How to Improve Wrist Shot Accuracy in Hockey

Since 1990, a key event in the annual NHL All-Star Skills Competition has been Accuracy Shooting, which asks players to hit targets in the four corners of the net. (For 2020, a fifth target was added in the center of the net.) Since these parts of the net offer the best chances to beat the goalkeeper, it stands to reason that your ability to hit these targets will translate to more goals in real-game situations.

To work on wrist-shot accuracy at home, it’s best to create a training setup that allows you to do many repetitions of shooting drills. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A shooting pad
  • A bag of pucks
  • Your game stick
  • A goal-and-target system

Because shooting accuracy depends on very small differences in your release motion, you need to mimic actual game conditions. The shooting pad offers a realistic feel that you can’t get from a cement floor or asphalt driveway, and it allows you to hone your shot mechanics better. Having at least a dozen pucks at your disposal helps you get in the hundreds or thousands of repetitions that will create muscle memory. Train with the hockey stick you plan to play with–same model, length, and curve–so it feels like a natural extension of your body. Finally, choose a targeting system that’s easy to use and offers instant feedback if you hit the spot you’re aiming for.

Choose a Starting Point

Rather than simply working on hitting all the targets at once, work on mastering them one at a time. We’ve previously posted about the basic five “holes” that players have to shoot at—Low Glove, High Glove, High Blocker, Low Blocker, and Five Hole. For a right-handed player, the right side of the goal (facing you, and usually the goalie’s Glove Side) is going to offer the best opportunities to score because you don’t have to bring the puck across the goaltender’s body.

So start by focusing on the Low Glove or High Glove target, aiming for just that single spot until you can hit it almost every time. It helps to set a goal for yourself—for instance, you must hit the target three times in a row before you can move on to the next target. If you start with Low Glove, plan to shoot at least two rounds of pucks at that one target. This will allow you to really get “sighted in,” and the repetition will help you lock in the muscle memory of what an accurate shot to that location feels like. After two rounds, then try to hit the target three times in a row. Only after you succeed can you move on to High Glove, and so on.

Then, practicing simply becomes a question of repetitions, doing the same drills over and over and asking more and more of yourself. Once it becomes easy to hit three in a row, change the rules to require five in a row before you can move on to the next target. Next, start with the target you struggle with most and work backward to the one you find easiest. Soon, you’ll find you can start with any target and hit it consistently, which will come in mighty handy when you find yourself with the puck in front of a real goaltender.