, we have developed a system to analyze and breakdown the performance of a stick and player through a shot. With this system, we design sticks that help each player get the most out of their shots. We learn new things every time we get on the ice, and are dedicated to building that knowledge into our sticks.

Hopefully these pointers are helpful to you, or any player you coach, from the recreational to the professional. Have fun watching the playoffs!!


Anonymous said...

I have a question. What if my slap shot involves m feet not being 90 degrees or 68 degrees. My feet are shoulder with the part when i take a stationary slap shot and when i start it, i transfer my weight to my back leg, bring my stick up to about shoulder height and then when i come down, i transfer all of my weight to my front leg and bring my stick down to about 8in. when my stick makes contact with the ground. Now i also make sure that my head stays still during this process. When i then make contact with the puck, my stick follows through and my head stays still. That's just a general view on my slap shot. I am 13 years old and play for the Florida jr.Panthers and i am a forward with a wicked wrist and snap shot, that seems to beat every goalie. But i need to add my slap shot to my game because i know that it is a crucial part of the game.

Dudley Tabakin said...

Thanks for your comment Jr. Panther. It sounds like you have a pretty good slap shot.
To clarify, the angle being presented for shooter #1 and shooter #2 is the angle between the hocky stick shaft and the ground at the top of their back swing. Shooter #1 can generate more blade speed and therefore hit a more powerful shot because he brings his stick up higher in his back swing and creates a 90 degree angle with the ground.
Your feet should be positioned so that you are balanced throughout the shot. You are correct that you should transfer your weight from your back leg to your front leg through the swing too. Your feet should be positioned so that you can hit your shot on target as well as follow through correctly. Positioning your front foot a little behind the line on which you are shooting will allow you to shoot on target and follow through correctly to create the power you want. You can see this foot positioning in the videos above too.
Work hard and try to capture some video of yourself in action so that you can see what you are doing.

Jared Quartuccio said...

Panther Shooter, sounds like Dudley gave you a great answer to your question. It sounds like you are doing everything correctly from your description of your shooting style. Just be sure to follow through with your stick towards your target, and also to pick your back leg up off the ice if you feel it is holding you back from a fluid motion.
Keep practicing, and if you get a chance to take video of yourself like Dudley suggested, it would be a great learning tool.
Keep shooting!!

More Recommendations