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Handedness in Hockey

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Old
02-18-2008, 12:48 PM
  #26
JRZ DVLS
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My 3 brothers and I are all right hand dominant, yet I am the only Left handed shot.

The thing i realize is when using the stick onehanded. Your dominant hand is generally the stronger hand/arm which helps you control the stick if you are using one hand and your dominant hand is on top of the stick. Other than that it doesn't matter....I think it is whatever someone is comfortable with...

Not sure I agree with the harder shot/stickhandling myth.

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02-18-2008, 12:59 PM
  #27
Karl with a C
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Quote:
Originally Posted by familyguyman View Post
He's saying that when you just pick up and go, you can pick up poor technique and form which can impede long term potential. Learning from scratch with the opposite handedness with a good coach and lots of practice will let you do it properly with greater results.

I think?
Well said, that's absolutely right.

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02-18-2008, 02:30 PM
  #28
Seldanne
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Originally Posted by Vakar Lajos View Post
I think it has to do with what sport you played first. Most kids I grew up with played baseball first and batted righty. When they started playing hockey it he transition was simplly moving their hands apart.

In Canada and Europe there is not nearly as many baseball players so hockey is the first sport. Therefore they instruct kids the "right" way, to use their dominant hand on the top. For most people that would be their right hand, meaning they are lefty shots.
Maybe I'm not thinking straight But isn't it this the opposite? I bat left, and shoot left (but write with my right hand). Batting left and shooting left would be most similar wouldn't it? if you bat left and spread your hands apart... it's like shooting left... Isn't it? Right hand is nearest the knob of the bat... and on the stick?

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Old
02-18-2008, 09:26 PM
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Injektilo View Post
70% of sticks sold in the US shoot right
70% of sticks sold in canada shoot left.

(bruce dowbiggen, The Stick)

explain that one.
Baseball

They get the kids to shoot the same way they bat.

I bat right, well actually switch but I'm better rightie, but most people shoot the same way they bat in the US.

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02-19-2008, 08:03 AM
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ti-girl View Post
Baseball

They get the kids to shoot the same way they bat.

I bat right, well actually switch but I'm better rightie, but most people shoot the same way they bat in the US.

Maybe, but a lot of kids play baseball in Canada as well.


I wrote this elsewhere, but i may as well post it here too, it's kinda interesting :



I read this book The Stick by Bruce Dowbiggin a while ago, my dad has a copy of it at home for some reason. It's quite possibly the only hockey book that mentions my hometown of New Hamburg, Ontario (~6000 people) repeatedly by name, as a location of one of the first hockey stick factories in the country.


Anyway, yesterday I was reminded of one of the more interesting bits of information in the book. Thankfully, it's reproduced online at the book's website, so I can just c&p it here. From www.thestickonline.com :



One hundred fifty years after it was first carved from a hornbeam tree near Truro, Nova Scotia, the hockey stick endures in every recess of the culture. It tells us who we are and why we do things differently from the rest of the world. Such as shoot lefthanded.

How in the name of Wayne Gretzky does lefthandedness with the stick make us distinctive? Well, Gretzky shoots left; so do seventy percent of stick purchasers from St. John's to Victoria. This in spite of the fact that Gretzky and 90 percent of his fellow Canadians are right-handed in all other things. But Americans are the mirror image: seventy percent of U.S.-born players shoot right. "It may be a cultural thing," says Mark Hughes of Easton. "It really is strange."

And not a passing whim, either; statistics kept by Sher-Wood over the decades consistently reflect this ongoing 70/30 left-right split . Canada also produces a higher proportion of left-handed golfers (Mike Weir) and baseball hitters (Larry Walker, Matt Stairs) than does the U.S. “Maybe Canadians are just smarter,” says Todd Levy of Ice Hockey in Harlem, an American-based community program. Thank you, Todd. But before we get too chuffed about Canadian ingenuity, it should be pointed out that almost ninety percent of European players shoot lefthanded-- in keeping with the traditional 90/10 split in the general population. That means that while Americans may be totally clued out on the subject, about 20 percent of Canadians are dim bulbs on which way to shoot. (Including this author).

But why are we so different from Americans? The simplest explanation may be that to exploit the full reach of a hockey stick when poke- or sweep-checking, you must hold the stick at the knob end. If your dominant hand (usually the right) is placed at that end, you have greater control of the stick . Putting left hand below right on the stick makes you a left-handed shooter. As well, a left-handed shooter finishes his follow-through on the dominant right leg, helping him put more force behind the shot and maintain better balance.

