26 thoughts on “Get Left

  1. My day has come at last!

    If the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, then only left-handed people are in their right minds!

  2. I’m born lefty but trained righty.

    So I tell people that I’m ambi-clumsy. (I’d say ambi-sinister but the connotation is wrong; I mean I’m not as good with my right hand as true righties and not as good with my left hand as lefties who weren’t trained to use the right hand…)

  3. @Cassy. I’m just the opposite. I was born right-handed but my mom, bless her confused soul, wanted a “weird” baby, so she “trained” me left-handed. Meaning, whenever I reached for something, like a rattle, with my right hand, she would put it in my left. So I’m ambi-clumsy (great term!) as well, writing and eating with my left hand, but doing most everything else right-handed. My left eye is dominant, which screwed me up in high school archery, since I would hold the bow right-handed but try to aim using my left eye. I didn’t figure the dominant eye thing out until well into college.

  4. Contrarius says If the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, then only left-handed people are in their right minds!

    Indeed it does as that’s where I had my severe brain trauma. My autonomic nervous system disorder is precisely because I damaged that side of the brain. If I’d hit my right side, I’m told I’d not have died, nor had the problems I’ve got today but being right handed that’s where my brain functions are.

    I’m getting my medical grade arm sleeve tomorrow for controlling the blood clots. Because I don’t drive and the medical supply company isn’t near any bus route, my PCP, Martins Point, is Ubering me there and back for the fitting.

  5. Pick me!

    I’ve read that left-handers are over-represented in a number of sports. Are there any sports where left-handers are under-represented?

  6. @Bruce Diamond: that’s fascinating! I occasionally assist archery teaching, in which the first question is not handedness but eye dominance, as someone who has never held a bow can be taught either hand but eye dominance is ~unchangeable. (I’m thoroughly left — except that guitar handedness seemed wrong-way-around to me, so the very little guitar I play is the position called righthanded, just as I first picked it up.) IME, left-eye-dominant right-handers are still too common because their righthandedness was forced when young, but I’ve never met a natural left-eyed/righthander. Possibly your case and the occasional right-eyed lefthander show that the wiring isn’t as definitively partitioned as @Contrarius’s quote assumes.

    I wonder about the claim in John’s link that Joan of Arc is shown to be left-handed by her writing; Wikipedia matches my past recollection that she was illiterate (speaking of documents written by others and shakily signed), and suggests that she was called lefthanded as yet another slander by her enemies.

    Oh, and “Dimitri Karamazov” is left-handed, as I noticed when he picked up a bass guitar during a show; I mentioned that afterward, and Ivan said it took a long while to get him to do throws right-handed. (I sympathize — I always led with my left hand when I was learning to juggle.)

  7. @Soon Lee

    Are there any sports where left-handers are under-represented?

    Arm wrestling? Thumb war?

  8. Born lefty. Mom tried to change all that back in the day. Didn’t work out so well. I did end up pitching left-handed but batting right handed. Go figure.

  9. @Chip Hitchcock, I’m naturally left-handed (trained righty) but right-eye dominant. I throw darts left-handed, and the cross-dominance is a contributing factor to the fact that I’m the worst player on my dart team….

  10. @James Pyles: that’s strange — left-handed batters are commonly held to have an advantage of 1-2 steps.

    @Cassy B: I can … see … that would be a disadvantage.

  11. @Chip: I’ve never researched eye-dominance and can only wonder at “~unchangeable.” Everything sports-related (I’ve never been the sporty type, but FWIW) — bowling, softball (throwing and batting), ping pong, darts, etc. — I’m naturally right-handed (and yeah, that left-eye-dominance thing can REALLY mess you up a fun game of darts, so I feel your pain, Cassy) but always aim with my left eye. My dad took my sister and I for (irresponsible) rifle shooting in the woods once. Sis, four years my junior, hit everything. I kept missing because, guess what, the rifle was at my right shoulder, but I kept trying to use my left eye to aim. (That was the only time he took me shooting, thank goodness, because I dearly hate guns.)

  12. I’m righty with left eye dominant. Really the only time that’s ever come up is when using a telescope – I instinctively put my left eye up to the eyepiece. I suppose an oddball focuser could exist where that would put my nose and a knob in the same space, but it’s never caused any actual difficulty.

  13. I’m a lefty with some ambiguity when it comes to two-handed tasks (eating with a knife and fork, using a sword, playing guitar). I’ll often do two-handed things the right-handed way, either because it’s naturally how I do it or because I have to train that way. I think it’s going to lead to some weird shit with swords when I start practicing two sword techniques as they’ll be in my “wrong” hands (long sword in right, short sword in left) and I’ll want to cut with the short sword and parry with the long sword.

