Originally posted by hofer36:
im new to hockey but it is a great exciting game...one question for those who know the game...i hear announcers say a player is left hand shooter or a right hand shooter and i presume it is equivalent to baseball--are some players equally adept from either side (switchhitters if you will)?
No, it would be too impractical to train.
A hockey stick has a blade (the bottom) that curves to make an inward concave. If I'm a right hand shot, the toe of the stick (the very tip) curves to the left. This creates a pocket that players use to handle the puck, and its also how you generate a shot. The 2 main ways a puck is shot is with the flex of the stick and the curve. When you shoot a puck, your lower hand and top hand go opposite directions to bend/flex the stick. This way when the puck leaves the stick, it creates a whiplash effect as the stick flexes back to straight.
The curve on the stick (the very bottom of the stick) also helps create the shot. The puck usually rests on the heel of the blade (the base of where the bottom connects the shaft) and during the shot process rolls from heel to toe. This generates spin on the puck, similar to baseball the spin creates velocity.
There are rules to the curve on the stick to limit how much of an angle you have. Too much angle and the shot is more powerful, but with less aim. Players choose the flex based on their preferred shot and how they want to handle the puck. For example, a Center wants to emphasize passing and so typically picks a curve with less angle, which is generally better for passing and puck handling. A winger who is a goal scorer wants a lot of curve to emphasize a wrist shot typically (3 types of shots; slap shot which has the big wind up, wrist shot has a medium wind up, snap shot is quickest. Also a backhand shot which is very different to form).
For flex, players typically play with around 100 - to - 120 flex. The higher the flex rating, the more stiff. The lower the flex, the more flexible and easier to bend. More flex typically creates more shot, but there is a "sweet spot" of flex based your size strength. For example, if you are a 6-4 240lbs guy with a 60 flex stick, your stick will snap as you bend it in a shot because it can't take the maximum amount of power you put on it.
I'm 5'7 and the best flex for me is an 80 flex which is pretty low.
The possible benefit for switching from left hand to right hand is typically you want to play "opposite your hand" for scoring purposes. For example, a right hand shot wants to play Left Wing for better scoring, because when you are shooting on the goalie you have a better angle to score from (your shot would be coming from closer to the middle of the ice, generating more possible angles to score from). However, playing opposite your hand also means you have to catch passes on your back hand more often which is very difficult.
You will see players normally playing their strong side (left hand plays Left Wing) but then switch to opposite (left hand plays right wing) while on the Power Play to emphasize scoring.
Also, countries typically have different training methods. For example in Canada, they train youngsters to have their dominant hand as the top hand on the stick. In the US typically you are taught to use your dominant hand as the bottom hand.
[ Edited by SunDevilNiner79 on Jul 15, 2013 at 10:57 PM ]