Monday, July 21, 2008

How to Block Shots

How to Block Shots in Hockey

Blocking shots is an exiting defensive play. Done properly, it’s a safe way to create an opportunity for your team to regain control of the puck.

Be Brave

The most important tip is to position your legs and body squarely in front of the shot. The puck should hit your shin pads straight on. If you’re afraid of getting hit by the puck and turn to the side, you risk taking the puck off your ankle or the side of the leg where you have far less protection. Unless you are willing to face the shooter head on, you’re better off getting out of the way altogether.

Get as Close to the Shooter as Possible

The closer you are to the shooter, the less time the puck has to gather speed. Back away from the shot, and you risk screening your goalie. You also increase risk of taking the shot somewhere on your body besides your shin pads. Somewhere more painful. Remember, you’re not the goalie. If you're near your own net when the shot comes barreling at you, better to clear out of the way and let the goalie make the save.

Getting Started

Start practicing by blocking shots using a tennis ball or hockey ball until you get the right feel for it. Then move on to blocking real shots with real pucks. Maybe look into getting a pair of ankle guards.

Sliding Blocks

Once you’re comfortable blocking shots standing up, try blocking on your side with a controlled slide in front of the shooter. Just like the standing block, your shin pads should be stacked on top of each other and lined up with the shot. Be careful not to slide too fast, or you might take yourself out of the play if the shot is faked.

So get past the fear and start blocking shots. The fans will be in awe, and your team will love you for your thrilling defensive play.

If you don't wear a cage on your helmet, you'll want to be careful about where your stick is. If you try to poke check the forward as he shoots, the shot could deflect off your stick and into your face. That's exactly what happened to Willie Mitchel when he was with the Canucks:

He must have been dazed from the initial shot, because it looks like he makes the cardinal sin of turning sideways to block the second shot. Brutal shift for Willie.

Check out these other tips on Defence:

Covering in Front of the Net
How to Play Defence One-on-One

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