Sunday, September 2, 2012

Blocking Shots

Blocking shots may be the most under appreciated act in the game. Although noticed when players block shots, often times it isn't credited as being very important. It takes a lot of heart to go down and block a shot, and also is a great defensive play. There are multiple ways to block a shot,  some are situational and some are more effective than others. To stand in front of a shot is a huge play that is rarely taught to players, but is more just a suggestion, an afterthought. Here are a few of my thoughts on blocking shots.

From the Point
Shots from the point are the shots most blocked by players going down and sacrificing their body. These shots are important to block as shots from the point are dangerous for rebounds, tips and deflections. Blocking the shot eliminates an opportunity for that to happen. When a shot from the point is blocked, it also frees up an opportunity to clear the puck from the defensive zone, as often times the puck will deflect off of your body and out of the zone. Also, teams who create lots of traffic in front of the net look to shots from the point for scoring opportunities, so blocking shots from the point eliminates the opposing defenseman from getting a good shot off at a goalie who is screened.
From the Slot
The slot is the ideal place to shoot the puck. You've got the best angle to shoot at, have the most net available to see, and probably the best chance for a rebound coming back out front. Blocking shots from the slot is huge, and takes away quality shots/scoring chances from the other team. These shots are also difficult for the goalie to save as they are from close range.

Ways to Block Shots
Example of a Laying Down Blocked Shot.
Laying Down- Laying down to block shots can be a great way to block a shot and also have the puck deflect off of your body and out of your defensive zone. However, timing is critical with this one. If you lay down to early to block a shot, a player could make a move and pull the puck around you, or make a quality pass. If you go down too late, the chances are better for the shot getting through. The best tip I have for laying down to block a shot would be to get as close to the player's stick when laying down, that way you give them less room to maneuver around if they don't release the shot, and also putting yourself in position to poke the puck away with your stick.
A Standing Blocked Shot
Standing Up- This way of blocking shots may be the best to create a scoring opportunity off a block as you are standing and able to continue skating after the shot is blocked, but it is the most low percentage way to block a shot. The higher level of hockey, the better players get at shooting around opposing players. By standing up, you still give the shooter options of what to do with the puck or where to place the shot. I personally wouldn't recommend this technique to block a shot as it is usually only effective from close range.

A Kneeling Shot Block
Kneeling- My personal favorite, the kneeling shot block. Most players try and shoot high going for the "top shelf" highlight reel goal, and this technique takes up equal horizontal and vertical space. This technique also is good for multiple situations. It can be effective on a 1-on-1 when the offensive player goes to take a shot, or in the slot when offensive player has a chance for a good shot. What's good about the kneeling shot blocking is that while you are taking away a lot of space from the shooter, you are also in the position to get up and stay with the play more quickly than the laying down technique.

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