Sticks - which hand?
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09-27-2010, 01:12 PM
Join Date: Nov 2007
Originally Posted by
The way my (former IHL player) first coach taught me was that most Americans shoot right, most Canadians shoot left. Americans tend to learn baseball as a kid. In baseball, right handed people put their right hand on top when they hold a bat, which translates to your bottom hand in hockey. They learn the weight transfer this weight both in a baseball swing and a golf swing, and it's relatively similar to a hockey weight transfer on a shot. When they pick up hockey either as a kid or later, they translate that motion to a right-handed hockey shot.
Canadians, meanwhile, tend to learn to swing a hockey stick first, and like many have mentioned here, the biggest difference is puckhandling, which doesn't exist in either of the other "swing sports." Because the top hand is basically responsible for the fine motor control in puck handling, they want their strongest hand on top, which in a right handed person would mean a left shot stick. Because about 90 percent of people are right handed, that means about 90 percent of Canadians are left shots while about 90 percent of Americans (less in some of the areas where hockey is a bigger youth sport than baseball) are right shots.
If you've been a righty baseball player or golfer and decide to be a left shot hockey player (which is what I did when I started), a left shot will feel strange for a good long while, especially the shooting motion. Stickhandling is definitely easier, but there's a real tendency to try and stab at the puck with just your top hand on the stick, and you have to relearn the weight shift and build strength in your left (lower/power) arm.
Honestly, you can learn either way and it's not going to be a huge deal. It will be easier to stickhandle but harder to shoot as a beginner if you go left shot and easier to shoot but harder to stickhandle if you go right shot.
The easiest solution would probably be to go to a stick and puck or drop in and explain to a friendly-looking left shot who's about your height and who has an extra stick that you're a beginner and don't know which side stick you need, that you've tried right and want to mess around with his stick for a session. I went left shot because that first coach was a left shot and let me try his stick for a practice. I think I "donated" my original, cheap right-shot stick to the rink in case someone needed one.
That's honestly the best explanation for the difference that I've ever heard.
It makes a lot of sense too... I have friends who shoot left in hockey, but are rightys in the other sports (namely baseball and golf). I'm the only person that's a lefty in all three.
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