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Brad Hirakawa 06-07-2004 09:47 AM

I wonder if there are any athletic gains to be made through focused training of your non-dominant side, in an attempt to bring it up to par with your dominant side. I'm talking largely about coordination, but strength could easily fit in here as well.

For example, I write with my left hand, but practice most sports right-handed. Recently, I began to practice writing right-handed and playing sports left-handed. After a few months, my right hand is now just about as good as my left when writing on a chalk/dry erase board. Jiu jitsu maneuvers are becoming much easier on my weak side, so that I now sometimes forget which side was the weak one in the first place.

Is there anything to be gained through my endeavor to become ambidextrous? Do you think it could possibly serve to improve coordination? Or, do you think it will just confuse my already confused brain? :-)


Ed Velasco 06-07-2004 04:05 PM

Have known 2 individuals who due to humeral fractures to the dominant arm became proficient on the non dominant side in table tennis and racquet ball. It seemed that both were able to transfer the off sided proficiency to other sports such as volleyball and handball.

Roger Harrell 06-08-2004 07:27 AM

I recommend working both sides. For most folks things will never be totally balanced, but you will certainly have better overall coordination if you work your off side. Learn to juggle, it's a wonderful symmetric skill. :-)

Robert Wolf 06-08-2004 09:30 AM

When I fought Muay Thai I had over a 1" height discrepancy between my left and right hips due to the increased muscle tone from rear leg round kicks. With some dedicated stretching and working equal amounts on both sides this is no longer an issue.

I do not know if working both sides would benefit things like boxing, kickboxing. Few seem to do this type of training at higher levels. Grappling it seems lends itself to this type of training better.


Tyler Hass 06-08-2004 11:48 AM

I have found that if I learn a unilateral skill with my left hand first, I tend to retain the ability to use that hand. Whereas if I start out with my right hand, I never seem to make the connection with my non-dominant hand. It is pretty easy to go from non-dominant to dominant, but the other way around takes a long-term dedicated effort.
As far as benefits go, I'm not sure. Some imbalances cause problems and others don't. Sometimes correcting an imbalance actually results in a lot of problems. It is highly dependant on the situation. As an example, one high level sprinter leaned slightly to her left as she sprinted. After a few months of chiropractic adjustment and training, they corrected the imbalance, but her sprinting times went down!


Brian Hand 06-08-2004 12:26 PM

Tyler, this is an interesting question - whether it is better to correct the imbalance and possibly take a performance hit, or to leave well enough alone. There is research that indicates that left-right imbalances in strength and flexibility are better predictors of injury than bilateral weakness and / or inflexibility. Long term it seems to make sense to correct the imbalance, but expect to need some time to adjust to the balanced body.

Do you know if the sprinter you mentioned got back to her original times, and if so, how long did that take?

Roger Harrell 06-08-2004 03:21 PM

I'm sure that any adjustment towards a balance will cause a short term loss of ability. If one has trained a specific movement for a long time and adapted to it, changing it will cause problems short term. In some cases major problems. eg a gymnast will generally twist left or right. Ideally the gymnast should twist in the same direction of their round off. A right round off is a left twist. Every twisting skill in gymnastics can be based on that. It also determines what side they should dismount P-bars as well as other skills. Now if a 9 year old has trained twisting the "wrong" way, fixing it will really mess up their twisting for a while, but is in their best interest long term. If I ran into a 15-18 year old that's been twisting the "wrong" way for 6 years, I would leave it alone simply due to the time it would take to correct wouldn't be worth the gains in efficiency on certain skills. Ok, that was long....

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