An average NHL slap shot is around 80-90mph. The hardest slap shot clocked in at 108.8 mph by Zdeno Chára of the Boston Bruins in the 2012 NHL Skills Competition. To put that into perspective, MVP Alexander Ovechkin, clocked in at 101.3mph at the 2018 NHL Skills Competition. In hockey, having a powerful shot is an advantage. Goalies will have less time to adjust to the direction of the puck. However, accuracy, is also a crucial element in deciding the success of a shot.
Ready to add some mph to your slap shot?
First, let’s go over a slap shot and the biomechanics behind it. The slap shot is a shot where a player will perform a wind up motion, followed by a follow through motion.
Let’s break down the swing in 5 simple phases:
- Backswing (raising your stick up)
- Downswing (driving your stick down to the puck)
- Loading (where the stick makes contact with the puck)
- Release (where the puck leaves the stick)
- Follow through (stick swinging up)
This shot relies on being able to generate a lot of force in a small amount of time. Think POWER, (Power= work/time).
Biomechanically, the slap shot is a total body movement. It will involve your arms, shoulders, back, core, hips, knees, and ankles. The joints and muscles need to move in sync with one another to perform the perfect shot.
Now that we know what a slap shot is, how can we increase the speed of your swing?
You can do so by working on your technique and training for power! The technique of our swing is important because it needs to be smooth to optimize efficiency and power output. A hitch in your swing will cause mechanical leaks, resulting in a plateau of the speed of your shot.
Now let’s say your shot has perfect technique. The only thing left to do is train to become stronger and more explosive. Well, you may ask, how should I train? Should you train like a powerlifter, being able to lift over 500lbs? Or how about a bodybuilder? Probably not…
Although, being strong is a key component, those training methods are missing the speed component and the functionality of being able to shoot a slap shot. We have drawn up the 5 best exercises for hockey players to utilize for increasing power on their shot.
1. Medicine Ball Skater Hop Side Toss:
This exercise is what we call a “bang for your buck”. Just like how a slap shot involves a lot of muscle groups, so does this exercise. It targets unilateral lower body power in the frontal plane, while targeting the core and upper body power in the transverse plane. When doing this exercise, use the momentum of the skater hop and transfer that into the medicine ball side toss. The power will come from our base! Think about driving all that force into the wall on every repetition.
2. Rolling Hip Tap
The slap shot involves rotation of the trunk. One of the key muscle groups involved in the rotation of the trunk are the obliques. The rolling hip tap is great because it involves overall core stability and mainly targets the obliques. This functional core exercise is great for any athlete, especially hockey players.
3. TRX Rip Stick Rotation
This exercise will be beneficial because it will target the upper body and core stability with the rip stick press. The split stance finish will target lower body stability, building a stronger base. The rotational element will translate well with the hockey slap shot.
4. Lateral Box Blast
Lateral box blast is important for a hockey slap shot because it works on lateral power (think ability to transfer a load laterally over a short amount of time). On the backswing and downswing, the power is generated from our arms and hips. Just like a hockey slap shot, the lateral box blast involves a fast arm swing followed by an explosive push with the lower body. The glutes will be our primary muscle group activated.
5. Hex Bar Banded Deadlift
The banded Hex Bar deadlift will build strength. At the end of the day we still need to be strong to shoot a hard slap shot, but we want to be functionally strong. This exercise will be beneficial to a bunch of elements related to hockey like grip strength, core strength, lower body strength, upper body stability. the list goes on and on. The resistance band will be beneficial to add to the exercise because it will promote a speed element to the lift and more of a load. Remember speed is crucial when it comes to power.
Give these 5 exercises a go and one should start to see beneficial changes to the speed of their shot. Now remember, these 5 exercises aren’t the end all be all. One can not do the same exercises every single day, overtraining is a real thing. However, incorporate these exercises periodically into one’s training regimen and it will lay a great foundation for hockey players.
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