Are Left-Handers Better At Sports?

Image: Marianne Bevis / Flickr

Being left-handed, I'm keenly aware when something isn't friendly to the 10 per cent, so to speak. Fortunately, it's not so bad these days, but when faced with scissors, old can-openers and even writing with a pen, you're reminded that your view of the world is a bit different. But does that difference provide any advantages? Sport, for example, is one area that comes up in these discussions.

A new study by Florian Loffing at the University of Kassel's Institute of Sports and Sports Sciences in Germany suggests left-handers may have an edge in sports with high time pressure. At the very least, left-handers are more common in such sports, including baseball and table tennis and are even over-represented at elite levels.

One common theory put forward is that right-handers aren't used to playing against left-handers, while the opposite is true for lefties, so sports with high time pressures provide right-handers with less time to adapt.

However, rather than providing lefties with a benefit, the over-representation could work against them, as Loffing explains:

This indicates that relative rarity and the interactive nature of a contest are not sufficient per se to evoke a left-hander advantage. Refining the fighting hypothesis is suggested to facilitate prediction and experimental verification of when and why negative frequency-dependent selection may benefit left-handedness.

The research provides a good starting point for further experimentation, as Loffing concludes, but in the meantime left-handers might want to stick with table tennis... unless everyone at your local club is left-handed too.

Left-handedness and time pressure in elite interactive ball games [The Royal Society]


    the reason leftys are preferred in baseball is because it means you have a shorter run from home to 1st base after a hit. its not by much, but it can make all the difference in a quick play.
    i tend to be a bit of both with sport. gold i can play either way, but feel more natural on my left. frisbee i throw with my right, but throwing or kicking a ball, i do with my left. i usually bat left handed but can muddle a right hander to confuse people. racquet sports i play both hands, left for power, right for control. its an interesting study for sure.

    I'm a lefty, but I have the added benefit of being ambidextrous with a lot of things, so I really get to fuck with people's heads come sports time by switching hands!

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