Left-of-center vs. right-of-center

Before 2012, I thought that most shots should be struck from center-table so that unders have acute angles. There is merit to this approach, but my view has changed. In this article I discuss the pros and cons of attacking from each side of the table with video examples of top players. First a definition of left-of-center (LOC) and right-of-center (ROC), then a look at the offensive strike zone.

Definition of LOC and ROC

LOC refers to the table’s left side and ROC refers to the opposite. More specifically, LOC ranges from five inches outside the goal’s left edge to one inch inside, while ROC ranges from five inches outside the goal’s right edge to one inch inside.

Strike Zones

Shots should generally not be struck outside of the above zone (highlighted in blue) because the difference in straights and banks off the near-rail is negligible; banks off the far-rail are overly difficult and travel too far.

Pros and cons

Below are four short videos of top players who are experts at groups of shots from LOC and ROC. Beneath each video are pros and cons for that particular strike point/group of shots.

ROC: Cut, right-wall-under/over

Pedro Otero (left side) executes a grouping of cuts and right-walls from ROC: Cut, right-wall-over, cut, right-wall-under, and then right-wall-over.

Pros

  • Cut: More deception because the strike point normally indicates a right-wall
  • Right-wall-under: Shorter distance to goal, improved accuracy, and can handle more velocity without leaving the table because the puck impacts the rail at an obtuse angle
  • Right-wall-over: Shorter distance to goal, improved accuracy, and the obtuse angle means a wider margin of error

Cons

  • Cut: More difficult
  • Right-wall-under: Less deception, more obtuse angle – the defense does not have to pull as far to block it
  • Right-wall-over: Less deception

LOC: Cut, right-wall-under/over

Danny Hynes (right side) executes a grouping of cuts and right-walls from LOC: Right-wall-under, right-wall-over, cut, and then another cut.

Pros

  • Cut: Shorter distance to goal, improved accuracy, potential to capitalize on the defense not recentering
  • Right-wall-under: More deception and more acute angle – the defense must pull further to block it
  • Right-wall-over: More deception

Cons

  • Cut: Less deception
  • Right-wall-under: Less accuracy, difficult to execute, the puck travels further which means that the defense has more time to react, and the puck is more likely to leave the table when it impacts the rail because of the acute angle
  • Right-wall-over: Same as right-wall-under above

LOC: Cross, left-wall-under/over

Billy Stubbs (yours truly on the left side) executes a grouping of crosses and left-walls from LOC: Left-wall-over, cross, and then left-wall-under.

Pros

  • Cross: More deception because the strike point normally indicates a left-wall
  • Left-wall-under: Shorter distance to goal, improved accuracy, and can handle more velocity without leaving the table because the puck impacts the rail at an obtuse angle
  • Left-wall-over: Shorter distance to goal, improved accuracy, and the obtuse angle means a wider margin of error

Cons

  • Cross: More difficult
  • Left-wall-under: Less deception, more obtuse angle – the defense does not have to pull as far to block it
  • Left-wall-over: Less deception

ROC: Cross, left-wall-under/over

Jose Mora (left side) executes a grouping of crosses and left-walls from ROC: Left-wall-over, cross, cross, and then left-wall-under.

Pros

  • Cross: Shorter distance to goal, improved accuracy, potential to capitalize on the defense not recentering
  • Left-wall-under: More deception and more acute angle – the defense must pull further to block it
  • Left-wall-over: More deception

Cons

  • Cross: Less deception
  • Left-wall-under: Less accuracy, difficult to execute, the puck travels further which means that the defense has more time to react, and the puck is more likely to leave the table when it impacts the rail because of the acute angle
  • Left-wall-over: Same as left-wall-under above

A shot location/grouping with more pros than cons does not mean that it is better. For example, deceptive banks might be the most important consideration for offenses that lack power.

The best attack is the right attack

In my opinion cuts and right-walls from ROC, and crosses and left-walls from LOC are more effective in general because of the deception gained on straights and the additional velocity that banks can hold. However against a defense that does not recenter properly I am more likely to use cuts and right-walls from LOC and/or crosses and left-walls from ROC. Your opponent’s defense and your strengths will dictate which approach is best.

*This article is written from a right-hander’s perspective, mirror the information if you are left-handed.

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