Hi all! Today I’m going to be discussing whether or not it is an advantage to be left-handed. Firstly, here are some stats which suggest that it is an advantage to be left-handed: Roughly one in ten people are left-handed, but if we look at the top players, a higher proportion (around 40%) are lefties, including current world number one, Xu Xin, and German superstar Timo Boll. This means that there’s an overpopulation of left-handers in table tennis; in other words, it is advantageous.
So why is it such a benefit to be left-handed? Well, simply put, the majority of the time you will be facing a right-hander, so it is quite unusual (and therefore unpractised) to face a leftie. All those things you’ve been practising, especially serves, may not be quite as useful against a left-hander. For example, if, as a rightie, you’ve been practising a short serve into the right-hander's wide backhand, when you come up against a lefty, it’ll be their forehand, and may not have the same effect.
As a left-hander myself, (please, no hate mail) I’ve noticed that when knocking up it’s commonplace to start with the right-hander’s forehand diagonal, so I’m practising my backhand a lot. Generally speaking, the backhand is weaker than the forehand, but with so much practice, a left-hander’s backhand is often more consistent, at least. The forehand is naturally a decent shot, and in a game it will be attacking the right-hander’s weaker side, thus forcing errors. We, on the other hand, get a lot of practice dealing with attacks on our backhand, so this could be a help.
I know this isn’t table tennis but it’s a great example of how important being left-handed in sport can be: Did you know Rafael Nadal is actually right-handed? His uncle encouraged him to play with his left because he knew it would be so advantageous in the world of tennis. Of course, the same thing applies in table tennis, but I’m not aware of anyone who has learned to play with the wrong hand!
As always, thanks for reading and any comments or questions, please post below. Tomorrow I shall be breaking ranks and discussing how to play against left-handers…