• Left-handed cricketer Lauren Cheatle (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Left-handed people only make up 5 per cent of the population, but certainly make their mark when playing sports. Many athletes' southpaw dominance gives them advantage on the field, in the court and even in the surf.
By
Sophie Verass

24 Jun 2016 - 3:00 PM  UPDATED 29 Jun 2016 - 9:33 AM

The New York 'Buffalo Sabres' in the U.S' National Hockey League (Ice Hockey) is specifically looking to recruit a left-handed defender. The team's General Manager, Tim Murray stated that the club will consider doing a trade for a “top-end, young, left-shot defensemen” in order to complement their current right-handed defender. 

This the third time left-handedness has made sports news this week, as US star baseballer, Michael A. Taylor was reported to start batting against left-handed pitching, and Formula One’s route in Baku city is a left-handed circuit.

Aside from having different scissors, getting pen ink on your hand and generally, being so distinct from the rest of society you need an International Day, being left-handed has some great advantages - particularly in the sports arena.

Some of the world’s best athletes, bowl, bat and kick with left dominance including, Ronda Rousey, Monica Seles and goofy-footed snowboarder, Chloe Kim. Also joining them 'left of the field' is some of Australia’s highest achievers. 

Tennis

Playing left-handed in tennis is an asset and probably why the sport is so popular among leftys, making up 10 per cents of its players.

When a left-hander serves on the advantage side of the court, they can slice serve the ball out wide to the right-hand opponents' backhand, a much harder place to strike with force. A left-handed player can also put spin on the ball at an angle that right-handed players aren't accustom to. 

Casey Dellacqua, 4th Australian Ranking

Storm Sanders, 7th Australian Ranking

Baseball

Left-handed pitching can be helpful in baseball, as few batters are used to hitting against a left throw.

When batting left-handed, southpaws also get the advantage of a right-handed pitch being likely fall on the left-handed batter’s dominant side. 

Melinda Latimer, Pitcher (Emeralds)

Basketball

Basketballers will generally begin the game assuming that their opponents are right-handed players. This allows lefties to have some easy drives to the basket, especially early on before their opponents catch on and start forcing on the right side. 

Left-handed Basketballer, Grant Richardson told Zela that he only found challenges when starting and learning the game, "I had to learn every technique and do every drill the opposite to what my coach was doing."

Suzy Batkovic, Centre (Opals)

Hockey

While left-handed sticks are available for ice hockey players, field hockey athletes must adapt to right-handed sticks. Strangely, left-handed field hockey sticks are manufactured but somewhat pointless, as they're deemed illegal in play by the International Hockey Association - playing with both right and left sticks complicates moves and makes the game very dangerous.

Even though left-handed players have to overcome the struggle of playing on their non-dominant side, being left-handed can be an advantage when performing reverse stick moves. When dribbling, for example, hockey players use their left arm to control the stick and their right guides and holds the stick in place. Left-handers often have more control performing these techniques.  

Jane Claxton, Midfielder (Hockeyroos)

Gabi Nance, Forward (Hockeyroos)

Ashlee Wells, Goalkeeper (Hockeyroos)

Netball

Renowned netballer, Liz Ellis once commented that left-handed shooting was harder to defend than the standard right. As a recent addition to the Diamonds squad, Stephanie Wood is yet to play for Australia, but she is currently the only left-handed Diamonds. Wood plays goal attack for the NSW Swifts team in the ANZ Championships and was the receiver of the prestigious Gweneth Benzie Award in 2011. 

Stephanie Wood, squad member (Diamonds)

Darts

Number two Australian womens dart player, Natalie Carter told Zela she trains to be proficient at hitting all targets on the board, but the points in range of her natural throw could make a small difference during play. 

"My favourite finish is Double 10 located on the right-hand side of the dartboard, which is a left-handers natural throw," Carter says. "A right-handed thrower's natural side is from right to left and they favour the Double 16 and Double 8, which strategically offers an advantage when playing 501 competition as the finish 32 (Double 16) breaks down 5 times with each shot, offering a possibility to finish. 

"Essentially I train hard to keep my consistency on all my finishes and therefore, I don’t believe it hinders me that much. But others may think differently." Carter has over 25 years experience playing darts and has won several Australian singles.  

Natalie Carter, Australian Representative and 2nd Australian Ranking

 

Football

Left-footed footballers are considered 'unpredictable' and therefore the odds can be in their favour. Left-footers can confuse defenders who spend majority of the time defending against right-footed players. Defenders will often make a sudden dart to the right, which leaves their dribbling left-footed opponent to go harder on the opposite side and outrun them. 

Steph Catley, defender (Matildas)

Lisa De Vanna, forward (Matildas)

Surfing

Standing on the board right foot forward makes surfers 'goofy-footed', the equivalent to being a left-handed when batting, bowling or pitching. Neither natural and goofy-footers have a particular advantage over the other; riding a right-hand wave is generally easier for a natural-footed surfer and left-hand waves are good for goofys. However, if competitions are held in spots with a consistent break, a boarders stance could be a detriment. Redbull's Cape Fear, for example, is a consistent right-hand break and has violent conditions. Consequently few goofy-footed competitors enter.

Nava Young has recently been ranked number one in the World Surf Leagues. She is the daughter of surfing legend, Nat Young, who is also goofy-footed

Nava Young, 1st Australasian Ranking Longboard 

Cricket

Left-handed bowling tends to be an advantage in cricket as their angle of delivery to right-handed batters is much more penetrating. Although left-handed people comprise a small portion of the population, almost every cricket team will have 2-3 left-handed players. During the 19th Century, Britain held an annual 'right-handed vs. left-handed' cricket event, which saw equal wins on both sides.   

Lauren Cheatle (Southern Stars)

Jess Jonassen (Southern Stars)

Beth Mooney (Southern Stars)

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