The Cackhand Thread

The Laochra Gael thread is gone off the charts with the back and forth between @Malarkey and @Dziekanowski. This thread is to simply log and discuss cackhand hurlers, their uniqness, their individuality, their awkwardness on the field of hurling. As a reformed cackhanded hurler it is my pleasure to start off this thread

P.S. If the above two posters want to bicker please continue elsewhere.


Princess Kate is cackhanded and a grip changer


That video proves conclusively that if you go Rhot for a right-handed person it’s the best swing on a hurl. Cackhand just is not reliable enough

I’m sure this person may have been pulling my leg many years ago

They said they were told by a new trainer the team had got (trainer from Kilkenny, Club was Wexford intermediate) then if pulling on the ball on the ground that try to use a “cack handed” grip

Anyone ever hear anything similar?

I’ve never heard of players being coached to strike on the ground cak handed. However i think cak hands may have an advantagr in controlling or dribbling the ball in tight spaces or rucks. Peter Kelly, Joe Deane and Taggy the dancer where all strong in this regard. Having your stronger hand halfway down the Hurley may give you more control in these tight situations. I don’t think it in anyway makes up for all the other disadvantages can handers have to deal with

Hurling is a game of instinct, touch and feel. Changing your natural grip removes the instinct part. A hurley should be like an extension of your body, manouevring it should feel effortless. If you try to follow through on something that at best will be mechanical, chances are the mechanics will malfunction.

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It sounds like something that might work if you tell a child when he’s 9 or 10 but surely by the time you get to intermediate it’s too late

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We had a ground hurling competition up to 3rd class. I did the most unGalway like thing and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by scoring two cackhanded goals in the last few minutes of the semi final.


Is it the equivalent of scoring with a toe jammer to win a soccer match?

They were things of beauty. The equaliser was the football equivalent of a toe poke and the winner the equivalent of it going in off my arse. We won the final too. Jaysus looking back now I’m all aglow reminiscing about my 15 minutes of fame in the school yard.


I’m just waiting for @Little_Lord_Fauntleroy

Did ye have a rule when playing at home that no toe jams were allowed? We had that because one of the older lads would put the ball out of shape :joy:

As someone who has coached hurling for twenty five years at all levels this is a topic that continues to fascinate me. I’m qualified to coach at any level and give coaching courses on a regular basis.

A few of my own thoughts on the subject. Terminology. “Cackhand” means different things to different people. To me it simply means having the wrong grip and nothing to do with being left-handed or right-handed. What does being left-handed / right-handed mean anyway - the hand you write with? I don’t think about it that way when it comes to hurling.
In hurling coaching terminology - as many coaches on here will know - the words used are “dominant hand” and “catching hand”. “Dominant hand” in sporting context does not automatically mean the hand you write with. For the vast majority it does - but there are exceptions.

Let me use my experience coaching kids to explain. When a child starts hurling for the first time they tend to hold the hurley and want to catch with the same hand. That is natural. Furthermore many will use a wrong grip which is actually more suited to the game they will play for a year or so at the beginning - ground hurling. The reason we develop dominant hand on top is to prepare for air hurling. Kids find that confusing and it is important coaches think about this - not to generalise but I have found quite often more intelligent 6-7 year olds will keep reverting to the wrong grip - these are the kids that explain to me why the way they are holding the hurley is better suited to the game - ground hurling in their heads. They are right. It is basically hockey and a hockey team will destroy a hurling team on the ground in large part due to technique. The shinty games are an interesting watch in this aspect.
So…don’t ask the kid what hand do they write with. Find out their dominant sporting hand. Start off the first 2 months sessions in academy playing tennis drills with both hands - it becomes clear very quickly which is the dominant sporting hand. And interestingly - you will find some exceptions to the hand they hold a pen with. The kids then need to have hurling explained to them so they know why they need to catch in the other hand. The “dominant hand” and the “catching hand” are thus noted for all kids…and that is the beginning of developing the eventual beautiful feeling of executing hurling skills in the most efficient manner.
I coach football also and that makes for a far better comparison point also that whatever hand someone writes with. How easy does a kid take to kicking with both feet? Those kids that kick well off both feet early are often confused starting hurling as they can possibly learn with either hand as dominant. The choice is not clearcut for them. But they are gems if developed properly.

And all of this is equally relevant to coaching adults at the highest levels. The majority have dominant hand on top - lots of different styles of course but they are all executing the skills of the game (>25 core skills) correctly.
In my own case my dominant hurling hand is my right hand but I will strike off either side as suits the situation. Or used to! I hit frees off my right but could point a 65 off my left. Any decent club senior could do that in training. I always trained hitting line balls off right side and left side - but would always use right side in a game.
Playing football I kicked off both feet, with my right only marginally stronger.

An interesting exercise is trying to correct kids around fourteen and even adults with wrong grips. An exercise that I use is playing one handed hurling games - no catching. Start with ball wall - one handed hit and trap to get touch in. Then onto pitch 7 aside including air hurling. When lads have to pick solo and strike while being marked they all position the dominant hand correctly and indeed the swing is not far off a correct two handed swing arc and trajectory. The focus then switches to the players to be corrected - switch game to two hands, no catching and the few to correct attempt the correct grip - it is a slow process but if they can become convinced of the benefits of changing there is a good chance they might do the individual work required.

By the way, the photo of Deane striking on the other thread is perfect technique - the photo caught the point where catching hand reaches back over the dominant hand. Identical to Henry Shefflin striking from the opposite side of the pitch. Just a different dominant hands. The idea of striking off left side or right side for me is not a significant point of a discussion about grip - all accomplished hurlers should be competent off both sides. That is a style question and something that players that lack pace tend to use more effectively to compensate.
I hated marking right-handers who preferred striking off their left side - if you commit to the hook the good ones drift infield and you’re gone.
I love coaching but really miss playing - the smell of fresh cut grass this evening was something.


@Little_Lord_Fauntleroy :grinning:

What are you doing in here Tim?

I thought this was a thread about lefties


:grinning: :grinning: :grinning:

If you write with your left hand but have rhot does not mean you are cackhand. Cackhand is for a right handed player, catching the ball with you left hand, hitting off your right with lhot. Walter Walsh is cackhand. It means he’s very awkward off his left - throw underneath with you left then lhot, awks

I have to disagree. Whatever the terms or the shorthand used, there needs to be a distinction between someone who grips with their weaker wrist all the time and someone who switches grip when striking. One has to be ‘grip changer’, because swapping grip is the action’s pivot, which means ‘cack hander’ cannot be used – and so we are better reserving ‘cack hander’ for the other situation.

There you have it now. Not only are these spud hockey players just belting a ball inanely up and down a large field, but an alarming amount of them seem to have no idea how to even hold the stick either.