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Old 02-21-2019, 08:52 PM
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Ice Hockey: Right Wing vs Left Wing


Nope, nothing to do with politics here. Iíve been following hockey since the 1980s but never played it. What the difference between playing right wing vs left wing? Is there a different raw skill set that makes someone better at LW as opposed to RW?
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Old 02-21-2019, 09:15 PM
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Historically, you wanted better shooters on the right side. Gordie Howe, Rocket Richard, Guy Lafleur and Mike Bossy were all right wings with a talent for putting pucks in the net. Of those 4, only Richard was a left handed shot.

Informally, I don't know exact numbers, I am pretty sure that more players are left handed shots than right handed shots. Most centres have, again historically, been left handed shooters. That makes it easier for them to pass to the right wing, which is why you want a sniper there. Of course a notable exception would have been Stan Mikita, a right handed shot centre, who played with Bobby Hull on the left wing.

I say historically because the game and the nature of the positions have become much more fluid in the last few years. But generally you want a good shooter on the forehand side of your best centre.
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Old 02-21-2019, 09:20 PM
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Traditionally, someone who shoots lefty would be a left winger, but that is changing.
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Old 02-22-2019, 06:16 AM
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Yes, left shooters (left hand low on the stick) should be on the left wing... etc. Same with the defense pair. But it usually doesn't work out that way, it seems there are a shortage of right shooters. Oddly, most right-handed people will shoot left, myself included.
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Old 02-22-2019, 07:16 AM
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Traditionally, players who shoot from the left were left wingers and vice versa for the right wing. This is advantageous because you can pick the puck up off the boards, keep the puck wide of the defense coming from the middle.

In today's hockey, you play with what you have. Players are not really limited by which hand they shoot, in fact, player positions are much more fluid due to talent, availability, chemistry, injuries, etc..

K364 - That's not odd. Most players will have their dominant hand at the top of the stick for better control, accuracy, etc.. so you would naturally shoot on the left.

That said, there are many players that hold their stick "backwards" with their dominant hand down the stick. These guys are usually known to have harder shots.
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Old 02-22-2019, 08:21 AM
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There is no advantage to shooting left versus right; it's just imitation, habit and custom, the way baseball catchers are all right handed for no real reason.
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Old 02-22-2019, 10:00 AM
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Playing on your strong side is more common among defensemen than wings, because the defensemen spend more time taking pucks off the boards at the corners, and because it helps them push attackers to the outside.

For wings, sometimes it's nice to have an easier time getting the puck off the boards, and sometimes it's nice to be taking your shot closer to center ice.

Here's a long article about left versus right. The general conclusion is that it basically comes down to preference. You'll find some situations where one is better than the other, or playing your strong vs weak side makes more sense, but overall they play where they feel most comfortable.
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Old 02-22-2019, 10:50 AM
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Which side of the net is easier to score into- the goalie's stick or glove side? Does it it make a difference in the handedness of the goalie as to whether a left shooter or right shooter has an advantage?
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Old 02-22-2019, 11:23 AM
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Unlike shooters, which is a little more balanced (65% left vs 35% right), goalies are much more likely (~90%) to hold the stick in their right and glove on the left. So theoretically, it should be easier to shoot at their stick hand, i.e., the shooter's left. But you don't see that reflected in left-handed shooters being more successful than righties, so who knows.
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Old 02-23-2019, 08:07 AM
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There's supposedly something to the idea of having your dominant hand low on the stick for more control, vs. more power with dominant hand high, but I expect it's all about what you're comfortable with. I did read an article about how Canada has the highest proportion of left handed golfers in the world because it's a lot more common for Canadians to shoot lefty in hockey.
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Old 02-23-2019, 02:25 PM
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Conversely, a disproportionate fraction of American hockey players shoot right because they pick up a hockey stick the same way that they pick up a baseball bat.
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Old 02-23-2019, 05:15 PM
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Certainly when I played hockey (a complete righty) I never considered anything but right hand low with my left side facing the net if I turned sideways for a shot. It was how I palyed baseball and golf. If someone had told me Canadians did it the other way I'd have thought they were kidding me.
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Old 02-23-2019, 06:01 PM
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It's not just Canadians, I remember the Russian side in the famous 1972 series against Canada only had a few right hand shooters.
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Old 02-23-2019, 06:13 PM
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Left handed shooters are not all necessarily left handed people.
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Old 02-23-2019, 10:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldGuy View Post
Certainly when I played hockey (a complete righty) I never considered anything but right hand low with my left side facing the net if I turned sideways for a shot. It was how I palyed baseball and golf. If someone had told me Canadians did it the other way I'd have thought they were kidding me.
Iíve only played field hockey but thatís the same with me. It never occurred to me to hold it in any other way. Right hand further down just like a baseball bat. The other way seems so odd to me.
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Old 02-25-2019, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Raygun99 View Post
There's supposedly something to the idea of having your dominant hand low on the stick for more control, vs. more power with dominant hand high, but I expect it's all about what you're comfortable with. I did read an article about how Canada has the highest proportion of left handed golfers in the world because it's a lot more common for Canadians to shoot lefty in hockey.
See post #5.

