The first question you'll probably ask yourself when you first consider playing hockey is, "Should I shoot left or right handed?" The answer is… probably left handed. Why? Approximately 90% of the world's population is right handed and most likely you are too. If you are left handed, just flip everything in this article around. There's some debate over the subject of choosing which way to hold a hockey stick, but we'll cover as many angles as possible so you can make an informed decision for yourself.
Dominant hand on top
Why would you want your stronger, more coordinated hand on top, you ask? Your top hand is the one that "anchors" and stabilizes your stick as your puck handling, shooting and passing, skills that require excellent coordination and control. Yes, it would seem advantageous to have your strong hand on the bottom so you could use it to generate more shot power. But even if you could add 10 mph to your shot, hypothetically speaking, would it be worth it if it was at the expense of your shot accuracy and puck control skills? Nope.
Let's assume for a moment that the dominant hand on the bottom actually creates a more powerful shot, since that seems to be a popular argument, regardless of its validity. As previously stated, the top hand is the anchor hand that stabilizes the stick as the bottom hand initiates maneuvers. So with that in mind, consider the difficult challenge of training your sub-dominant hand to become as coordinated as your dominant hand. Have you ever tried writing with your sub-dominant hand? Probably pretty sloppy, right?
The point is that it's much more difficult to improve coordination than it is to build strength. So use your most coordinated hand in the position where the greatest amount of coordination is required – on top. And strengthen your bottom hand and arm in order to increase your shot power.
What does baseball have to do with it?
In the USA, most kids play baseball at some point during childhood. And, as stated previously, most people are right handed and therefore most people catch with their left hand and throw with their right hand. That's why most goalies catch with their left hand and hold the stick in their right hand (left hand curve).
Forget about which way you swing a baseball bat though because the motion doesn't even vaguely resemble the way that you swing a hockey stick; at least, it shouldn't. This is where most players and parents make a mistake. "If Johnny plays baseball right handed then he must play hockey right handed too." This is flawed reasoning and doesn't account for the major mechanical differences involved in swinging a hockey stick and a baseball bat.
The bottom line is you shouldn't assume that just because you bat right handed that you should automatically play hockey right handed also. The same can be said about golf. Oddly enough, most left handed hockey players play golf right handed. And hockey players are some of the best golfers out there… Go figure.
Which way feels more comfortable?
There's definitely something to be said for the "natural" proclivities of a beginner when he or she picks up a hockey stick for the first time. It's best to allow a child to develop his or her motor skills in an objective way by observing their natural inclinations. Eventually, as a parent you're able to determine which hand is their dominant hand, which they'll use when writing or throwing a ball.
When it comes to playing hockey, it's not quite so simple because the question must be asked – how does someone who's never held a hockey stick know what they're looking for in the first place? The answer is… they don't.
The Broom Stick Test
There's a simple test that can be done in order to factor in the "natural", hockey-stick-holding tendencies of a beginner hockey player. Keep in mind, this is not a fool proof test and it's only to be used as a secondary guideline for determining your handedness. Pick up a kitchen broom and start sweeping. Most likely your hands will be facing opposite directions. This isn't the way you hold a hockey stick, but nonetheless the end goal is still accomplished. If you're right hand dominant, most likely your right hand will be at the top of the broom stick and your left hand will be in the middle. Whatever the case, you should most likely hold the hockey stick the same way you hold the broom.