There are few skills that are more dangerous in sports, or tougher to develop, than a great opposite hand or foot. See Mickey Mantle’s 372 left-handed and 164 right-handed homers, or watch John Wall effortlessly stride down court, react, and then throw down with his left hand, here:
There are also few skills in sports that are so tied to the brain and nervous system. Think for a second about when you dribble a basketball, pick up a bat, or jump as high as you can. You probably don’t consciously decide what hand or foot to use, you just do it. The brain structure related to this automatic preference is the posterior parietal cortex. The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa. New research out of the University of California San Diego has found that inhibiting this brain area on the left side makes right-handed people more likely to use their left hand for tasks. In effect, we may not so much have a dominant hand, as we have a dominant side of the brain.
What might we see if we looked at John Wall, or if we could have looked at Mickey Mantle? It’s tough to tell, but the exceptionally ambidextrous may just have brains that are a little bit more balanced and flexible than their competition. Something to think about: when you go out and work on your lefty jumper, you’re really working the right side of your brain.