The playground suggests a more homespun explanation. In ball hockey, players must take a turn at all positions, including goal. A left-handed shooter can hold the goal stick in his right hand, then quickly adopt a shooting position by grabbing the shaft with his lower (or left) hand. A right-handed shot in goal, however, must either hold the stick in his left (weaker) hand or else reverse the stick each time he shoots-- an inconvenience that takes time. Young players soon learn to shoot with their dominant hand on top when they play goal in ball hockey. It's a cultural quirk that Americans, who slide the dominant right hand lower on golf clubs or baseball bats, are denied.

So when it comes to hockey sticks, Canadians are used to taking sides.




Another article here at USA Hockey Magazine seems to both agree with those stats and simultaneously contradict them, first saying that "...67 percent of the sticks sold by major manufacturers have right-handed curves..." It's not clear if they mean "in the US alone", but I'd imagine they do, or else their numbers are far, far different than the ones quoted by Dowbiggin and kept by Sher-Wood. Then it goes on to say that "Statistically, 61 percent of USA Hockey’s elite female players shoot left-handed, along with 53 percent of their male counterparts..." So unless shooting left provides an inherent advantage to playing hockey (see the rest of the article for far more on that topic) then there's something not quite right there.

That discrepancy between Canadian and American shooting tendencies seemed pretty intriguing to me, and it still is. The given explanation seemed/s insufficient. The first explanation makes absolutely no sense, and the second "homespun" one might suffice, but it seems to me that by the time a kid has developed physiologically enough to play road hockey or minor hockey, he already has a stick side picked. Most all kids love playing goalie though, so who knows. It might have something to do a wider prevalence of other "stick" sports in the US where the right hand is taught to be the dominant one, but I don't know enough about that to know if that makes sense.

And what of the Europeans? The bit about 90% of European skaters shooting left kinda surprised me as well. I checked the NHL's stats page and three or four minutes on there told me that of the top ten scorers from each of Sweden, Finland, Czech Rep and Russia, 32 of the 40 players shoot left. And four of those were Russian. Though oddly, Ovetchkin, Alfredsson and Selanne (the scoring leaders from each of their countries), all shoot right. What does that mean? You're right, probably nothing. Small sample size, margin of error, etc etc I know, but I'm not about to spend more time looking through players bios to see what way they shoot.

Contrast that with my experience this weekend. I went to an inline hockey tournament with the group of university kids I play with here in Kaohsiung. There were seven teams there, all with about 10-15 players on each team, about 80 skaters in total. I wasn't allowed to play in the tournament, not being an actual university student, so I had lots of time to wander around. I started noticing sticks, and aside from noticing that each and every stick there was a two-piece, I also started noticing that there was a distinct lack of left shot sticks. As a left shot myself, and someone still trying to find the perfect stick on this (largely) hockey-forsaken island, I pay attention to these things. Anyway, I started counting the left shot sticks I saw, and the grand total at the end of the day was three. Out of probably forty or fifty sticks I saw. And one of those leftys belonged to my teammate...... from France. It's virtually the same thing on my team, everyone shoots right, except the two foreigners.

All in all, some pretty drastic differences between cultures, and I don't think the "taking turns at playing goalie" theory is really strong enough, though it certainly could be a supporting factor.


On Dowbiggin's site, a reader writes in with possibly the best explanation of all:

As someone who has several years experience in the manufacture of hockey sticks and has a degree in physics. Years ago I came to the conclusion that the main reason that the Americans shoot right and Canadians shot left has to do with the age at which we pick up a stick. In Canada that age is generally much younger.

The top hand on a hockey stick has to be able to handle the torques of a hockey stick while the bottom hand just has to handle the weight with no torques. Since the torque (the shaft being a lever) can be rather hard to handle, at a young age one has to use their strongest hand to handle the torques thus a youngster (say 4 yr old) will use his strong hand (generally right) to hold the top of the shaft, thus they will learn to shot left if right handed. As we get older (say 10 yr old), the torques are not as hard to handle and one then will try and put the power hand (generally right hand) on the lower part of the shaft, since the weak hand (generally left) can now handle the torque of the stick.

Cheers Kent Mayhew


A scientific explanation for a cultural phenomenon which tells us something about the way different cultures approach the game, I love it.
This makes by far the most sense to me. Hockey cultures where sticks are more likely to be found in garages and basements means its more likely that a kid there will pick up a stick at a much younger age as a part of interacting with their environment. Compare that to a kid in a culture where hockey is more scarce, where becoming a hockey player might be a conscious decision at a much higher age.
What would be really interesting would be to see the figures for right and left shot sticks sold in places like Minnesota and New England, compared to the rest of the USA. Or numbers from places like France, Switzerland and Austria compared to other big hockey countries like Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic. I think you'd see that the number of lefty shooters are higher in Minnesota and New England, and those numbers quoted by USA Hockey Magazine linked to above would bear that out; if 67% of sticks sold in the US are rightys, but 53% of USA Hockey's elite males shoot left and 61% of their elite females shoot left, and if it makes sense that the majority of the players on those teams come either Minnesota or New England, then I think we can understand why the nationwide numbers are so different from the elite player numbers. I'd also be very curious to see if there's the same separation between the Canadian public and elite (by elite I mean not just NHL players, but also minor leaguers, and basically anyone good enough to actually earn a living playing hockey) Canadian players.

