Before you even so much as think about playing hockey, you need to learn how to hold a hockey stick. It is one of the most fundamental skills in the game. If you do not know how to handle your stick, you will have absolutely no control over the puck or ball (depending on the type of hockey that you are playing). Luckily, learning how to hold a hockey stick is not too difficult.
Your dominant hand should always be the top hand on the stick. Your top hand should always be in front of your body. You must never hold the stick to the side of your body, as this will severely restrict your movement.
On this page, I want to go into a little bit more depth on the correct way to hold your stick. I also want to answer some of the more burning questions that people often have about holding and using hockey sticks.
How Do You Hold a Hockey Stick Properly?
As I said before, your dominant hand should always be at the top of the hockey stick. This is where the bulk of the stick movement is going to be. Your dominant hand will almost always be the same hand that you use for writing.
I know that some left-handed professional players use their right hand as the dominant hand. You can always try this out yourself. However, the chances are that it won’t feel quite right.
If you are playing field hockey, then you will have no choice but to use a stick designed for right-handed players. Left-handed sticks are banned in field hockey due to the danger that they present.
Once you have established what your dominant hand is, you can start to learn how to hold your hockey stick correctly.
Place Both Hands On The Hockey Stick
As I said, your right hand should be sitting on the top of the hockey stick. You can position your second hand wherever you feel most comfortable holding the stick. The chances are that you are going to be moving this hand about quite a bit when you are playing anyway. Your dominant hand will almost always remain in the same position, though.
Since you are holding the stick in a basic position, for now, you can place the second hand about two-thirds of the way up the stick. It should be around 6-8 inches away from your dominant hand.
Positioning the Stick
Once your hands are in place, it is time to move that hockey stick into the correct position.
You want your dominant hand to be in front of your body. Neither the stick nor your hand should be to the side of your hip.
If you have played hockey before without really thinking too much about stick control, then this position can feel a little bit uncomfortable. However, I can assure you that this position is going to be very important if you want full control over the hockey stick.
Can a Left-Handed Player Use a Right-Handed Hockey Stick?
Not really, If you are playing field hockey, then you don’t have that much a choice. However, if you are playing ice hockey, then you should always use a stick that matches up with your dominant hand.
Left-handed and right-handed hockey sticks have differently shaped curves. If you use it in the wrong hand, then you won’t have full control over the hockey stick. It can make fast plays very confusing, at least until you have a little bit of practice.
What Is The Best Way To Practice Hockey Stick Handling Skills?
You should be practicing how to use your hockey stick long before you hit the rink or field. If you are serious about playing hockey, then you should be practicing your puck handling skills almost every single day.
Your main focus should be ensuring that you can control the puck with the stick while it is close to your body. You should practice this from a standing position, but once you have nailed that, you can move onto a skating position.
All you need to do is flick the puck or ball from one side of the stick to the other. Just to show you how important hand positioning is, I recommend that you move your dominant hand to the side of your body just once. This will show you that you have a limited range of movement when you are trying to handle the puck.
During your practice sessions, you should also practice having the puck a little bit further away from your body. Try different distances, but the most important distance will be a stick length away. In this position, you will only have your dominant hand on the hockey stick. From this range, do the same as before and flick the puck/ball from one side of the stick to the other.
Honestly, if you can nail your stick handling skills like this, then everything else about hockey becomes so much easier.
Should You Have Both Hands On a Hockey Stick When You Shoot?
In hockey, successful shots are all about power. You need to be able to beat the opposing team’s goalie.
While you will probably have zero issues controlling the puck/ball with one hand, when you are taking a shot, you need to ensure that you have as much power behind it as possible. The only way to get a ton of power behind a shot is to use both arms.
Once again, your dominant hand must be in front of your body. Try and take a shot with your dominant hand by your hip, and we can almost guarantee you that the power that you can get like that will be a fraction of what you will be able to get with that dominant hand in front of you.
How Do You Handle a Hockey Stick When You Are Dribbling The Puck?
When you are dribbling with a puck, you should always do so with two hands on the stick. If you cannot reach the puck without having two hands on the stick, then that puck is not under your control. You will need to bring it under control as soon as possible.
To bring a wayward puck under your control, you will need to stretch out as far as you need to (you may need to have just one hand on your stick when you do this) and drag the puck toward you.
It may be worth skating up and down a rink trying to control a puck-like this. The more you practice, the less chance that puck is going to get into a position where you need to bring it back under control with a one-handed reach.
I highly recommend that you set up obstacles on the rink that you can skate around while trying to control the puck. It will teach you the proper hand positioning. Before you know it, holding that hockey stick while you are dribbling will become second nature.
How Do You Handle a Hockey Stick When You Are Tackling a Player?
Ideally, you should always try and tackle or intercept while you have two hands on the stick.
Tackling with two hands on the stick ensures that you have a lot more power. It will also be a whole lot easier to bring that puck under your control.
Of course, you can always intercept with one hand on your stick (always the dominant hand), but this is something that tends to be done when you are trying to nudge the puck away from the goal or perhaps trying to get it close to one of the players on your team.
Are Field Hockey Sticks And Ice Hockey Sticks Held In The Same Way?
Yes, While you are only able to use the flat side of a field hockey stick to control the ball, you will need to hold the stick in the same way as an ice hockey stick. This means that your dominant hand should be at the top of the stick.
The only real difference will come when you practice using a field hockey stick. Since you can’t practice by flicking the ball between both sides, you will need to do it on the move. This makes tremendous practice as the ball will be at varying distances from you, and you will need to practice getting that ball under control, even when you are moving quickly across the field.
Learning how to hold a hockey stick doesn’t need to be difficult. However, it is the most important thing that you can learn while playing hockey. All you need to remember is that your dominant hand will always be at the top of the stick. Your dominant hand must never leave this position. You should also remember that your hand should be in front of your body at all times. If the hand or stick is to the side of your hip, then you are holding the stick incorrectly.