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Wednesday, June 19
The Indiana Daily Student

sports field hockey

Field hockey rules keep IU player from using dominant hand

IU sophomore forward Maddie Latino tries to get around a Northwestern defender in the game on Oct. 27 at IU Field Hockey Complex. Despite being forced to use a right-handed stick, left-handed Latino has helped the Hoosiers by dominating the left side of the field.

In some sports, being left handed is beneficial. Southpaws in baseball are able to deceive a right-handed hitter by hiding the ball longer on their delivery or by creating a great break on their pitches that lock up a righty 
compared to a lefty.

However in field hockey, left-handed players need to conform to the right side, as left-handed field hockey sticks are illegal among the rules of the International Hockey 
Federation.

According to livestrong.com, left-handed sticks were banned to create safer play among the game. Officials ruled that players with left-handed sticks were more likely to get hit on the follow through of the opponent’s swing when trying to tackle them.

In field hockey, a player can only use the flat side of the stick, which forces a player to twist the stick around when dribbling down the field.

IU sophomore forward Maddie Latino is left-hand dominant, and when she began playing field hockey, she needed to make the switch to the right side.

“I don’t think it was difficult to use a right-handed stick,” Latino said. “It’s really easy for me to dribble with one hand on my left side because you normally hold your left hand at the top of the stick.”

When holding a field hockey stick, the player places their right hand at the bottom of the shaft to guide the stick and their left hand at the top to dribble. As a natural lefty, Latino she said this serves as an advantage for her when dribbling.

“It definitely helps me out on the field I think,” Latino said. “Just dribbling with my left hand, I’m stronger with my left hand, and it’s at the top of the stick. Your right hand just basically controls where you’re going with it and your left hand helps when you’re guiding the stick.”

Because there are only right-handed sticks in the game, the strong side in a field hockey game is the right side of the field. Latino has been able to take advantage of being able to attack the left side this season, as she leads the team in scoring with nine goals.

“The left side is considered the weaker side of the field,” Latino said. “But for me it’s almost just as good as the right side.”

Although Latino handled the transition to the right hand side rather seamlessly, others may be a little startled when finding out about the no-lefty rule in field hockey.

Sophomore forward Abby Urbanek grew up batting left-handed when she played softball as a child. When she started playing field hockey, she prematurely asked for a left-handed stick to find out quickly that there is no such thing.

“It was difficult switching since I was used to having a bat or stick on the left side of my body, but I think batting left-handed helped me with my reverse in field hockey,” Urbanek said. “I’m much more comfortable carrying the ball down the left side of the field on my reverse stick than my right side.”

However, there is one player in the NCAA that has broken the barrier and decided to play left-handed.

Michigan’s Carly Bennett grew up using a left-handed stick while playing ice hockey in Rhode Island. The Hoosiers faced off against her earlier in the season when they played Michigan. Bennett recorded the assist on the game-winning goal in the Wolverines 2-1 victory Oct. 4.

Bennett still uses a right-handed stick, but plays with it on the left side of her body, placing her right hand on the top of the stick and her left hand at the bottom.

The redshirt sophomore confused her opponents during her freshman season by scoring four goals and tallying five assists.

This season she’s started all but one game and has 
recorded two assists.

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