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I usually write blog posts on topics that have crossed my mind that week or a part of training/hockey that I felt strongly about and has been a success or a complete disaster. I always look to consider what happened and why – that’s one of the main reasons I find blogging so useful but it’s also a good way to get things out of your head and onto paper, I’ve never had much capacity for storing information for long periods of time and occasionally, I feel like I’m running out of room.

Previously I’d written a blog post on ‘The Art of Goalscoring’ – I included all the typical things that your coach tells you such as; get low and stay low, don’t rely on power, shoot early etc. etc. etc…they are all relevant and probably won’t hurt to bear in mind but they all refer to the execution of your shot. So I’m going to go backwards which might seem like a strange way to go but bear with me.

Let’s assume you are a player or coach a player who is technically very good in training, executes most shots in non contact exercises but can’t mirror that in live game situations – it happens and if it’s happening to you or one of your team, then working backwards is the way forwards. I’m not trying to confuse you, I promise…

Let’s break it down into a few points. First you have positioning (where you receive the ball), then decision making (what to do next) and then the execution of the shot. Lets ignore the execution of the shot, you’re probably not going to get that far without a bit more focus on the positioning and the decision making.

If we look at positioning first there a few aspects to consider and they all feed off each other;

How, when and where do I try to get on the ball?

HOW and WHERE? It’s not always going to be easy to receive the ball in the space you want. So how you receive the ball is going to determine whether you get to shoot or not. Where you end up will probably determine whether you can shoot first time or not. Again, if you’re under pressure where you’re positioned, how you take your first touch and how you position your body will play a big part in the options you have and the execution of those options.

WHEN? The timing of your lead is all important, common sense dictates the longer the lead, the earlier you go but don’t always assume you have to keep making long leads, sometimes it’s easier, as play gets closer to you, to be more efficient, smarter and fight for position then get in front of your defender last minute.

Positioning and decision making aren’t mutually exclusive but rather the best players can probably work these side by side very quickly.

For me decision making is made easier by pre-scanning and awareness. Taking into account how much space and time you have and what areas of the D you can quickly use to give yourself the best possible chance of getting a shot away. Your positioning will heavily impact this. Can I shoot first time? If the answer is no, then how can I secure the ball in the D away from the defenders reach and/or sight? Using your body as a shield can keep the ball out of reach/sight. Also use the space around you, especially that opposite to the defender in order to give yourself the most time and best angle whilst minimizing the opportunity for the defender to see and reach the ball. For example if the defender is on my right, can I use the space on my left? Check out Mirco Pruyser giving a pretty good demonstration.

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