Violins, cameras, computer mice, can openers – these are just a few examples from a long list where today’s left-handers are significantly discriminated against compared to the majority of right-handers.
However, the realities of everyday life often have little to do with sports. The minority, which falls short in many practical areas, often dominate in the world of goals, points and seconds. Examples are more than enough. Tennis players Rafael Nadal and Martina Navrátilová or boxer Oscar de la Hoya were unforgettable champions that history will never forget.
“Playing against a left-hander is never easy. Maybe even in the 1st round of the tournament against a weaker opponent,” once declared legendary Swiss tennis player Roger Federer.
Baseball is perfect for left-handers
Why is it like that?
Scientists think they have finally found the right answer. The American journal Biology Letter published a study showing that left-handers have a particular advantage in sports where success depends on quick decision-making and reactions. Tennis, table tennis, cricket, but especially baseball would be ideal for these people.
“These data indicate to us that the greater the time pressure, the greater the proportion of left-handed players in a given sport,” said Dr. Florian Loffing of the University of Oldenburg, Germany, who developed the research. “Right-handers are not used to playing against left-handers, their fighting strategy is not prepared for this. That is also the reason why they often cannot compete with them,” the scientist thinks.
There are usually 10 to 13 percent of left-handers in society, but there are sports in which their proportion is significantly higher. To prove his point, Loffing collected the top 100 athletes in badminton, squash, table tennis, tennis, cricket and baseball between 2009 and 2014.
The result? In the traditional American sport – baseball, up to 30 percent are left-handed. Of these, only 13 percent are in badminton players, 8.9 percent in squash. This would coincide with the fact that players in baseball are under the greatest time pressure. The bottom line – in sports where the room for decision making is narrowest, there are two and a half times more left-handers than usual.
Loffing’s research results are even supported by medical knowledge. This hypothesis assumes that left-handed athletes may benefit from, for example, the fact that the right hemisphere is responsible for both dominant hands and spatial-visual awareness.
Leftists are warriors, not pacifists
Left-handed people have been part of society for thousands of years. Their share is always the same, just over 10 percent. “From a Darwinian perspective, being left-handed may seem wrong. But then I wonder why they never disappeared for good? Why aren’t only right-handed people living in this world?” Loffing wonders.
In 1996, a team of French experts stated that left-handers have a physical advantage in combat. This idea was supported, among other things, by the fact that, in contrast to the pacifist group, the proportion of leftists in traditionally violent and insurgent groups was significantly higher.
Loffing is convinced that this aspect is one of the decisive ones. His latest research suggests that leftists mainly profit from their opponent’s ignorance. And it’s said to escalate if the other party doesn’t have enough time to make the right decision. “After all, we know that things like anticipating and deciding are considerably more difficult under time pressure,” he says.
Chris McManus, professor of psychology at the University of London, confirmed these conclusions. “All this, however, only applies to top sport. “Lefters have no advantage in playing recreationally,” he thinks.
In previous studies, Loffing has shown that athletes can neutralize the left-handed advantage through training. “However, it would be interesting to find out if there is a certain time threshold above which it would be extremely difficult for a right-handed player to resist a left-handed opponent,” he hints at an interesting idea. “I mean the thresholds where it really pays to be left-handed,” he concludes.