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.
This article has been updated since its original publication.
Being a lefty myself, I'm always keen to read and watch more about the reasons why humans aren't split down the middle when it comes to hand dominance. Turns out science doesn't have a specific answer yet, but that doesn't mean we can't hear what the popular theories are and explanations as to how our brains, animals and even the universe, has its preferences for right and left.Read more