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Left-handedness in tennis: Tactical, coaching and training considerations
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Photographer: Paul Zimmer

Left-handedness has been often considered to be an advantage in tennis due to spin and tactical patterns. Recent research indicates that such advantages are minimal at the pro tour level but can still exist at the club level. The advantage has been suggested to be frequency-dependent, where if right-handed players become more accustomed to left-handed opponents, the advantage is neutralised. It is suggested that frequency of training with left-handed opponents with serve and forehand tactical patterns can prepare players better. Recommendations for tactics, training and coaching are made.

INTRODUCTION

One of tennis’ great debates is whether lefties have an advantage. During the mid-70s, lefties flourished as Connors, McEnroe, Laver, Vilas, Roche, Orantes, and Tanner were among the top players. The dominance of Nadal over Federer also adds to the debate where it is widely acknowledged that Nadal’s heavy spin and tactics are Federer’s kryptonite.

Loffing, Hagemann and Strauss (2012) recently researched handedness in tennis players with a comprehensive analysis 3,793 male and female club players and WTA and ATP rankings over a 38-year period. It was concluded that left-handers at the ATP level enjoyed an advantage in past years but that advantage has significantly diminished in recent years.

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