First of all, props to Eric for coming up with this title and the idea to discuss this, that is, which finger to use for shooting.
I never really paid much attention to it, until last year when Justin Slater really got me thinking. For those that don't know, Justin switched shooting fingers, from the middle to the index, and had a lot of new-found success last season. Obviously his improvement was a result many factors other than the finger switch, but now I am beginning to wonder.
Does one finger provide an advantage over another?
I would also be interested to see the ratio of people who shoot with either finger. I am pretty sure there are more index shooters out there, but I wonder by how much.
In my opinion the finger you use does not matter. The key is to be consistant.
Justin Slater may say the index finger is the way to go. After switching from his middle finger to his index finger he elevated his game to the very top of the crokinole world. However, crokinole greats like Joe Fulop use the middle finger with great success. If I recall correctly, I even saw a Junior play in the Goderich Tournament (long time ago) with his thumb on the right hand. He was deadly with anything to his right, but had trouble with shots to his left.
The only real advantage of using your index finger would be that you can see the disc a little better when you are shooting. This may be some help to a few people, especially if you are a novice or casual player.
In my observation the majority of players that are new to the game start out by using the middle finger then
eventually switch to the index finger.
I sometimes use the middle finger for a triple or quadruple take out when a more powerful shot is required.
But for most finesse shots when more precision is needed the index finger takes over every time.
As someone mentioned it is probably due to better visibility, or is it because the thumb and index finger are
better companions (being side by side and all) ? or maybe it's because the index finger is closer to the brain?
An interesting addition to all of Joe Fulop's shots was the concept of spin, with the idea that a button was more likely to catch the 20 hole and fall in. I mention this because when you think about the structure of the hand on a crokinole board, shooting with the index allows for the finger to be perpendicular to the board, for what might produce a straighter shot. Whereas shooting with the middle requires the shooter to curl the hand to the side, allowing for spin to be added to the disc, but perhaps without the straightest shooting line.
I wonder if in that sense, the structure of the hand may lend an advantage from one finger to another.
Maybe we should investigate the success of those players too, lol.
New crokinole excuse for losing: "Well, I do shoot with my middle finger, so . . ."
I got a message from Joe Fulop wishing to weigh in on this subject. Joe shoots with his middle finger, others I can recall are: Nathan Walsh and Fred Slater (I'm sorry I didn't take note of exactly who the others at the recent Schneiderhaus Match were) They may be few, but they are mighty. Here's what Joe has to add:
"My Two Cents Worth"
Which finger one uses is up to the individual and as you said more players use their index fingers.
I grew up playing with my middle finger and thought it was the best way. It was better for me because I was able to get more power in my shots. It was better for having a controlled spin and it also allowed me to have a good arsenal of touch shots.
That does not make it better. I have watched several of the top index finger players. Obviously it is working for them. They seem to have a better touch when trying to make 20's and for short range carom shots. Some can shoot hard enough to follow through on the shot and to try for a 20. They can make the power shots but they seem to have less kick in the shots and may not be as successful as they want.
In the end you can use whatever style works for you.
Taking into account what Joe has mentioned, I originally shot with the middle finger believing that it would give me a harder shot and I believe it did, but I began to think that I would get more accuracy and more control over giving the shot exactly the power it needed, neither too hard not too soft, with my index finger. If anything, making the conscious switch maybe rid me of some bad habits and, with the good boards and discs available being so smooth, you don't need a lot of power or you'll find yourself shooting much harder than necessary more often than not.
I do find that if I try to really blast the disc it usually gets airborne once it makes contact with the first disc it hits or if it bounces off a peg. I wonder if the flick I give the disc with my index finger, more or less vertical, lifts the back of the disc as it speeds off and makes it unstable rather than travelling flat to the board. This might be less of a problem if you shoot at more of an angle which is easier to accomplish with the middle finger I would think.
... and then there's that 'spin' thing that Joe mentions quite often. You would definitely have to be brushing your finger along the disc to get that effect, something much more feasible to accomplish with the middle finger at an angle than with a straight up and down index finger.