Advantages of Being Left-Footed or Right-Footed

Illustration showcasing the differences between left-footed and right-footed people in various activities.

Ever wondered which holds more advantage: being left-footed or right-footed? A comprehensive scientific study by Ulrich S. Tran and Martin Voracek sheds light on this intriguing question. Dive into their findings below.

Unpacking Preferences: Left or Right?

When determining if you’re left or right dominant, consider the following questions:

  • Which hand do you write with or use to handle a knife?
  • With which foot do you pass a soccer ball, or perhaps, pick up a small stone with your toes?

In real-life scenarios, the answer isn’t strictly black and white. We often use both hands, and soccer players, for instance, can pass with either foot. Yet, many of us have a distinct preference, often resulting from a combination of genetic factors and other influences. Carolien de Kovel of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics mentions this aspect.

A Closer Look at the Study:

Ulrich S. Tran and Martin Voracek’s investigation at the University of Vienna utilized data from two distinct studies, comprising over 15,000 participants. Previous research indicates that around 10% of the global population is left-handed. In elite sports, left-handedness is more common, but that doesn’t necessarily make them more successful than their right-handed counterparts.

Interestingly, being left-handed can provide an edge in sports. For instance, boxers used to competing against right-handed opponents can find it challenging to adjust to left-handed competitors. Such findings also apply to left-footed individuals. Research suggests that being left-handed/footed is advantageous in team sports, martial arts, fencing, dancing, skiing, and swimming.

Mixing Left and Right:

Some individuals show mixed preferences, like favoring the left leg and the right hand or vice-versa. Out of 1,026 left-handed individuals studied, 59% were left-footed, 25% had mixed preferences, and 17% were right-footed. In contrast, 67% of 11,397 right-handed participants preferred their right foot, 30% had mixed preferences, and a mere 3% leaned towards the left foot.

Deeper Dive on Professional Athletes:

While researching this topic, I stumbled upon an article by Ozzy Obioma. He observed that soccer players like Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff, and Gareth Bale, among others, are left-footed but write with their right hand. Obioma theorizes that such individuals are generally more creatively inclined. However, he admits lacking concrete scientific proof for this hypothesis.

The Study’s Conclusion:

To address the primary question of which foot is more advantageous, the research suggests that being left-footed or having mixed foot preferences can be beneficial in both interactive and non-interactive sports. Such individuals might possess better coordination, speed, and strategic advantages.

Limitations and Future Directions:

Like many scientific studies, Tran and Voracek’s research isn’t without limitations. Despite a sizable participant pool, it didn’t delve deep into game-specific elements or varying skill levels, paving the way for further studies.

As a coach, it’s crucial to recognize players’ innate preferences. Do you hone their dominant side, or encourage ambidextrous skill? Watch this video where Marc Lammers shares his perspective.

Concluding Thoughts:

Coaches can tactically deploy players based on their foot preference. A classic example is Hakim Zyjech’s left-footed pass during the Ajax vs. Bayern Munich match. Watch the moment here.


Tran US and Voracek M (2016) Footedness Is Associated with Self-reported Sporting Performance and Motor Abilities in the General Population. Front. Psychol. 7:1199. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01199


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