Why do right-handed people become left-shooting hockey players?

Left-Handed Shots in Hockey (and of course they got the story wrong) - Behind The Net

There was a piece in the San Jose Mercury News yesterday on left-handed shots in hockey. Some insight:

"Left-shot players far outnumber their right-shot counterparts. That disparity is especially seen among defensemen. "You can't help but notice," said Jason Demers, a right-shot Sharks defenseman. "But I have no idea why. Nobody knows for sure, but it's weird." It gets even weirder. Canadian and European hockey players tend to be left shot while more Americans are right shot. "I wish I had a good reason for why that is," said Mike Mountain, director of sticks and blades at Van Nuys-based Easton Sports. "But the reason there are more left-shot players in the NHL is because there are more from Canada and international markets than from the U.S.""

Except...It's not true. [...] Europeans are much more likely to be left-handed shots than Canadians and Americans - who each shoot left in the same proportion. [...] [D]efensemen are no more or less likely to shoot left-handed than centers: [...] I have noticed that among players who picked up the game in the US later in life, there are many more right-handed shots - most likely because right-handed people play right-handed in golf and baseball. But if you start playing hockey when [you're little], it's most likely that your coach will put a left-handed stick in your hands and you'll learn to play that way.

I am right-handed and a left-shot. I catch (a baseball, for instance) with my left hand. I throw with my right. It always made sense to me to shoot left because my strong hand (right) held the top of the stick, leaving (for example) my left hand to catch pucks or annoy people or whatever else it needed to do. I don't remember making a conscious decision to shoot this way or that way; I just picked up a stick and that was the way I did it. I probably didn't even know there was a left or right at the time.

If I had to guess, I would guess that the reason some right-handed people become right-shots is that parents buy them their equipment and just assume the kid shoots right because he's right handed. And some become right-shots because their brothers or sisters are right shots and they steal/borrow/inherit their sticks. And of course there used to be a strong prejudice against left-handedness (it being a sign of the devil and all), which caused a lot of parents to force their children to be right-handed despite their natural inclination. I wouldn't be surprised if that influenced parents as well.

This is a half-baked theory if ever there was one. Feel free to chime in.

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