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Cross-dominance, also known as mixed-handedness, mixed dominance and cross laterality, is a motor skills manifestation in which a person not necessarily being truly ambidextrous favors one hand for some crucial and precise fine motor skill operations and the other for others. It can be readily observed, for example, in some members of a police force who shoot with one hand and write with the other.

It can also refer to mixed laterality, which refers to a person favoring eyes, ears, feet, or hands on opposite sides of the body. Cross-dominance can often be a problem when shooting or in activities that require aim.

Ambidexterity[edit | edit source]

One of the most famous varieties of Cross-dominance is Ambidexterity, being equally adept with each hand (or, to a limited degree, feet). The word "ambidextrous" is derived from the Latin roots ambi, meaning "both," and dexter, meaning "right (as opposed to left) or favorable." Thus, "ambidextrous" is literally "right on both sides".

Although ambidexterity is rare at birth, it can be learned. The key in learning is to start paying attention to minor tasks and performing them with one's opposite hand daily. While difficult at first, minor tasks like brushing teeth, opening doors, and eating will become steadily easier if a person keeps at it. Learning to write or throw with both hands is far harder, but with patience and practice, it is feasible for anybody to become proficient with both hands.

Most ambidextrous people still gravitate towards performing certain types of tasks with a specific hand. The degree of versatility with each hand is generally the qualitative factor in determining a person's ambidexterity. Each side of the brain controls the opposite side of our bodies. Some people have been known to hesitate upon the decision the brain makes while attempting to use either right or left side, most likely the motor controlled side that would benefit most.

In modern times, it is more common to find people considered ambidextrous who were originally left handed, and learned to be ambidextrous either deliberately or during childhood in institutions such as schools where right-handed habits are often emphasized. Also, since many everyday devices are designed to be only ergonomic for right handed people, many left handed people have no choice but to use the device with the right hand (a good example is a can opener). As a result, left handed people are much more likely to develop motor skills in their non-dominant hand than right handed people (who are not subjected to left-favouring devices). Ambidexterity is often encouraged in activities requiring a great deal of skill in both hands, such as juggling, swimming, percussion or keyboard music, surgery, and combat.

Ambidexterity And Sport[edit | edit source]

Ambidexterity, or "switch hitting", is highly prized in the sport of baseball as a batter usually has a higher statistical chance of successfully hitting the baseball when it is thrown by an opposite handed pitcher. Therefore, an ambidextrous hitter can bat from whichever side is most advantageous to him or her in that situation. Pete Rose, who had more hits than anyone else in the history of Major League Baseball was a "switch hitter"[1]. There has been at least one ambidextrous pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball, Tony Mullane who won 284 games in the 19th century[2][3].

It is also very advantageous in football/soccer as a player can shoot from almost any position no matter on which side the ball is. It is therefore impossible for a defender to try to block the side from which the attacker can shoot better. It is also advantageous for the goalkeeper to be equally able to dive towards his left and his right.

In pool and snooker, a player can reach further across the table if he is able to play with either hand, since the cue must either be place on the left or the right side of the body. This is best demonstrated by two-time snooker world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan[4].

Other sports in which a degree of cross-dominance can be useful include basketball, where the player may choose to make a pass or shot with his weaker hand; hockey and ice hockey, where a player may shoot from the left or right-side of his body; and combat sports where the fighter may choose to face his opponent with either his left shoulder forward in a right-handed stance or his right shoulder forward in a left-handed stance.

In skateboarding, it's highly advantageous if a skater can skate successfully with not only their dominant foot but also the less dominant. Hence the term "switch skating".

Some players find cross-dominance advantageous in golf, especially if a left-handed player utilizes right-handed clubs. Having more precise coordination with the left hand is believed to allow better-controlled, and stronger drives.

In tennis, a player may be able to reach balls on the backhand side more easily if he or she is able to use the weaker hand. A perfect example of a player who is ambidextrous is Maria Sharapova[5].

Etymology[edit | edit source]

In English, the term ambidexter was originally used in a legal sense of jurors who accepted bribes from both parties for their verdict. Jurors found guilty of such bribery had to forfeit decies tantum, ten times as much as they received. [1]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ This article incorporates content from the 1728 Cyclopaedia, a publication in the public domain.
  1. paragraph 2
  2. 50 Biggest Baseball Myths by Brandon Toropov, page 75
  3. paragraph 4
  5. Biography of Sharapova on (see trivia)

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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