  14. There is something you should scroll – I am not left-pixelled.

    I sometimes see left-handers advised to learn guitar right-handed, the basis being a) it’s not that much harder (dunno about that, I wouldn’t want to try fingerstyle wrong-handed) and b) it massively increases one’s purchasing options (indisputable).

    I also remember a character from the Deryni books saying a left-handed sword wielder is pure hell for a right-hander to face. Never tried myself.

  15. @Chip Hitchcock

    @James Pyles: that’s strange — left-handed batters are commonly held to have an advantage of 1-2 steps.

    But is that counteracted by the need to turn around?

    @Patrick Morse MIller

    I sometimes see left-handers advised to learn guitar right-handed,

    Paul McCartney played left-handed. It worked out okay.

  16. @Patrick Morris Miller, I can tell you from experience they’re correct. I learned fencing righty because the salle didn’t have any lefty foils on hand at the time. Which was a real shame, because left-handed fencers are absolute murder on righties. (And on other lefties, for that matter, because most lefty fencers mostly fight righties….)

    A standard parry-riposte puts their blade right in your shoulder rather than past it as you’d expect.

  17. @Bill: righties are the ones who need to turn around. Visualize the batter standing at the plate; their off shoulder is toward the pitcher. A righty swings counterclockwise, ending facing third base; they have to stop the rotation and turn counterclockwise before they can start running. The lefty ends a counterclockwise swing already facing first base and so can just start running — that adds to the advantage of starting about a step closer to first base.

    And McCartney played the same Höfner bass for years; Lennon and Harrison got loaners, e.g. the 12-string used on “A Hard Day’s Night”. The point is that a left-hander reverses the strings so the lowest pitch is still above the other strings when the guitar is facing the audience; this makes it hard for someone who plays left-handed to borrow instruments. (The Wikipedia article on Stu Sutcliffe notes that when he dropped out, he loaned McCartney his bass but asked that the strings not be reversed.) Also, the extremely asymmetric design of many electric guitars/basses doesn’t favor left-handed playing; the Höfner McCartney played looks like a miniature bass viol, so it doesn’t have this problem.

  18. @Cassy B: Lovely that fencers get to train with their preferred hand (equipment allowing). Japanese styles tend to force right handed technique, because Japanese swords are “always” worn on the left and so are drawn right handed. (There are, according to my instructor, accounts of left handed samurai who insisted on wearing their swords on the right, though.) I’m lucky that the style I practice gives me quite a lot of scope within those rules to adapt things for myself.

  19. @Chip Hitchcock

    @Bill: righties are the ones who need to turn around. Visualize the batter standing at the plate; their off shoulder is toward the pitcher. A righty swings counterclockwise, ending facing third base; they have to stop the rotation and turn counterclockwise before they can start running. The lefty ends a counterclockwise swing already facing first base and so can just start running — that adds to the advantage of starting about a step closer to first base.

    Yes, the shoulders are lined up better for the LH batter, but the feet still face the wrong way. He has to turn the lower half of his body around to get going. A RH batter has only to turn his shoulders back around, and usually has already started making steps towards 1B while doing so. It’s more complicated for a LHB to point his whole body, since he has to turn the part of his body that his weight bears on.

    Video of RHB
    Video of LHB.

    Is this enough to make up for the few feet distance advantage? Dunno.

  20. @Soon Lee: If I remember correctly, Hendrix played righty-string-lefty – a right-handed guitar with the strings in reverse order. (Its a good idea to replace the nut if you do that. For an electric with a Stratocaster type bridge, you’ll want to adjust the saddle compensation; for an acoustic you can’t do that, so you’ll have to outright replace the saddle.)

    Another option for left handed players is flipping a right-handed guitar upside down. Watching someone play like that is really confusing.

  21. @Bill: those videos are … unconvincing; at the very least, they show similar amounts of recoil in the feet, with the righthander’s torso having to change position more before they can start moving. It’s possible that the net effect is less dire than for a left-handed infielder (other than first base), whose fielding position has to be unwound to set up a throw to first, but ISTM that it’s still measurable. (That’s a half-answer to @Soon Lee’s question — not a sport as a whole but those positions strongly favor righthanders; I still don’t know why a coach briefly tried me at shortstop, but it was not an experience I cared to repeat.)

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