When a player shoots the ball in soccer, it's counted as a "shot" regardless of whether it goes wide, gets saved by the goalie, or goes in as a goal. However, in hockey, a shot is only counted as a "shot" when the puck either hits the goalie, or goes in as a goal. Keep in mind, shots are further divided into "shots on goal" and "shots taken" in both sports.

The question is, when someone talks about a shot in soccer, they're referring to a "shot taken", whereas when someone talks about a shot in hockey, they're referring to a "shot on goal". Why the discrepancy?

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    probably (at least in part) because they are different sports with different rules.
    – wax eagle
    Commented Jun 28, 2012 at 18:31
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    Counting the shots in soccer appears to be a relatively recent invention (well, maybe 15 years old or so), coming in with the commercialization. I think it's a fairly useless statistic, often it's more interesting to consider the shots that should have been taken but were missed. It probably went something like this: ESPN needed something to put on the screen and talk about at half time during the 1994 World Cup. So they adapted the shots statistic from ice hockey. Then they noticed that there are often zero shots during a game, so they started counting wide shots as well. Commented Jun 28, 2012 at 21:26
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    Also, don't forget that in football the ball is out of play if it goes over the crossbar or past the post. In hockey the puck can still be in play behind the goal.
    – Ste
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 15:26
  • @PeterEisentraut Your answer is very intriguing. I'd accept it if you made it an actual answer. Would be great if we had some proof too, but I can see that being the real answer.
    – Highrule
    Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 21:43
  • @PeterEisentraut: calling an off-target shot "a shot" long pre-dates counting it as a stat, though. English commentators said "Best shoots and misses" even though his playing career ended before ESPN started actually counting the number of times it happened. Approximately, in soccer "a shot" is an attempt to score, however misguided, which some stats-keepers later formalized. In hockey "a shot" is a reasonably plausible attempt to score, again by some stat-keeping definition. I have no idea why there's a difference between the sports, so this is not an answer :-) Commented Nov 24, 2014 at 18:18

2 Answers 2


If I had to guess I'd say while they are similar in a lot of ways, soccer is played on a much larger field where players run on foot while ice hockey is played on a much smaller sheet of ice that players skate really fast on. Soccer probably counts all shots cause they're not as frequently taken while in ice hockey shots happen far more frequently and therefor counting all those wide shots would add up a lot. In essence though, they're just different sports and the players and stat keepers probably just feel differently about it.

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    Statistics in Football are not very important. Taking in mind that there are a lot of games with 0 (yeah, a zero) shoots on goal, is not very important where did the ball go. Is a little more important if the players try to take shoots or not.
    – gbianchi
    Commented Jun 28, 2012 at 19:19
  • Right, this was my thinking, but there comes a problem in hockey looking at raw box scores when you assume Team X is dominating because they have 10 shots versus Team Y's 2 shots. However, Team Y could have 48 shots that just went wide, which tells a different story altogether...
    – Highrule
    Commented Jun 28, 2012 at 20:38
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    @gbianchi "Statistics in football are not very important". I could not disagree more. And I doubt the folk at Opta or Soccer by Numbers would agree either! Football stats are massively important!
    – Ste
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 15:29
  • @Ste well, not really. There is a lot of people taking statistics about games, but when you see any game, you will see that there almost no one that is important. Football is a changing game. A team that didn't cross the the middle could win a game with a lucky shoot. A team shooting 20 times at goal, could not even do a goal.
    – gbianchi
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 19:54
  • @gbianchi - You're making a case for my argument there! "A team shooting 20 times at goal didn't score". Is that not a statistic?
    – Ste
    Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 8:22

In hockey, a shot is ruled a "shot on goal" if the puck would cross the plane created by the net and goal line. If a goaltender/player is there to block the shot from crossing the plane, it is counted as a shot on goal. In the case of a puck hitting the crossbar, it is not regarded as a shot on goal since the frame of the net is not regarded as part of the plane. It constitutes a missed shot.

Starting with the 1998-99 season, the NHL began expanded the statistics it tracks regarding on-ice actions, such as blocked shots, missed shots, time on ice, etc. This information is available in each game's event summary. Below is an example from Game 6 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals:


If a fan wanted to see the equivalent of soccer's "shots taken" they would simply have to add up the number of attempts blocked (A/B), missed shots (MS) and shots on goal (S). Using the above reference as an example, the New Jersey Devils took 38 shots, while the Los Angeles Kings took 57.

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