The Success and The Failures of Lefthanders In Sports
Why Not More Lefthanded Tennis Players?
Tennis is a sport that appears to offer no advantages or disadvantages to either righthanded or lefthanded players. Tennis courts are symmetrical, and the rules of the game do not favor one hand over the other. Tennis racquets can be held in either hand, and tennis shoes are always sold in matching pairs.
There have been plenty of great lefthanded tennis players throughout the history of the game, enough to indicate that there is no significant bias against lefthanders at the highest levels of the game. But there are still obstacles that prevent more lefthanders from learning and competing in the game.
Disadvantages that lefthanders might face occur at the earliest stages of learning the game. As we’ve stated in our article on “LEFTHANDERS IN SPORTS”, many lefthanded children are slower to develop their strength, coordination, and motor skills, due to early resistance to their hand preference. When they first pick up a tennis racquet, they might not be very good. They might face people trying to convince them to play righthanded, which only hinders their development. Most of the coaching they receive, or any instructions they might read or watch, are geared toward teaching righthanders.
Another obstacle that lefthanders face is that many righthanded tennis players don’t like to play against lefthanders. Righthanders are confused when they play against lefthanders because the ball comes from a different angle and has a different spin on it. They find it difficult because the lefthanders tend to hit more balls to their backhand side, which is usually their weaker side. Given a choice, most righthanders would rather avoid playing against a lefthander, although they aren’t always willing to admit it.
These difficulties in learning to play tennis, and in finding opponents to play against, can cause some young lefthanders to give up the game before they have a chance to develop their skills. Those who persist can overcome the early challenges and develop into very good players. They look at the great lefthanded professional tennis players as role models, who inspire them to play more and to play better.
As a result, lefthanders have become more common and more accomplished in the game of tennis. Currently, 13 of the top 100 men, and 7 of the top 100 women in the professional tennis rankings are lethanded players. While rankings of the greatest tennis players of all time are subjective to personal opinion, one of the most respected rankings of the top 100 lists 13 left-handers within the top 100, and 6 lefthanders within the top 20.
The success of these lefthanders, and all the great lefthanders who have played before them, proves that lefthanders can play tennis just as well, or perhaps even better than righthanders, and they are role models for lefthanded tennis players, and lefthanded athletes in all sports. There could be even more lefthanders among the top players in tennis if there were more and better instructions available for lefthanders to learn from, and in the future there will be.