Why Shooting to Score is NOT Always the Best Option

By Tyler Hinds, there's something beautiful about a well-executed P.O.P. (@THinds3)

Before I get going, I'd like to start by saying that 95% of the time I recommend taking a shot with the intent of scoring a goal. There are, however, certain opportunities that present themselves during a game when it is actually more beneficial to shoot with the intent of creating a juicy rebound for a teammate, almost like a bank pass. Let's learn more about how, when, and when not to use the P.O.P. (pass off the pads).

Teach Me How to P.O.P.

Passes off the goalie's pads are actually quite easy to do but your other teammate needs to be on the same page as you. Their stick must on the ice in a ready position otherwise, they'll miss the puck. Make your shot is to the far side of the net, along the ice, but not quite full power, maybe only 75% so the rebound settles nicely for your teammate. The shot itself will appear harmless; nothing more than an easy save for the goalie, but your teammate should have a nice and easy tap in back-door. 

When to Use the P.O.P.

Let's create a scenario: you are a left-handed shooter streaking down the left side of the ice with the puck on a 2-on-1 with your teammate who is driving the net (also a left-handed shot). The D-man is covering the rush well, taking away the pass and shading over towards the shooter as you approach the net so you can't cut to the middle for a better-angled shot. What're your options?

  1. Shoot far-side over the glove
    • Tough shot for a lefty
    • Miss the net and it'll be a 2-on-1 the other way
  2. Shoot short-side over/under the blocker
    • Must be a perfect shot
    • Little room for error
  3. Shoot far-side along the ice for a P.O.P.
    • Rebound will go to your teammate
    • Should be a tap in goal

Of the three options in this scenario, the third would be my top pick. You are still getting a shot off, it is a low risk play, and who knows, you could even beat the unsuspecting goalie clean. Here are some other situations to use the coveted P.O.P...

  • Odd man rush attack with a player driving the net on their off-wing (as described above)
  • Point shots when there's too much traffic to pick a corner, shoot low to the side where you have an uncovered player
  • Walking out from behind the net, jam the puck off the far pad to create havoc in-front

When NOT to Use the P.O.P.

As great as P.O.P. are, they should not be used that often. Good goal scorers need to be selfish and shoot to score when they are in a prime real estate such as...

  • Open looks in the slot
  • Odd man rushes with a clear lane to the net

How do I Practice P.O.P.

There's an excellent game you can play at the end of practice called Rebound, which will help both your players and goalies. You'll need at least 5 skaters, 1 goalie, and a half-dozen pucks. The shooter will stand somewhere between the top of the hash marks and the ringette line with the 4 other players lined evenly on either side and the goalie in their crease. 

It starts with a shot from the top, where the shooter can either shoot to score or shoot for a rebound. Rebounds are live; a shot can be taken or one pass can be made before the next shot must occur. The play is dead if a goal comes from the initial shot. The play continues until a rebound goal is scored, the puck is covered, the puck crosses the goal-line or touches the boards above the goal-line. Skaters get 1 point for scoring a goal and the goalie gets 1 point for all the other options that end the play without a goal. The first team to get to 10 points wins.

Rebound encourages your shooters to use the goalie's pads to gain scoring chances while the goalie learns how to control their rebounds so they aren't so readily available for the shooters. Try it out next practice!


Bury every rebound with authority,

Tyler Hinds


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