Are left-handers better bowlers?

Famous left-hander

Famous left-hander

Just to stir the pot, consider this thesis: Left-handers have an advantage in lawn bowls!

Conventional wisdom says that lawn bowls is a game that is dexterity neutral. Bowls can be rolled without prejudice by either the left or right hand, using the forehand or backhand draw to equal effect. The mechanics of the game do not give an advantage to left or right handed bowlers.

But consider that four of the eight competitors in the singles event at the 2009 US National Championships were left-handed, and that three of the last five singles champions are lefties. Given that only 10% of the population is left-handed, how does one account for this disproportioned number of left-handers qualifying and doing so well at the nationals?

One psychologist postulates that left-handers have an advantage in some sports because they are better equipped with life experience to make adjustments when circumstances change during the course of a game. Society was designed for right-handers – e.g. writing left to right, tightening bolts and screws, design of scissors, etc – but left-handers are experienced in modifying behavior in order to accomplish their objective. Given that lawn bowls is a game of making adjustments – to jack lengths, displaced jacks, or even changes to the head – lefties may indeed have the advantage.

There is also evidence to suggest left-handed individuals are equipped with better visual and spatial awareness, for example in judging three-dimensional spaces or simply the distance of a jack length. Not to mention that left-handed people as a group have historically produced an above-average quota of high achievers, and we know lawn bowls is an intelligent game!

This thesis will surely stimulate some reaction. But as a final word, Wikipedia reports that “exposure to higher rates of testosterone before birth can lead to a left-handed child.” Talk about an advantage!

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