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Monday
Aug132012

We Should All Be "Lefties," or at least train like one

Phil Mickelson In honor of National Left Handers' Day,  I thought it only appropriate to chat about the crazy coincidence that was just made know to me in regards to top athletes and which side of their body is dominant.

 

It is a little know fact that some of the most incredible athletes, specifically in relation to power and speed use both sides of their body for different activities.  For instance, did you know Phil Mickelson is right handed?  He just plays golf Lefty.

This is a common theme that is true for so many athletes.  It may not be as obvious for all of them, but it is said (and I get my info from Dr. Greg Rose of TPI) that a very high percentage of professional athletes are known to be ambidexterous, or at least used their traditionally non-dominant hand for some sort of sporting ativity when they were growing up.   Typically there will be something in their past, may it be swinging a bat, writing, throwing, etc that involved the opposite side of their body to their current sport primarily uses.  For instance, Brett Hull, the former NHL superstar played hockey right handed but threw left handed.  Rafael Nadal is right handed, but swings his racquet left handed.  The list goes on and on.

It Can't be That Common, Can it?Rafael Nadal

Apparently, yes it can.  In fact, Dr. Rose believes that he has yet to me a super athlete that has not met this criterion.  For instance, in a small population of 40 students at the TPI course, we had 2 long drive competitors in the room, and before asking them, Dr. Rose predicted that they both had some type of opposite hand/foot activity in their past, simply based on their success in the long drive competitions.  And of course, he was right.  One was predominantly left handed and the other grew up playing sports left handed and kicked left footed.  Both swung the club "Righty."

What does this mean for you?

Am I telling you you should go pick up a left handed sport if you are a "righty," no.  (Although it wouldn't hurt)  I am simply insinuating that there is a definite advantage for an individual that has experience with both.  There are several reasons that I would give for this.  One major one is the simplicity of balance.  If you constantly work one side of the body, odds are you will have difficulty balancing yourself when you turn your body around and try it the other way.  If you've had experience in both directions since you were a little kid, your body most likely has adapted to the different movement patterns.

A more clinical reason would be that using the body equally, both left and right, helps to groove your neural pathways, or a better way to say it would be the "highways" that a nerve impulse must travel both to and from the brain and muscles.  It's a trick we used to use when working with stroke patients in the hospital.  If they are trying to do a task with their affected arm or leg, we would also have them do the same task on the unaffected side.  This way, the brain knows how the nerves are supposed to communicate with that body part.  It was amazing how helpful that simple trick could work.

How can you use this in your training?

Simple, do everything on both sides.  Swing a club both right and left handed.  Throw a ball from both sides.  Every exercise you do on the right, do it on the left.  It will feel very clumsy and awkward, and in many cases you may be embarrassed to do it in public, but that is when you are getting better.  You'll notice a sharp increase in your coordination on your non-dominant side after just a few practice sessions.  Once that happens, look out, you are on your way to some significant gains.  This goes for coordination, balance, speed, and much more.

So in honor of our Left handed friends, lets celebrate them by taking a walk in their shoes.  At least in our training.  (It will make them feel less ostricized :)

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    JeffPelizzaro - Blog - We Should All Be "Lefties," or at least train like one
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    JeffPelizzaro - Blog - We Should All Be "Lefties," or at least train like one

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