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The Ins and Outs of Playing on the Left and Right Side

In his mailbag on Tuesday, Dan P. from The Cannon fielded a question from jkcpwilkin regarding which left handed shots will be playing on the right side, either as right wingers, or as right defensemen. Dan P. did a good job of catching a lot of the elements of playing the off-side, but after a couple hints in the article and a conversation on Twitter, I decided to delve deep into all the finer points of playing on the right side versus the left side.

The major difference, and one not commonly thought of is how your body opens to the play and your range of vision. Let’s do a little exercise. Stand parallel to the nearest wall you can find, with your right shoulder about a foot away from it. Pretend you are holding a hockey stick (with two hands) and bend over and place the imaginary stick on the imaginary ice. Now look at the angle of your shoulders. Those who shoot right will be opened up slightly away from the wall, making it very easy to see everything in that direction. Lefties will have their shoulders angled towards the wall, and to open their range of vision they either need to look over their shoulder, drop one hand off their stick, or turn their shoulders to the opposite angle (which would put the blade of the stick behind them). When learning to play the game this is a huge difference, and for a player not comfortable on their off-side it could force them to have to think about everything they do, as opposed to just reacting. Now onto the specifics of hows the off-side impacts forwards and defensemen.

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