Monday, September 11, 2006

Where's Righty?

Blogger Darren Barefoot had an interesting post last week that asks a hockey question I'm sure many of us have wondered at some point: Why do most NHL players shoot left?

After all, with only about 10 per cent of the population actually being left handed, it would stand to reason hockey players, like baseball players and golfers, would predominantly shoot right handed. As Darren goes on to say, that's not the case:
* Of 1071 NHL players and prospects, 65% shoot left.
* Among forwards only, 61% shoot left.
* Among defencemen, 72% shoot left.
My advice to the young defencemen out there? Learn to play right handed, as it'll help enhance your prospects in the pros (I'm kidding).

It did, however, work for Nolan Baumgartner this summer.


At 9:25 a.m., September 11, 2006, Blogger Michael Turner said...

You know, it's funny like that. I'm actually left-handed, but I shoot right. Why? Because I couldn't so much as properly balance a puck on my stick when skating ahead if I was using my right hand as the balancing one and my left hand at the mid-stick for that added 'Oomph!' to my shot.

It's different in sports like baseball, where you're not really multitasking and can use your stronger hand/arm by batting leftie or righty.

Either way, I get the feeling that most players probably are in the same boat as I am; they prefer the stability of their stronger hand holding the top of the shaft, while sacrificing any extra power to their shot.

At 12:21 p.m., September 11, 2006, Blogger Ryan Wolstat said...

I'm a righty and I shoot left.

At 12:25 p.m., September 11, 2006, Blogger allan said...

For the life of me I can't find it right now, but I remember reading an article a few years ago about this.

They found no correlation whatsoever between hand dominance and shot. But the interesting statistic was that the vast majority (80% +, I believe) of Canadian and European players shoot left, while nearly 2/3 of American players shoot right.

The suggestion was that most people shoot from the same side as the people they first watched playing hockey.

At 12:39 p.m., September 11, 2006, Blogger sager said...

Yeah, I sort of remember that article.... it makes more sense than the dominant-hand theory.

Of course, I would say that -- I'm left-handed, and shoot left too.

At 1:35 p.m., September 11, 2006, Blogger Jeff J said...

Back when Chris Chelios was with the Habs, there were a couple of occasions when he switched from right- to left-handed mid-shift. He would be approaching the puck from right to left along the blueline in the offensive zone, and rather than receive the puck on his backhand he'd turn his stick around and one-time it left-handed. Nothing came of it, but I recall he got a lot of mustard on the shot.

At 3:54 p.m., September 11, 2006, Blogger sager said...

I seem to recall that Paul Kariya, a lefty, would sometimes switch sides.

At 5:53 p.m., September 11, 2006, Anonymous Brad said...

Righty here who shoots right. Just the way I learned. I was given a right-handed street hockey stick way back when and learned the motions. Shooting left would feel totally alien to me now.

Funny thing is, 90% of the guys in my rec league shoot right too (I'm in the US).

At 10:45 p.m., September 11, 2006, Blogger d-lee said...

Funny... I wrote the exact same post back on August 1, complete with spreadsheet. Here . I was bored.

My comments section got into an interesting side point about eye dominance and cultural differences between folks who grow up European or Canadian versus those who grow up American.

Some theorists suggest that Americans grow up playing baseball with more frequency than Canadians or Europeans, and that because most kids bat according to whichever is their strong hand, they follow suit and shoot with that "hand" as well.

At 12:18 a.m., September 12, 2006, Anonymous Jason Mandell said...

There's actually a legit reason for this. Generally speaking, your stronger hand should be at the top of your stick. It will give you more leverage and flexibility, and help you keep the puck away from defenders with one hand, using your weak hand to fend people off but your strong hand to control the puck.

You'll see similar ratios in just about any high level hockey league, and perhaps even more in Europe. So...if you have kids and they pick up a stick, give them the best chance by encouraging them to hold the stick this way.

Of course, there's exceptions....

At 8:43 a.m., September 12, 2006, Blogger Bob Kowalski said...

I'm a righty who shoots left in the US. The comments about Americans being right-handed are correct; I would say that it is an 80-20 rule. I've heard all of the theories about dominant hand, etc, and this one: In the US, the hockey moms (God bless them!) who take their kids to the rink don't know any better and buy right-hand sticks. Any thoughts?


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