You've got it backwards. If you're dominate hand is a the top, you have more control and fine motor skills for puck handling, passing, shooting etc.. especially when having only one hand on your stick for poke checking, blocking passes/shots, etc.. If you're dominant hand is low, you have more power for shooting, passing, face-offs, etc..


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Originally Posted by Ike Witt View Post
Left handed shooters are not all necessarily left handed people.
Again, left-handed players would tend to shoot right, not left.

Many parents assume that since their child is right-handed they shoot right or which way they would bat in baseball. This is usually incorrect.

I do coach youth hockey. Kids are fast learners and can adapt very quickly and you want them to feel as comfortable as possible when learning puck skills.

I always advise new parents at the initiation level to buy sticks with no curve and let the player decide which is their "natural" shot. you'd be surprised how many can play holding their stick either way without even thinking about it. They will eventually settle on the one that best works for them once they have run through all the necessary skills.

There are a couple of tests you can try.

- Have them close their eyes, and think about something else, then hand them a hockey stick and see which way they instinctually reach out to grab it.

- Hand them a broom and have them start sweeping for 5 minutes or so. They should settle on a comfortable position with their hands in opposite grips and usually their dominant hand at the top.

Last edited by Sparky812; 02-25-2019 at 08:04 AM.
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Old 02-25-2019, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
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Again, left-handed players would tend to shoot right, not left.
Then I am backwards. I am right handed and I bat and shoot right.
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Old 02-25-2019, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Ike Witt View Post
Then I am backwards. I am right handed and I bat and shoot right.
Most likely you assumed that because you are right-handed and bat right, you would shoot right so you have adopted that grip. It may well be your "natural" shot but just not for those reasons.

Last edited by Sparky812; 02-25-2019 at 08:32 AM.
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Old 02-25-2019, 09:02 AM
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Don't forget that in a game you are often defending with only one hand on the stick - it's easier to have your dominant hand at the top to do that.
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Old 02-25-2019, 01:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
There is no advantage to shooting left versus right; it's just imitation, habit and custom, the way baseball catchers are all right handed for no real reason.
I would think that since most batters bat right-handed that having a right-handed catcher would be a major advantage for throwing to second base.

Speaking of which, where possible, isn't it also advantageous to have a left-handed first baseman for that tiny little stretch advantage?

Last edited by Leaffan; 02-25-2019 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 02-25-2019, 02:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leaffan View Post
Speaking of which, where possible, isn't it also advantageous to have a left-handed first baseman for that tiny little stretch advantage?
Traditionally, first basemen were more likely to be left-handed, though apparently that has seen a marked decline in recent decades.

Conversely, the vast majority of players at the other three infield positions are right-handed, due (as I understand it) to it being more awkward for a lefthander to field a ball and then get into position to throw in the direction of first base (which is to their left).

Last edited by kenobi 65; 02-25-2019 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 02-25-2019, 06:21 PM
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I’m thinking I held a hockey stick because I did it wrong. (Duh.) Nobody ever taught me how to really play.

But I see what you’re supposed to do and why. I would use both hand to move the stick around like you would a bat or golf club, or maybe a sword (I have some martial arts training). That’s totally wrong. The same way someone untrained in soccer will kick with their toe.

What I should have done was thought of the lower hand as the fulcrum of a lever. In that case the upper hand has all of the power and control. If I visualize it that way I naturally want my right hand high and left hand low.

Again, I’ve only played field hockey either in grade school or goofing around. Zero training, and no idea what I was doing.
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Old 02-28-2019, 02:04 PM
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I've never played hockey, but if I did, I couldn't imagine doing it with my left--non-dominant--hand low. On the other hand, my son--also right handed--played hockey for several years before he ever picked up a baseball bat. He was a left defenseman and when he picked up a baseball bat, it felt natural to him to bat left handed, which he did and still does. I don't know that he has ever golfed, but if he did, he would probably do that left-handed too.

