You are on page 1of 12

1

THEPHYSICSBEHINDHOCKEY

WhatArethePhysicsBehindWristandSlapShotsinHockey?

AshleySchroeder
UniversityofNorthCarolinaCharlotte

2
THEPHYSICSBEHINDHOCKEY

BACKGROUND/INTRODUCTION:

HockeyhasbeenagrowingsportaroundnotonlyintheUnitedStates,butintheworld.
FromtheevolutionofballandstickgamestoJamesCreightoncreatingthegameofHockeywe
knowandseetoday.Morespecifically,thesticksandskates.Creightonssportpopularity
heightened,butwasneverallowedindoors.Theybelievedthisbelongedontheponds(outside)
duetothedangeroftheballflyingaroundinside.Thisishowthecreationofthepunkcame
about,Creightonwasinspiredbyapieceofwood.Withthis,heflattenedthewoodandmadeit
circular,thefirsthockeypuck.Hockeyboomed,thisledtothecreationoftheNationalHockey
League(NHL)in1917.TheNHLstartedoutwith6teams,theNHLnowhas30teams.Buthas
anyonerealizedthephysicsbehindhockey?Orhowthedifferentbrandsofequipmenteffectthe
shot?ThatiswhereBiascomesintoplay,allhockeyequipmentbrandswillsaytheirstickisthe
bestandwithcertainendorsementsfromsomeofthetopNHLshooters,theiraudiencewill
believetheirbrandisthebest.Forexample,sinceSidneyCrosbyonlyusesReeboksticks,young
CrosbyfanswillonlywanttouseReeboksticks.
Backtophysics,anawfultopic,howexactlydoesthevelocity/powerbehindthepuck
beingshoteffectitschanceofgoingintothenet?Orwhatshotisthemostpowerful?Thatis
whatIconductedinmycasestudytoevaluatethepowerbehindbothwristandslapshotswith
theuseofthreedifferentbrandsofhockeysticksandfromthehelp5participates.
Inevitability,
sincehockeywascreatedandplayed,therehasbeenmanydifferentshotsthatmakebeen
created,aswellasmanydifferentwaystoshot.But,throughouttheyears,someshotshave
stayedthesame.Butwithequipmentadvanceshavingoccurred,thepowerandphysicsfortaking
theshotshavedrasticallychanged.Withtheassistanceoftechnologyadvances,studieshave

3
THEPHYSICSBEHINDHOCKEY

provenmoresuccessfullytechniquesintohowthepuckhitsthesticktoobtaincertainshotson
goal,betteryetmakethegoalsgoin.Withthetechnologyadvancestakingplacethehockey
industryandequipment,itiseasiertoobtainwristshotsandslapshots.

LITERATUREREVIEW:
Thegameofhockeyhasevolvedfromballandstickgamestothecreationofthepuck
andstickweseenow.Withthisevolutiontakingplacesincethestartof1872,notonlyhasthe
equipmentimproved/evolved,sohastheshots.IntheNHL,manyplayersareknownfortheir
complexshots,Forexample,AlexanderOvechkin.OvechkinorOviiscaptainforthe
WashingtonCapitals,heisknownforhiswristshots.Whichwillfurthercollaborateonlaterin
thepaper.WithfreshfacescomingintotheNHL,newshotsarebeingcreatedordonebetterthan
ever.Butwiththisshots,whatphysicsarebehindthem?Whatexactlygoesintomakingthese
shots?Isitthestiffnessofthestick?Thevelocityofthepuck?Orjustsimplyrightplaceatthe
righttime?
Perhapsthemostimportantpieceofequipmentthatisusedbyahockeyplayeristhe
hockeystick.Shootingapuckrequiresaplayer,usingtheirsticktoapplyaforcegreaterthanthe
frictionalforcesresistingthepuck'smovement.Theforcerequiredoniceisnotalotbecausethe
coefficientsoffrictionbetweenthepuckandtheiceareverysmall.Playershavetheabilityto
generateliftbecauseallstickbladeshaveacertain"tilt"angle.

(thefaceofthebladeisturned
slightlyupwards)Duringtheshot,thepuckslidesalongthefaceofthebladeanditisthetilt
whichallowsittobeliftedofftheicesurface.Thefollowthroughcreatesfurtherliftandthe
blade'scurvaturehelpsgeneratespinthespinduringthepuck'sflightenhancesstabilityandshot

4
THEPHYSICSBEHINDHOCKEY

accuracy
.
(Exploratorium,2012)Ifrighthanded,playerscanusetherightystickandthesame
goesforaleftystick.Therearetwomaintypesofshotswristshotandslapshot.Theplayer
usesittohandlethepuck,makepasses,checkopponentsand,mostimportantly,scoregoals.One
ofthemostimportantshotsthatiseffectedbythehockeystickistheslapshotisoneofthe
hardest,fastestshotsanyicehockeyplayercanmake.Thisshotrequiresmoreenergythanmost
ofothershotsaswellasbothspeedandaccuracytobedonecorrectly.Accordingtoastudydone
onMarch29,2009,theyhavefoundthatreducedstickstiffnessincreasespuckvelocityinyoung
maleicehockeyplayers(Thorsen,Gilenstam,&HenrikssonLarsen,2009).Meaning,themore
flexiblethestickis,thefasterthepuckwillgo.Butthisstudywasconductedaboutwomenthat
playhockeyandtheirslapshots.Thisstudywasconductedtowastoinvestigateifstick
flexibilityandpuckweightaffectpuckvelocityinstandingslapshotsperformedbyfemaleice
hockeyplayers.Nineofthetenplayersincreasedmeanpuckvelocitywhenstickstiffnessand
puckweightwerereduced(Thorsen,Gilenstam,&HenrikssonLarsen,2009),thusprovingthe
directcorrelationbetweenthetwo.Thisdiscoverywillmakeslapshotseasiertoconductforboth
menandfemaleicehockeyplayers.Theslapshotisthemostfrequentlyusedshotinhockey.
Otherthanthetipin,itisthemostdangerousshotinhockeyatalmostalldistances.At45feet,
theslapshotis25%morepotentthantheothershot(Ryder,2004).
Mentionedearlierinthepaper,awristshotrequiresconcentrationtofocusontheflick
ofthewristtogettheprecisionoftheshotproperly.Thewristshotisalsothedominantshot
under35feet,thewristshothasaboutaverageeffectivenessuptothatdistance.But,overthat
range,itseffectivenessslowlyfallsfromabout120%ofaveragetoabout80%.Onlongershots,
effectivenesscontinuestodeclineuntilitdropsbelow50%over55feet.
(Ryder,2004).
Butthis

5
THEPHYSICSBEHINDHOCKEY

shotrequireslessenergythanthatofaslapshot.Duringawristshot,playersshouldrelease
higherpuckspeedswithastickinwhichtheystoreincreasedelasticpotentialenergyinthe
shaft.(Stefanyshyn,Fairbairn,&Worobets,2006).Insummary,themoreflexiblethesticksare,
themoreenergytheyarefoundtostorethatthewristshotrequires.Themoreflexiblethestick
is,theeasieritmakesawristshotwithasmucheaseasOvican.Whatisalsotobetakeninto
account,istherearemultipletechniques/waystotakeawristshot.Forexample,thescoop
mechanism,thewristshotischaracterizedbyarapidflickofthewristduringtheendcontact
phasebetweenthebladeandpuck(MichaudPaquette,Pearsall,&Turcotte,2008).However,
thereismorekinesiologythatgoesintotheflickthenasimplyturnofthewrist.Theflick
motionrequiresthewristflexionandtheforearmpronation(thewaythewristrollsinward)with
thelowerhandgrippingthestick.Thus,iftheplayerhastheabilitytomoveinalargerangeof
motion,thepoweroftheshotwillincrease.Anotherkeyfactorthatgoesintothewristshotisthe
anglewhenthepuckisreleased.Iftheplayershavethepuckandstickclosertotheirbaseof
supportwhentheyfirstreceivethepuck,itwillincreasethevelocitybehindthepuck
(MichaudPaquette,Pearsall,&Turcotte,2008).Whilethemotionisverystraightforward,their
stickmotionprofilestendedtobemorependulumlikethroughout,rotatingabouttheshoulder.
Greaterwristinvolvementhasbeenshowntoimproveaccuracy.However,thepuckisnot
impactedsomuchastheplayerthemselvestakingtheshot.Thepuckisguidedforwardand
steeredintotheconcaveproportionofthefrontprofileofthestickbeingcradledbytheblade
(MichaudPaquette,Pearsall,&Turcotte,2008)
.

6
THEPHYSICSBEHINDHOCKEY

ENTERINGCONVERSATION:

Aftercollectingandresearchingcaseand/orobservationalstudiesaboutthephysics
behindthedifferentshots.Analysisofresultofthisstudiesprovethewaythepuckishit
projectedoffthestickisadeterminantofhow/ifthepuckwillgointothenet.Todeterminefrom
ahockeyplayerperspectiveofthephysicsbehindthedifferentkindofshotsaswellashowthe
puckandstickeffectthewayaplayershoots,IconductedaninterviewwithplayerMikeAquila
formtheUNCChockeyteamtobeabletoconductastudythatcanbefurthermoreabletoprove
howphysicseffectstheshot.
InterviewwithMikeAquila

MikeAquila,20,isaSophomoreatUNCCandplaysCenterontheUNCChockeyteam.

ASHLEYSCHROEDER:
Howlonghaveyoubeenplayingfor?

MIKEAQUILA:
16years.

AS:
Whatistheeasiestshottotake?

MA:
Itvariesfromplayertoplayeranddependsonwho'sshooting,butformeawristshot.

AS:
Whatmakesscoringagoaleasier?

MA:
Havingtimeandroomtoshootsoyoudon'thavetorushyourshotorgetabadshotoffand
missthenet

AS:
Mmm,interesting.Howdoyoucomparewristshotstoslapshots?

MA:
Aslapshotisforpowerandtogetareboundandislessaccurateawristshotisfor
quicknessaccuracyandmorelikelytoscoreyouagoal.

AS:
So,whichwouldyousayisamoredifficultshot?

MA:
Slapshotmostindefinitely.

AS:
Andwhatmakesthisshotdifficult?

7
THEPHYSICSBEHINDHOCKEY

MA:
I
tishardertogetagoodslapshotoffbecauseofthetechniqueyouhavetouse.

AS:
Sinceyouhavebeenplayinghockeyforthepast16years,whichbrandofequipmentdoyou
personallybelieveproducesthebestresultsand/oreasiesttouse?Why?

MA:
FordifferentpiecesofequipmentIpreferdifferentbrands,forprettymucheverything
thoughIwouldsayBauerproducesthebestandIsaythisbecauseitiscomfiesttouseandyou
cantellthedifferencebetweenthemandanotherbrand.

AS:
Whatkindofphysicsarebehindperfectingtheperfectshot?

MA:
Uhhtheangleofthewayyoutaketheshot,thelocationonthebladethepuckis,theice
surface,theflexofthestick,theforceyouputonit,theangleofyourbody.

AS:
Howmuchdoyouthinktheaerodynamicsincreatingthepuckeffectthewayithitspropels
offyourstick?

MA:
Thewayyouarecradlingitwouldeffecttheshotbecauseifyouaredoingitmoreupright
thentheshotwillsorehighandsameifyouaredoingitlowerandmoreoverit.

AS:
So,ultimatelyyouwouldthepositioningofyourhands,typeofstick,andthewaythepuck
isshot,predictsthephysicsbehindtheshot?

MA:
Yeaprettymuch.

Fromtheinformationobtainedfromtheinterview,thereisaclearcorrelationbetweenthe
physicsbetweendifferentshotsandhowtheequipmentisused.Meaning,myhypothesisis,with
helpfromdifferentbrands,andusingprojectilemotionfromphysics,effectboththewristshot
andslapshots.
METHOD:
Thisexperimentwillbeconductedon5malesfromages1620usingandBauer,CCM,
andReebokhockeystick,astandardNHLhockeypuck,andastandardradargun,andastop
watch.TheexperimentwilltakeplaceinsideastandardNHLsizehockeyrink,wherethenets

8
THEPHYSICSBEHINDHOCKEY

willbeplacewheretheynormalareinregulatorygames.Priortoenteringthering,eachofthe
hockeysticksshouldbemeasuredtocalculateitsmasssoyoucancomparethemassofthestick
tothewayiteffectstheswiftnessoftheshot.Fromhere,thesubjectswillstandincentericein
thefaceoffzone.Usingeachhockeystickbrand,firing3slapshotsfromcentericestationary
positionandrecordingthespeedofeachpuckshotattheendusingthesticks.Recordingthetime
ofwhenthepuckmadecontactwiththestickandwhenitmadecontactwiththenet(ifthey
didntmiss).Thenrepeatingtheprocessforwristshots.Subjectswillthenmovetothefaceoff
zoneontheleftsideoftheiceclosertothenetandrepeattheprocessforboththeslapshotand
wristshot.Repeatingtheprocessagainontherightsideofthenetinthefaceoffzone.After
recordingthespeedofeachshot,makeachartcomparingthespeedsofeachdifferentshot(s)
withthedifferentstickused.
ANALYSIS:
Shootingapuckrequiresaplayer,usingtheirsticktoapplyaforcegreaterthanthe
frictionalforcesresistingthepuck'smovement.Theforcerequiredoniceisnotalotbecausethe
coefficientsoffrictionbetweenthepuckandtheiceareverysmall.Playershavetheabilityto
generateliftbecauseallstickbladeshaveacertain"tilt"angle.(thefaceofthebladeisturned
slightlyupwards)Duringaslapshot,thepuckslidesalongthefaceofthebladeanditisthetilt
whichallowsittobeliftedofftheicesurface.Thefollowthroughcreatesfurtherliftandthe
blade'scurvaturehelpsgeneratespinthespinduringthepuck'sflightenhancesstabilityandshot
accuracy.Forexample,
IfsubjectonewastestingtheslapshotfromcenterfaceoffpositionwithaBauerhockey
stickwiththeinitialvelocityof0,thenthepuckonhisstickwouldbetravellingatthesame

9
THEPHYSICSBEHINDHOCKEY

velocityforthetimebeing.Nowtakingtheregardedspeedfromthepuck,youcandetermine:
(Assumethefollowing:puck'smass0.115kg)

Thepuck'saccelerationtowardsthenet[A=V
V
/T]
f
i

Thepuck'sfinalvelocity[V
=V
+(A*T)]
f
i

Workdonebystick[W=F*D]

Youcandeterminethisforthewristshotaswellusingthesameformulaanddatacollected.
Theplayerusesasweepingmotiontopropelthepucktowardthenet.Thepuckstaysonthe
bladeforthestickfor12feetandisdirectedtowardsthenetbytheturningoftheplayerswrist.
Theplayermustpressdownonhisstick,pushingitbothagainsttheiceandthepucksoit
accumulatesintopotentialenergyfortheshot.Whentheplayerallowsthemotionsofpushing
thepuckforwardandallowstheshafttosticktotherebound,thepuckwillmovetowardsthenet
atagreaterspeed.
IfsubjectonewastestingthewristshotfromrightsideofnetfaceoffzonewithaCCM
hockeystickwiththeinitialvelocityof0,thenthepuckonhisstickwouldbetravellingatthe
samevelocityforthetimebeing.Nowtakingtheregardedspeedfromthepuck,youcan
determine:(Assumethefollowing:puck'smass0.115kg)

Thepuck'saccelerationtowardsthenet[A=V
V
/T]
f
i

Thepuck'sfinalvelocity[V
=V
+(A*T)]
f
i

Workdonebystick[W=F*D]
OUTCOMES:
Bytheendofthestudy,thephysicsbehindtheshotscanbeclearlyseenfromthedata

collected.Welearnedthephysicsbehindthestickswerethatallhockeysticksaredesignedto

10
THEPHYSICSBEHINDHOCKEY

enablegoodpuckcontrol,whilealsobeinglightweightedandabletowithstandthestressof
beingplacedonitduringuse.Applyingtapetothebladeimprovesfrictionbetweentheblade
andpuck,thisisafactortotakeintoaccountwhendiscussingthephysicsbehindeachstick.
Whiletapingastick,theplayeruseshis/herpersonalreferencefortheirstyleofplay,thisadjust
theangleoflie.Thisistheangletheblademakeswiththeshaft.Welearnedfromthemass,
thebeststicktouseacarbonfiberlightweightedstick,thelighteststickbeingthebest.Going
offofthis,thepowerbehindslapshotisfarmorethanthatofawristshot.Allthefactorsofthe
slapshotexceedsthoseofawristshot,meaning,thereismorephysicsbehindtheslapshotthan
thewristshot.Meaning,thetypeofshotandthebrandofthestickeffectthephysicsbehindthe
shot,thusprovingmyhypothesiscorrect.

