May 16, 2019

One-Handed Quandary

This past hockey season I was given a new name. Apparently, "Tommy O" wasn't meeting an unwritten requirement that I needed a nickname. 

For years it had served me well to personify me as a hockey player, artist, pastor, and my youthful disposition. And it also simplified things as some people struggle to pronounce my last name.

The newest name given to me by numerous players is "Tommy One-Hand". Although given to me by teammates, I knew that it had stuck when players from the opposing team called out this to me as I skated past their bench.

"Tommy One-Hand" is making reference to the fact that I have a 'bad habit' of sometimes  (usually) having only one hand on my hockey stick instead of keeping two on it at all times.

I tried to dismiss this by saying that even Bobby Orr sometimes skated coast to coast with the puck using only one hand on his stick. They responded; "Yeah, but then he scored a goal!", dismissing my logic.

The only reason it is a problem for other players is because they believe that "two hands on the stick" is the only way to play. Most of them had this drilled into their heads by coaches who also deeply shouted this mantra to their players.

I'm not sure when I started doing this, but I know that it helps me reach my stick out further in an attempt to steal a puck from another opposing player. One hand on the stick allows freedom of movement and speed; even in close quarters. 

I find that this way I can use a shorter stick when playing forward and still poke at a puck, instead of using a longer stick (which I use when playing defense). 

So, it really is debatable whether using one hand vs two hands is a 'bad habit' or not.

Even Laura Stamm (power skating coach from New York) agrees with me; 
"For 27 years I have been battling hockey people who maintain, Two Hands on the Stick, Two Hands on the Stick. The battle still looms large, because too many coaches still teach players to keep two hands on the stick at all times. Wrong! For one thing, the stick belongs on the ice, where the puck is. Secondly, by keeping both hands on the stick, players are forced to swing the stick high in the air, and from side to side (pitching hay) when skating fast." (

I know that they are correct and that working on my stick handling would improve my skills. Or at least would help them feel better. 

But, as I said, it is a long habit that is ingrained in my game. And habits can be hard to break; even if one knows that doing so would (could) improve things in their life.

Some say that it takes twenty one to thirty days to break a habit. And that it takes at least sixty six days to form a new habit to replace the old.

So what do we do with other habits that are debatable on whether or not there is need to change them? Habits such as going to bed early or staying up late? 

Habits of what to eat or not to eat? Or what to drink or not drink? Or whether coffee should have cream or not? Or Tea should be sweetened or not? And whether or not it should be caffeinated or not caffeinated; as well as how naturally they should be processed?

Habits such as where to place your hands on the steering wheel? And how many hands should be on the wheel?

Habits regarding how quickly or slowly you are supposed to go up and down stairs? 

Habits of whether or not you should cut your grass? Or how often you should cut it if you are so inclined to do so?

Habits of whether you hold a door open for someone?

Habits such as whether or not you use a spoon and fork or just a fork to eat pasta? Or whether you put catsup or ketchup on your fries or just mustard on your hotdog?

Habits such as whether or not you have to cheer for the home-team or can you go with one that is from a state you don't live in or have never even visited?

Habits such as washing dishes as you cook or after the meal?

Habits such as whether or not you fold up your newspaper after reading it; placing it back in the correct order? Or if it's even OK to read the news in printed form, or does it have to be online? How about printed books vs tablets?

Have you realized yet that many habits we have are really simply preferences; based upon what was drilled into your head by your "coaches"?

The Apostle Paul addressed this in the fourteenth chapter of Romans. He had observed that many people were divided on what was acceptable regarding their diets. He addresses it head on and doesn't state which diet is the correct one to follow.

He isn't talking about the sin of what they ate, but the sin in judging someone else for what they did or didn't do. He's trying to get them to obtain a new habit of allowing others to have habits that may be different from theirs; knowing that each of us will give an account to the ONLY One whose opinion really matters.

Paul wrote; 
"So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way." (Romans 14:12-13)

Although Paul was specifically giving instruction regarding food, his instruction can be applied regarding how we accept differences or preferences or habits of others. Again, Paul isn't talking about sin, but preferences. Yes, it is Ok to challenge habits that are sinful.

Paul wrote:
"Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another." (Romans 14:19)

Let's give each other the freedom to keep only one hand on the stick if they so desire.

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