Saturday, February 27, 2010

What's the right -- or left -- way to hold a hockey stick?

Probably the smartest story I've read during the Olympics came, not surprisingly, from the New York Times, which examined this interesting phenomenon: In Canada, more left-handed hockey sticks are sold than right-handed ones. In the U.S., it's the opposite.

But get this: in both countries, more people are right-handed. Excerpt from the story:
A lot of experts would argue, however, that having the dominant hand on top makes for better control and stick-handling. 
The United States Olympic women’s hockey coach, Mark Johnson, is in that camp, but he said: “Whether you’re living in a hotbed hockey community or you live in a na├»ve place where you don’t really know hockey, and you’re a mother or a father taking your daughter to a hockey shop, you’ll ask, ‘Which way do you write?’ If she says right-handed, well, she’s going to be right-handed.

“That’s generally not the way you want to do it. You want your dominant hand on top of your stick. But you look around and there’s a lot of right-handed female players, more so than with men.”
Well, that's certainly interesting and it does seem to makes sense. I picked up an ice hockey stick for the first time last April and it never crossed my mind to anything but righty -- I'm right-handed and it felt natural to shoot on the right-hand side. Puck dribbling didn't feel as natural, but I just chalked that up to the newness of hockey. 

As it happens, I have an old left-handed wooden stick that someone gave me. I've been doodling with it in the driveway and I do like having my dominant right hand on top of the stick. Shooting lefty feels awkward but not as awkward as trying to hit a softball or tennis ball left-handed.

I'm not going to switch as this point. But if I had to start all over again, I might have gone the left route.

--Steve Hymon

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