How to Shoot a One-Timer in Hockey

Hockey shot

The “one-timer”—in which a player shoots the puck without first controlling it on their stick blade—is one of the more dynamic and effective shots in hockey. But it is also among the more difficult shots to hit well because several things must go right at once. Since you don’t take the time to cradle the puck on your stick blade, the one-timer is a slap shot or a snap shot. Hitting a good one-timer requires good timing, solid shooting fundamentals, and the ability to quickly get into the proper position. Here are some of the keys to mastering this quick-release shot, which can surprise the opposing goalie, leaving him little time to react.

Start With the Fundamentals of a Hockey Shot

Before we discuss the actual mechanics of the one-timer, it’s important to note that a player must first have mastered the fundamentals of a good shot—from holding the stick properly, to transferring weight from the back leg to the front, to the follow-through. (See “Five Tips to Improve Your Slap Shot.”) Your shooting technique must be second nature, based on muscle memory, so you can focus on the specific timing and positioning required to hit the puck well, with accuracy and power, with very little time to get yourself set.

It’s also vital that your skating technique is good enough to get you into the proper position in relation to the moving puck. With a standard shot, which starts with the puck already on your stick blade, you’re able to move the puck into just the right spot for you to hit it well. With a one-timer, the puck is moving, and it may not be a perfect feed. This means that you have to adjust to the puck, rather than the other way around. If you try to use your hands to adjust to the puck, you’ll disrupt your proper shooting fundamentals. Instead, use your feet to get your entire body into proper position, in relation to both the direction of the pass and the target.

There are two kinds of one-timers: those in which you’re stationary when the puck comes to you, and those in which you are skating through the pass. For instance, you may be set up on the edge of the face-off circle to one side of the goal, ready for a pass from behind the net, or you may be rushing into the offensive zone when your teammate makes a drop pass. In either situation, there are several variables involved that will affect the adjustments you’ll need to make as the puck approaches. How much time you have to make these adjustments depends on the speed of the puck, how long the pass is, and whether you’re anticipating the pass.

Executing the One-Timer, Step by Step

Here are the basic steps for hitting a one-timer with power and accuracy:

  1. As the puck approaches, move your feet to get your body into the proper shooting position: Maintain a good hockey stance, get your body perpendicular to the target, and plan for the puck to arrive slightly behind your back foot.
  2. Lock your bottom wrist, to maintain a strong bottom hand. Otherwise, the momentum of the moving puck might twist your stick blade, robbing you of power and causing the shot to go awry.
  3. Start your backlift as early as possible, so you don’t get caught short when the puck arrives. If you can see that a nearby teammate is about to make the pass, you can even start your backlift before the pass happens.
  4. Time your swing so you end up striking the puck in the same place you would hit it for any other shot.
  5. Dig the heel of your stick blade at the point of contact with the puck. Keep your blade face closed, so the puck can’t bounce off and your shot will stay low.
  6.  Transfer your weight from your back leg to your front, and end with your stick blade pointing at your target.

If you are skating onto a one-timer, adjust your speed to meet the puck correctly, and then lean into the puck—driving your stick blade through it. If you are close to the goal and want to get the puck up, open the face of the stick blade and drop your back knee to the ice. This will give the puck an upward trajectory to get over the keeper.

Of course, all hockey skills require practice and repetition before they become second nature. Since a good one-timer requires proper technique, positioning, and timing, it’s even more important that you put in the practice. Every situation in which you can hit a one-timer in a game will be slightly different: The pass may be slow or fast, your position on the ice may change, etc. So your ability to judge the puck’s speed and angle, and adjust your body position, and make good contact with your stick blade will come only after you’ve done it many times. Find a good partner on the ice and work on the various one-timer situations you might face in a game. The payoff will be more goals.