How much left handed advantage there in badminton and tennis?

Tennis Match Analysis : Wimbledon Domination by Left Handed players

A recent article in BBC by Greg Rusedski suggests that left handers have an advantage when it comes to Wimbledon titles. Although on an average only 10% of the world is left-handed, 23% of the titles have gone to left-handers. Since 1968, when Open Era of tennis began out of the 96 Wimbledon titles, lefties have won a whopping 22 when in fact they would be expected to win only 9. And out of 39 Wimbledon winners (on average 2.5 Wimbledons/person), 8 Lefties are present (expected number should be ~4 Lefties).

BBC article

BBC article

There are several factors which will account for this

  1. More lefties are winning Wimbledon
  2. Lefties are winning more titles/individual compared to Right-handed players

In reality, both of the above statements are true. We have twice the number of lefties as expected; in addition on an average a leftie wins 2.8 titles compared to the overall average of 2.5 titles/person. This means that once we have a leftie champion, they often continue to win title and stay at the top for longer than a right-handed tennis player.

What is the potential advantage that left-handers have in tennis?

  1. Only ~10% of the players on the tour are left-handed, which means more often than not, all players practice and play matches against right-handed players. Every player is trained to play well against right-handed players.

What does the genius left-handed tennis superstar Rafa Nadal think about this? “

“The thing that everybody say, ‘Well, you have your forehand against the backhand of the righty,’…But the righty have the forehand against the backhand of the lefty. The outside slice, outside serve against the backhand, the righty have the same on the deuce. Seriously, the only thing is probably you play less times against lefties than righties. That’s the only advantage.”

2. The better serving side for the lefties is the Ad court, whereas it is the Deuce court for the righties. And crucial points at 40-0, 40-30, Ad point which are often the break points and game points.

READ ALSO : SMASH DASH | Value Edberg brings to Federer

What about Left-handed advantages in Badminton?

The story pans out differently when it comes to badminton. Here we look at another legendary tournament All England Championship. Till 1989 were all title holders but one were right-handed players. This was the time some Europeans and Chinese started actively taking up badminton. In addition, in the 1992 Barcelona, badminton became a part of the Olympics, thus becoming more popular than ever.

We looked at the All England Champions since 1989. And surprisingly, the tennis stats hold up. 23%, an exact 23% of titles (just like the Wimbledon) are won by Lefties. Out of 54 titles, 10 are held by lefties when in fact they would be expected to win only 5. The champions include 3 Men and 2 Women – most recent being the Spaniard Carolina Marin.

Screen Shot 2016-12-22 at 8.36.19 PM

Out of 54 titles, 10 are held by lefties when in fact they would be expected to win only 5.

And out of 35 All England Champions (on average 1.5 All England Titles/person), 5 Lefties are present (when the expected number should be ~3 Lefties). Again the 2 factors account for this,

  1. More lefties are winning : 10 when the expected number is 5
  2. Lefties are winning more titles per individual (average of 2) compared to Right-handed players (average of 1.5)
So when a player of immense skill and talent emerges in the sport also happens to be left-handed, they are often going to dominate the sport for the significant period of time. Watch out for Carolina Marin.
Also published on

READ ALSO : SMASH DASH | Rise of China in Olympics

Left handed sport players FAQ

  1. What percentage of athletes are left handed? Although only 10% of the world is left-handed, the number of left handed sport players ranges from 5-30% depending on the sport.  In sports such as golf (possibly due to unavailability of left-handed equipment), rugby the number is rather small, where as in sports such as baseball, boxing and racquet sports this number is higher.
  2. What is the leftie advantage? Since the world is full of right-handed individuals, our world is often designed for them. To skew the effect further, we think and map the world like right-handed people. So both left-handed or right-handed racquet players most often train with and optimise their games to beat to right-handed players. When it comes to professional players their games and strategy often have a high intuitive component, which completely breaks down when it comes to playing left-handers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *