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Shooting the Puck
Friesen shoots past diving player
San Jose Sharks Forward Jeff Friesen releases a quick wrist shot past a diving defenseman.
"How do you hit a puck 100 miles per hour?" was one of the first questions we asked when we began to examine the science of hockey. The slapshot is certainly one of the most exciting aspects of the game, and when properly implemented, the puck becomes the fastest moving object in any major professional team sport. Players talk about what goes into slapshots and wrists shots, and the scientists in this section will examine the physics behind shooting the puck.

In this section, there are RealAudio and video clips from San Jose Sharks Forward Tony Granato, Sharks Defenseman, Doug Bodger and Exploratorium Scientist Thomas Humphrey.


Every year before the NHL All-Star game players' slapshots are clocked with a radar gun. The San Jose Sharks have arguably the fastest slapshot in the league in defenseman Al Iafrate. He has been clocked at well over 100 miles (160 km) per hour. So how does he hit a puck that fast? Where does the power come from? Defenseman Doug Bodger believes that a good slapshot is mostly technique and that the power comes from a weight transfer. The weight of the player transfers from his back legs right through to the stick in his hands.Using a high-speed video camera we examined Sharks forward Jeff Friesen's slapshot and found that this was true, but there was more going on than just that.

Doug Bodger
San Jose Sharks Doug Bodger talks about the slapshot.

Media Bar

San Jose Sharks Forward Jeff Friesen demonstrates a slapshot
High Speed Control Panel

Friesen hit the ice a good foot or more before the stick came in contact with the puck. This caused the stick to "bow" considerably. When the stick did come in contact with the puck, the "bow" was released, snapping the stick towards the puck just as Friesen was following through with his swing (and transfering his weight). The overall motion is combined with the stick snapping back, releasing energy into the puck. There is also a slight snap of the wrists at the end of the motion--allowing the puck to spin off the stick. This gyroscopic action allows the puck to remain stable in flight, which helps the shot's accuracy


Breaking the stick in the shop
In the name of science, we decided to sacrifice a brand new stick.

Breaking your stick

Just how strong is a hockey stick? After watching Jeff Friesen's stick bend we wanted to see what takes to break a hockey stick. In the Exploratorium shop, we used a vise, a spring scale, and a block and tackle. The particular model we used was a fiberglass stick with wooden replacement blades. After placing the stick in the vise we pulled on a rope connected to the block and tackle and the spring scale. To make a long story short, it took nearly one ton of force to break this particular hockey stick! Anyone who watches the game knows that players' sticks are broken often. In fact, most players tape up three or four sticks before a game just to make sure they have enough.

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Shooting the Puck:1-of-2

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