Ice Hockey: Slapshot Velocity and Hockey Stick Technology

The slapshot is the most formidable weapon in an offensive ice hockey player's arsenal. Delivered by the drawing back of the hockey stick blade to

Professional hockey players are often capable of firing a slapshot at speeds in excess of 100 mph (160 km/h).
approximately waist level or higher, the shooter drives the blade of his/her stick through the puck with maximum force. Although not as accurate as the more controlled wrist shot, professional hockey players are often capable of firing the puck at speeds in excess of 100 mph (160 km/h) at the opponent's goal.

In the early days of ice hockey, the sticks used by players were constructed entirely of wood, with a straight blade. The slapshot was popularized by Montreal Canadiens star Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion, in the 1950s. Bobby Hull was the first player to successfully employ a curved stick blade to deliver his slapshot in the National Hockey League (NHL) in the 1960s. The curved blade provided Hull with both additional velocity to the shot and it imparted an erratic dip to the flight of the puck when shot toward the opposing goal.

In the early 1980s, serious research commenced concerning the creation of a hockey stick composed of artificial materials. It was believed that such sticks would provide players with an advanced degree of flexion in the shaft of the stick, allowing greater energy to be imparted from the force of the shot into the puck. These research initiatives centered on increasing the coefficient of restitution (COR) of the hockey stick.

By the late 1990s, a number of manufacturers had composite stick products available for the mass ice hockey market. Various products employ either single components or combination substances such as plastic, carbon fiber, fiberglass, Kevlar-type materials, and other synthetics in their construction. These modern hockey sticks typically have a significantly higher COR than traditional wood designs; various testing of these composite sticks has demonstrated that slapshot velocities increase by approximately 7-10% when the stick is employed by a skilled player.

There are a number of variables that will impact upon the velocity achieved through the slapshot. Where the shooter is able to move into the puck, when he/she is skating and then striking the puck on the move, the puck will have imparted to it not only the energy created by the shooter's slapshot motion, but also the transferred speed of the shooter on the approach. By virtue of the principles of COR, a puck that is shot as it is moving, by virtue of a pass to the shooter, can be shot harder than a puck struck from a stationary position.

SEE ALSO Cricket batting; Ice hockey; Range of motion.