Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in this scenario. Your brand new soon-to-be hockey playing child needs a hockey stick but you have no idea if your darling is a left-handed shot or a right-handed shot. It’s his or her first ice session and you have everything except for the stick. Never mind the choices like flex, and the material choice of composite vs wood. The most immediate choice is left or right. You can do what I did and just find a straight blade for your hockey newbie and it makes sense to do that if you aren’t sure. You may not find one or you want your cub to be ready to go with the correct blade from day 1. So what do you choose? How can left or right be so difficult?
The first thing to ask about your child is, ‘what is their dominant hand?’ If, for example, you feel like their most dominant hand is right you probably should choose a left-handed stick. If the dominant hand is at the top of the stick it will do most of the controlling of the stick when stickhandling. Hockey players spend far more time stickhandling than they do shooting so having their dominant hand at the top of the stick makes a lot of sense. While most Canadians are right hand dominant most Canadian hockey players shoot left.
Some people will put their dominant hand lower on the shaft of the stick because they feel it makes them stronger. This is true, but it will sacrifice their ability to stickhandle - especially early in their hockey years. Most Americans are right hand dominant, but they shoot right handed. This is not a strategic choice, but one made because hockey isn’t the first sport for most Americans. Baseball has this distinction and when a batter steps into the batter’s box to face the pitcher he or she usually has their dominant hand on top of their less dominant hand to swing the bat. When they switch to hockey this puts their right hand lower on the shaft. For this reason most Americans shoot right-handed in hockey.
The final choice will be with your young one. As long as they choose a way to shoot and carry their stick around properly on and off the ice, and play with the puck or ball they will learn to stickhandle and shoot no matter which hand they put on top of the stick. The important decision is the first one. Pick it and stick with it – pun intended.