When players think of hockey shooting drills, most would think of ripping forehand wrist shots, snap shots or slap shots. Very few think to practice backhand shots on a regular basis. Further, most youth hockey drills are designed for players to exclusively use their forehand, whether for shooting, passing or catching pucks. Why is this?

Conventional wisdom is that a player is stronger on their forehand, perhaps due to the blade's curvature (which is reversed on one’s backhand), or perhaps because the bottom hand palm is outward facing and can push on a forehand (and reserved on a backhand). There is truth in these statements for sure. But it is also true that if you neglect to train the backhand and only focus on the forehand, then the differences between the two sides will be more pronounced, and there will be missed opportunities.

The reality is that much of the game is played in tight spaces, such as along the boards or in scrums in front of the net, in which you only have a split second to do something. Sometimes the only play is to clear the puck on your backhand high off the boards, make a saucer pass over a defenseman’s stick to a teammate, or flip in a juicy rebound over the goalie’s outstretched glove.

I routinely tell my players that “whatever you do on the forehand, you have to do equally as well (or better) on the backhand”. If you’re working on passing, practice going from backhand to backhand. If you’re doing a stickhandling drill into a shot, finish with backhand shots. Instead of just shooting forehand wrist shots from 10-15 feet on front of the net, line up the pucks five feet in front of the goal post and let them rip. During the pre-game skate around, grab a puck and practice doing 5 backhand flips high off the boards.

So now that you know why this is important, let’s next focus on how to make the backhand shot effective. Recall these four simple tips to creating a powerful backhand shot:

  • Weight transfer towards your front leg
  • Move the puck from heel to toe while your stick moves forward
  • Pull with your bottom hand, pushing down on blade to create leverage
  • Follow through by pointing at your target 

I don’t want you to be half a hockey player. Balance your training by developing your proficiency from both sides, and over time see yourself making plays and getting quality shots in these situations.


Edited in May 2024 from original article written by Lance Pitlick in October 2017. Based in the Minneapolis area, Lance is a former NHL player with Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers, played collegiate hockey with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, is a foremost training professional with stickhandling and shooting both in-person and through onlinehockeytraining.com, and is the founder and former owner of Snipers Edge Hockey. 

May 27, 2024 — Sniper Sam

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