CONCLUSION:
WhatIfoundaboutmyresearchis,thereismorephysicsbehindeveryshotanNHLor
justhockeyplayermakesingeneral.Subconsciously,physicsisbeingusedwhentheplayer
analyzeswhethertheshottheytakehasachanceofgoingin.
Aftertheashotisfiredoffa
player'sstick,thepucktravelsthroughtheairwithparabolicprojectilemotion.Thepuckwill
alsocontinueitsflightintothenetorintothehandsofthegoalie.Mostofthetimethepuckis
firedatsuchahighvelocitythatspectatorscannotseethepuck'sentiretrajectory.Thisiswhy
theglassinanarenaneedstobebuiltprettyhighforsafetyreasonsaflyingpuckwillcontinue
alongitspathuntilitlosesitsverticalvelocityduetogravity,oruntilitimpactssomethingsuch
astheglass.ThisisanexampleofNewton'sfirstlaw.
IlearnedtheaverageslapshotintheNHL

11
THEPHYSICSBEHINDHOCKEY

hastheshootingpercentageof6.7%,withitbeingoneofthemostpowerfulshotsaplayercan
take,itgeneratesasignificantamountofforce/power,butwiththat,aplayerissacrificingtheir
accuracybecausetheyarehardtocontrolduetothepowerbehindthem.Whilethe8.6%
shootingpercentage,
awristshot,playersshouldreleasehigherpuckspeedswithastickin
whichtheystoreincreasedelasticpotentialenergyintheshaft.(Stefanyshyn,Fairbairn,&
Worobets,2006)
.Frommyresearchisvicesforeveryshot,andnoshotwillbeconsideredthe
bestoreasiestshotbecauseofhowitvariesfromplayertoplayerandhowtheequipmentis
madedifferentlyitisdifficulttogetconstituencytodeterminewhatisthebest.Forfurther
researchonthetopic,Iwouldconductthesamecase,butwithaoneconstantbrand,usingNHL
players,andalsopeoplewhohaveneverplayedtoseetheleveleasinessofusingtheequipment
anditeffectstheirshots.

12
THEPHYSICSBEHINDHOCKEY

REFERENCES:

"Exploratorium:TheMuseumofScience,ArtandHumanPerception."Exploratorium:The
MuseumofScience,ArtandHumanPerception.N.p.,n.d.Web.01Dec.2012.
<
http://www.exploratorium.edu/
>.

Frankel,Jeffrey,andJesseSchreger."OveroptimisticOfficialForecastsintheEurozoneand
FiscalRules."(2012):n.pag.
NHLRules
.NHL,01Jan.2015.Web.09Feb.2016

Gilenstam,K.,HenrikssonLarsn,K.,&Thorsen,K.(June01,2009).Influenceofstick
stiffnessandpuckweightonpuckvelocityduringslapshotsinwomensicehockey.Sports
Engineering,11,3,103107.

"HockeyPositions."
ColumbusBlueJackets
.NationalLeagueofHockey,23May2012.Web.
09Feb.2016.

MichaudPaquette,Y.,Pearsall,D.J.,&Turcotte,R.A.(February01,2009).Predictorsof
scoringaccuracy:icehockeywristshotmechanics.SportsEngineering,11,2,7584.

Ryder,Alan."ShotQuality."ShotQuality(n.d.):n.pag.
HockeyAnalytics
.HockeyAnalytics,10
Jan.2004.Web.20Mar.2016.

Schneoninger,Billy."HockeyPlayerLingo:TheUltimateDictionary."
HowtoTalkLikea
HockeyPlayer
.TheHockeyWrites,27Oct.2014.Web.09Feb.2016.

Staff,NHL."BlackhawksatHurricanes/GameHighlightsNHLVideoCenterCarolina
Hurricanes."
NHLVideoCenter
.NationalLeagueofHockey,25Jan.2016.Web.09Feb.2016.

Staff,NHL.JetsatHurricanes/GameHighlightsNHLVideoCenterCarolinaHurricanes
.
NHLVideoCenter
.NationalLeagueofHockey,05Feb.2016.Web.09Feb.2016

Worobets,J.T.,Fairbairn,J.C.,&Stefanyshyn,D.J.(December01,2006).Theinfluenceof
shaftstiffnessonpotentialenergyandpuckspeedduringwristandslapshotsinicehockey.
SportsEngineering,9,4,191200.