Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lefty or righty?

Here's an interesting story from the New York Times questioning why most Canadian hockey players are left-handed shots, while most Americans are right-handed.

I've had a theory about this ever since the day I bought my first hockey stick when I was out of college. I'm right-handed, so, I figured, I should by a right-handed stick. It didn't feel right at all. When I skated fast and took one of my hands off the stick, my instinct was to take my left hand away, which left my right hand on the middle of the shaft. Awkward. I switched my hands and that felt right.

The article mentions that ideally, you want your dominant hand a the top of the stick. But that doesn't explain why Canadians, who are primarily right-handed when it comes to other things, like writing, are left-handed shots.

I've always figured that Canadians just "knew" about this since hockey is their sport, while there are a lot of American players whose parents didn't play and bought sticks for them based on how they did other things (writing, swinging a baseball bat, etc.).

When my son began playing hockey, I remembered my awkwardness and bought him a flat (non-curved) stick and let him or, rather, his body decide which way he would shoot. He writes and bats right-handed, but guess what?

He's a lefty.

By the way, here are the MSU stats in that department: Canadians: two lefties (Irwin, Galiardi), one righty (Mouillierat). Americans: 10 lefties (Canzanello, Cooper, Gaulrapp, Elbrecht, Sackrison, Davis, Mueller, Peterson, Boe, Zuck), 12 righties (Youds, Pitlick, Harrison, Louwerse, Jokinen, Stewart, Mosey, Dorr, Wiley, Thompson, Hayes, Schiller). Pretty even.


LetsGoMavs said...

Interesting post. Of the Mavs players you many of them are shooting the opposite of what they write?

I also wonder if this is a gender thing? Seems like it's common for men to write with one hand but then use the opposite for sports...yet I'm not personally aware of many women that do it.

On a semi-related note, I always think it's interesting to watch a goalie that's a lefty because it seems to throw off the opponents. Murdock is a lefty, correct?

Shane Frederick said...

Yes, Murdock catches right, which is the opposite of Lee and Cook and, it seems, most goalies.

hockeyfan said...

I am right handed and shot right when I played. My son is right handed. When I started him out shooting right he swiched to shooting left saying right didn't feel right. No clue why. My brother is right and shot left. Guess it is what ever feels better. Might explain why they were both better stick handlers than me but I had a harder shot.

Joe said...

i agree with hockey Hockeyfan's about stick handling vs hard shot. leverage comes from the middle of the stick so it makes sense that you would have a harder shot if your dominant hand is the one generating the power.

interesting article but nothing more. if you want a reason why canada dominants in hockey, national past time...everyone plays north of the border. I think the US is closing the gap and as more kids from areas other than the frost belt pick up the game we'll close the gap even more.

PROPS David Backes! Shane, you think David success will translate in better recruiting or our the likes of U of M, Wis, ND and denver so entrenched as powerhouses that we'll never get a kid to come to MSU over any of the others?

Christopher said...

Nice article and pertinent question. Why do so many right-handed folks shoot hockey sticks left-handed like I do? I concur with your theory of the dominate hand controlling the handle of the stick. Most dominant hands come with a larger and stronger wrist, forearm etc. I have to laugh at the guys who shoot during the Hy-Vee contests at the Mavs games. Most of them look as if they don't know which way to shoot either.