It never occurred to me before reading this thread the probable explanation of his wrong-handed batting.
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Old 02-28-2019, 02:29 PM
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I would think that since most batters bat right-handed that having a right-handed catcher would be a major advantage for throwing to second base.
It is. Having your glove on the third base side also helps in tagging runners coming home, since you don't have to pivot as much to reach them. But mostly it's because pitchers are just used to seeing righty catchers.

Quote:
Speaking of which, where possible, isn't it also advantageous to have a left-handed first baseman for that tiny little stretch advantage?
Righty 1B's can stretch too. It's more about a lefty being better able to see where the other runners are when stretching for a throw. But the advantage is pretty small, and you'll pick your 1B based on his hitting ability rather than his handedness.

If most players were lefties, runners would circle the bases clockwise and righties couldn't play the infield or catch. But the game, as does much of life, favors righties, who can play any position in a counterclockwise game.

Last edited by ElvisL1ves; 02-28-2019 at 02:31 PM.
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Old 03-08-2019, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by RickJay View Post
There is no advantage to shooting left versus right; it's just imitation, habit and custom, the way baseball catchers are all right handed for no real reason.
I thought the reason was that in Little League, you want your kid with the best arm to pitch, and the kid with the second best arm to play catcher. But if you have a kid with a great arm who happens to be a lefty.... well, you're never going to stick him behind the plate, are you?

Also something something throwing around the batter to pick off a guy at second base, but that's always sounded a bit suspect to me.
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Old Yesterday, 04:12 PM
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I was talking to a golf pro. He said you would be amazed at the number of pro golfer who swing opposite of their dominant hand. (Lefties swing right, righties swing left.) He said that swinging that way gives you more control and helps to avoid slicing the ball. It also gives you more power for longer distance.

It's similar for hockey. Canadians like to teach their kids at an early age to shoot off-handed. Americans took longer to realize that off-handedness can be an advantage. It's counter-intuitive.
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Old Today, 07:07 AM
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Many cricketers who bat left handed are actually right handed as well.
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Old Today, 10:01 AM
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I was talking to a golf pro. He said you would be amazed at the number of pro golfer who swing opposite of their dominant hand. (Lefties swing right, righties swing left.) He said that swinging that way gives you more control and helps to avoid slicing the ball. It also gives you more power for longer distance.

It's similar for hockey. Canadians like to teach their kids at an early age to shoot off-handed. Americans took longer to realize that off-handedness can be an advantage. It's counter-intuitive.
American here. My dad taught me to swing a baseball bat left-handed due to the supposed advantage against right-handed pitchers. I also play hockey and golf left-handed. I throw a ball and write with a pen right-handed.

I would also argue I shovel snow (left hand closer to the scoop), rake (left hand lower on the broom), and swing an axe (left hand closer to the head) left-handed. Do right-handed golfers/batters/hockey players do these the opposite way?
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Old Today, 11:16 AM
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...
I would also argue I shovel snow (left hand closer to the scoop), rake (left hand lower on the broom), and swing an axe (left hand closer to the head) left-handed. Do right-handed golfers/batters/hockey players do these the opposite way?
Righty here, and I do it that way too. It's something to do with having your dominant hand in control. Same thing for hockey - I shoot left. And sometimes with these actions you let go of one hand and then it's much better to have dominant hand at the top.
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Old Today, 12:42 PM
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RickJay:

Quote:
the way baseball catchers are all right handed for no real reason.
There is a real reason. Since the large majority of batters are righties, a right-handed thrower will usually have a clear throw to second base, or back to the pitcher. A lefty would need to be careful not to hit a righty batter with a throw from behind the plate - not necessarily that difficult, but a difference-maker when trying to get off a quick throw to nail a base-stealer. Look at what happened in the 2015 division series between the Blue Jays and Rangers - the batter was a lefty, and the right-handed catcher hit his bat while throwing the ball back to the pitcher.
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Old Today, 01:00 PM
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Maybe I don't have a clearly dominate hand. I write right-handed but I shoot, bat and golf right-handed as well.

I do remember when I used to go to arcades as a kid having an issue with some games. If the game had the joystick for the right hand, I had to switch hands to play.
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