When it comes to hockey performance, you need to have the ability to express maximal force in the shortest timeframe possible. The faster you can express force into the hockey specific planes of motion, the more explosive and powerful you’re going to be on the ice.
The shot is no exception here.
Proper hockey training requires understanding the energy systems and muscle recruitment that is used out on the ice and reverse engineer those steps accordingly so we can train exactly how we need to in order to improve your performance, and not just make you stronger.
For the shot, it very much comes down to your rotational power, posterior chain development, and grip strength.
The problem I see so often in the industry now is coaches try to impress hockey athletes and/or hockey parents with crazy workouts and exercises that look cool, instead of impressing them with results.
It’s almost as if they give their athletes ridiculous looking exercises so they can get more likes on Instagram instead of having the athletes on-ice performance at the forefront of their programming importance.
Understanding the Shot
The fundamentals of improving shot power should revolve around all of the muscles that are loading and exploding during the shot.
Watch any hockey player who is known for his shot, the motion will always begin with the rear leg being loaded, a rotation of the hips and core first backward and then progressively forwards as they fire through the shot through with the arms and lats as the puck explodes off the stick.
In the case of improving the force output of this process; the shot is a low load, high-velocity rotational power movement, and should be trained as such. Additionally, it is heavily supported by relative strength, specifically in the lats, hips, and core.
In large part, the entire body’s relative strength is important in the shot as it is truly a total body movement depending on many different links in the movement chain. But, if we are creating a hierarchy of what is going to create the biggest impact in your training, the lats/hips/core/grip are likely to rise right to the top…. with rotational core power being on the top of that totem pole.
Knowledge is power.
You now know what muscles and actions you need to do in order to improve your shot power and take your game to the next level. Now let’s put some of that knowledge into action.
Wide Grip Pronated Lat Pull-ups
Because of the many different muscle groups in the back, your workouts need to include an even distribution of both vertical and horizontal pulling exercises as these are all going to play into your shot power.
Some of the best vertical pulling exercises include all variations of pull-ups, all variations of chin ups, and all variations lat pulldowns. Whereas the best horizontal pulling exercises include BB row, Pendlay row, Rope face pulls, one arm or two arm DB rows, seated cable row variations, and the chest supported row machine.
Additionally, due to the wide range in fiber distribution, it is wise to incorporate a range of 6-20 within your programming. This is not to mean your rep range for all workouts should be 6-20, I mean this is the range that is best to work within throughout the year.
For example, for one phase your rep range may be 6-8, but the next could be 18-20. Just don’t escape the high or low-end recommendations in most cases.
Although I am briefly discussing all of your back work here, my favorite exercise in this category to improve shot power is without a doubt the wide grip pronated pull up. It checks so many boxes:
- Grip strength
- Core strength
- Posterior chain development
- Emphasis on lats
These are all points we mentioned above and makes this exercise one of the best “bang for the buck” hockey shot power movements in the industry today.
Medicine Ball Rotational Scoop Toss
Nothing replicates the low load/high-velocity nature of a hockey shot better than medicine ball throw variations, this is arguably the most sport specific exercise you could ever use to improve shot power.
This is an exercise you can see a lot of within our YouTube workouts, but, I want to mention some important notes on technique and loading/exploding:
- Rotate your core and trunk so the front of your body turns horizontally as you get your back hip over your foot and load your rear leg
- Push off your back leg directly towards your front leg while simultaneously exploding into trunk rotation throwing the ball towards a wall as hard and as fast as you can
- It’s just as important to be able to control and decelerate the ball as it comes flying back to you. If you have trouble doing this, you need to incorporate some more plank work into your programming because core rigidity is crucially important for injury prevention
- When you do catch the ball, control it, rotate back and load your rear leg again, but pause for 1-2secs before exploding into another throw again
This is how you can best use the medicine ball to improve your shot power. Don’t forget the pause at the end of the movement as it teaches you to load and explode with all of your force, and not just bang off a bunch of reps.
Think about if you’re in a hockey game, do you get to just fire off 10 slap shots in a row?
Or is it one controlled load and explode effort?
We need to pause so you can focus on creating power, and not rotational speed conditioning.
One of the biggest movements in the entire exercise field. It incorporates nearly every single muscle in the body and the weight you are able to add to the bar allows for a massive stimulus for muscle strength and growth to be created.
This exercise absolutely smashes the glutes, legs, core, arms, grip, and the entire back. Anything that’s producing whole body power (which includes the shot) will be supported heavily by some good deadlift work.
Do not fall for the claims that it is bad for your back, this has been debunked in the literature many times over. It’s not the deadlift that is bad, it’s how you perform it.
Like any other exercise, if you perform it like an idiot you’re going to get hurt.
The deadlift should be a mainstay in your yearly programming and should be trained in multiple variations for the most complete development. Sumo deadlifts, conventional deadlifts, trap bar deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, DB deadlifts, and any other variation you can think of should all make an appearance from time to time and be progressively overloaded to ensure optimal carryover into your shot power.
Hockey Shot Power Workout
Below is a hockey shot power workout you can do at your gym to improve your shot. You won’t want to perform this more than once a week due to the fatigue accumulation that deadlifts place upon the muscles and nervous system.
A: BB conventional deadlifts – 3 x 4-6 with 3 minutes rest
B1: Wide grip pronated pull ups – 4 x 6-8 with 60 seconds rest
B2: Medicine ball rotational scoop toss – 4 x 3 per side with 2 minutes rest
C1: Wide stance good mornings – 2 x 10 with 60 seconds rest
C2: One arm DB row – 2 x 10/arm with 60 seconds rest
D1: Hanging leg raises – 3 x 15 with 60 seconds rest
D2: Plank – 3 x 30-60secs with 60 seconds rest
View these exercises at our Hockey Training Exercise Demonstrations channel.
Hockey movements in the gym are skills that you develop over time in the same way that you develop new skills on the ice. Using proper progression overtime and executing these moves with perfect technique will dramatically enhance your ability to produce maximal force in a short timeframe, produce a high amount of rotational power, and send pucks into the net on a weekly basis.
If you’re interested in learning more about improving your hockey shot power I recommend our Grip Strength Program “Lighting The Lamp” or either our In-Season or Off-Season Training Program found on our Hockey Training Programs page.