Who knows, maybe I should email Sher-Wood or Easton or CCM or whoever and see if they're willing to share those numbers, I'm sure they're kept.

I could certainly see that theory in work on the weekend at that tournament, I doubt many of those students playing had ever picked up a hockey stick at the age of five, most of them (and this goes with talking to my teammates as well) didn't start playing until well into their teens or when they started university. There's probably some sort of feedback loop at work as well, if 98% of the sticks in your environment shoot one way, you'll probably learn to like to shoot that way as well. What I should do is check out the higher level kids team that plays around here, there are some younger aged kids and most all of them would have started out at a pretty young age. It won't really be much of a scientific exercise, but who knows what might come up.


In any case, I'm quite glad that Mr. Kent Mayhew could provide me with a solid, sensible answer to a question that has bugged me ever since I read that book a few years ago.

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Old
02-19-2008, 09:21 AM
  #31
JRZ DVLS
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Long post but a good Read.

I tend to agree with the scientific side i guess and can understand that point. While we are all right handed, my brothers started playing at an older age than I did and are all right handed shots, whereas i started at a much younger age @ 4 yrs old and am a left shot.

Interesting. I guess there isn't any really justifiable reason why anyone is anything. It just comes natural when you pick up a stick, Shovel, Rake, or Sweep.


And as stated earlier in the post I am not to sure that Baseball and Hockey are linked. I bat and swing a golf club righty. Although in golf I can actually play lefty, just not so well....

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02-21-2008, 10:58 AM
  #32
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Good read, this is a topic that has plagued me for the last few years. I started playing hockey as an adult, after growing up playing baseball and golf. I'm a righty shooting right, as it just felt natural when I started playing. I must admit that I never even considered trying a lefty stick when I started, and there was no one to tell me to try.

I have been investigating this to see if there's any concrete reason why I should try to switch after 12 years of playing. So far all I've found is generic guesses w/ no empirical evidence. All I know is that when I try to use my wife's lefty stick now, I feel like my arms and hands are ******** and can't do anything with it.

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Old
02-21-2008, 10:14 PM
  #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruhnie View Post
Good read, this is a topic that has plagued me for the last few years. I started playing hockey as an adult, after growing up playing baseball and golf. I'm a righty shooting right, as it just felt natural when I started playing. I must admit that I never even considered trying a lefty stick when I started, and there was no one to tell me to try.

I have been investigating this to see if there's any concrete reason why I should try to switch after 12 years of playing. So far all I've found is generic guesses w/ no empirical evidence. All I know is that when I try to use my wife's lefty stick now, I feel like my arms and hands are ******** and can't do anything with it.
I understand what you mean, though I'm a righty who plays with a left handed stick. I wonder if I'd have a stronger shot if I switched sticks but my hands can't just switch roles like that. I started playing in my 30's and am mostly self-taught. I realized I should be shooting left as soon as I started stick handling with a right handed stick.

Shoveling, raking, sweeping and shooting pool -- similar motions to stick handling and I do them all with my right (strong) hand on top and my left in place to keep the shaft steady.

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Old
02-21-2008, 10:38 PM
  #34
WhipNash27
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Personally I don't think there's probably any real difference at all. The reason why there are so many left shots if you read that article is because odds are, if a player is a professional hockey player, he's probably been playing since he was four or so. So the whole idea of playing lefty makes sense. I think the main thing is, that no matter what hand you are, it shouldn't make a difference. If you're that good, you'll be so strong that it won't make that much of a difference. It's all about technique, work ethic, smarts (hockey sense) and natural skill/athletic ability.

If you took two kids with identical athletic ability (somehow) and started them playing hockey at the same age one righty shooting right and one lefty shooting left, and following them through playing the same roles in the same leagues and going through the same training and workout regiment their whole lives, I don't think there would be much of a difference in how they turned out. Of course there are other factors that contribute to it as well, but just as a hypothetical anyway.

Heck, Brendan Shanahan is a righty who shoots right-handed and he has no problems. I think his 647 NHL goals and still lethal shot at age 39 say so...

Picture to show that he's right handed outside of hockey.


Last edited by WhipNash27: 02-21-2008 at 11:04 PM.
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