Why the top hand is the most important when holding a hockey stick

The top hand provides range, control, reach, and some non-obvious power.

Did you know that roughly 90% of the world population is right-handed while only 10% is left-handed? And did you know that the NHL breaks down to be about 60%-65% left-shots and about 35%-40% right-shots?

Even at the amateur level in Canada you’ll see hockey stick sales ranging around that 65% left-shot to 35% right-shot. Meanwhile in the USA that ratio is flipped where stick sales are 65% right-shot to 35% left-shot.

While choosing handedness is a never ending debate, there is no question the top hand is the most important on the stick. You’ve heard the top hand is the most important… Let’s dig into why.

Hand placement

Hockey players have two contact points with the stick — their top hand and their bottom hand. Both perform different functions for stick skills and shooting. The top hand provides range, control, reach, and some non-obvious power. While the bottom hand provides stability and power.

Given their roles the bottom hand is often referred to as the power hand while the top hand is the control/finesse hand. Therefore, conventional wisdom says that if players have their dominant hand as their bottom hand tend to be better shooters because their dominant hand is on the power part of their stick. Meanwhile if a player has their dominant hand as their top hand tend to have better stick skills, such as puck handling and passing.

Top hand importance

The top hand controls the stick and controls the turning of the stick blade, allowing the blade to cup the puck to keep it flat and manageable. This is also vital during shooting as players control where they shoot. If the blade is open it will be high in the net and if the blade is closed, it will go low. This is directly controlled by the top hand. At the very end we will go over an advanced technique that is driven by the top hand and allows players to have more time where the blade is touching the puck and less time in the air.

Another key element is for shooting. Powerful shooting involves yanking the top hand back. The top hand creates the most important part of the lever, the farthest point. (For the science nerds out there…Work is the force times the distance, W = Fd). 

This is why taller players have historically dominated the hardest shot competition in professional hockey.

The top hand provides range, control, reach, and some non-obvious power . . .



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Greg Revak

Greg Revak is a Certified Level 4 USA Hockey Coach. You can find him on Twitter @CoachRevak. or sign up for his Hockey IQ Newsletter.

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