Switching Sides: Becoming Lefty

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by aceX, May 19, 2010.

  1. aceX

    aceX Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    Messages:
    2,906
    Location:
    In position
    Recently I took a tumble.

    Two weeks ago I rolled my ankle, fell over and landed heavily on my right wrist. I'm right-handed. My wrist is stuffed; I'm leaving it for 8 weeks from the time I injured it.

    Playing daily meant that tennis is a part of my routine, I can't stop playing.

    About a week ago I picked up my racquet with my left hand and started playing lefty. Talk about awkward; in the beginning I could barely get the ball back, I would miss the ball when trying to serve and would net balls when trying to start a rally.

    Tonight I played. I'm returning balls more often than not, and managed to get through a service game without a double fault. The main thing missing is the "feeling" I have with my right.

    Had anyone else had a similar experience, trying to use their other hand for any period of time? Anyone got any tennis or non-tennis exercise to improve "feeling" in my left hand?

    All stories and thoughts appreciated.
     
    #1
  2. EikelBeiter

    EikelBeiter Professional

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2008
    Messages:
    890
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    I sometimes play half an hour with my left hand, just to improve my double handed backhand.

    I can imagine if you have a double hander and you will play 8 weeks of left handed tennis, your double handed backhand will greatly improve.
     
    #2
  3. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Messages:
    19,827
    Location:
    Central Florida
    I used to play some of my high school teammates lefty to keep the match competitive. You'll get better quickly except on the serve. Mine was always reliable but I could not win points off it.
     
    #3
  4. aceX

    aceX Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    Messages:
    2,906
    Location:
    In position
    On my right, I dunno If I have a double-hander. I started out playing double-hander and then switched to single-handed to develop more feeling in my right hand. Sometimes I double-hand on the return of serve.
     
    #4
  5. aceX

    aceX Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    Messages:
    2,906
    Location:
    In position
    The serve is particularly awkward. Tonight when trying to serve I hammered the ball with the frame into the next court. Embarrassing :oops:
     
    #5
  6. J_R_B

    J_R_B Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    2,668
    Location:
    Newtown, PA
    I played in my local league left handed last summer when I had tennis elbow. I had already signed up for the league and instead of dropping out, I just had the coordinator drop me to the lowest level, and I played left-handed.

    It was fun, but obviously an experience I never want to repeat. I was able to get a decent enough forehand to push and get a couple directional shots, and I hit only one-handed backhands and overhead serves. Those shots never really came to me at all, although at least I could bunt the ball over after a while.

    I finished the league year 4-3 and made the playoffs, although the wins I had were almost entirely due to, well, is "superior conditioning" a nice enough way to say "playing fat old guys who couldn't really move"?

    I don't really have any advice, though, since I never really developed any left-handed weapons to speak of.
     
    #6
  7. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    Messages:
    11,193
    Location:
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    I'm a southpaw (except for throwing) who has learned to do quite a few things right-handed. The first sport that I mastered with my non-dom arm was table tennis. Due to a shoulder (rotator) issue in the early 90s, I switched to primarily right-handed for volleyball. In the past few years, I developed a righty serve and forehand for tennis. Altho' it felt a bit awkward at first, I can perform either of these strokes and the occasional FH volley north-pawed. My right BH still sucks cuz I've not really spent any time developing it.

    I am now attempting to master badminton with my right arm since that sport is much harder on my diminished-capacity left shoulder than tennis is.

    My suggestion to the OP is to learn to throw left -handed. Try throwing both balls and rackets (old rackets, if you've got 'em) to develop some coordination. The latter should help your lefty serve more than ball throwing will. Also try to master "ups & downs" left-handed with a ball & racket. Try other tasks such as eating & teeth-brushing with your left side to further develop some coordination with your "South side".
    .
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2010
    #7
  8. TheFuture101

    TheFuture101 Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    101
    I am going to switch from north paw to south paw over the summer :). I wish you good luck in your recovery, and hope you find somewhat of a game playing with your non-dominant hand before you switch back.
     
    #8
  9. Chanto

    Chanto Rookie

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2010
    Messages:
    188
    Location:
    Methuen, MA
    The forehand shouldn't be as big as a problem as the backhand, from my experience. Basically, it's relearning the game, except you have a lot more knowledge. Take video of yourself, if you can, and you'll see the changes that you need to make.
     
    #9
  10. SuperDuy

    SuperDuy Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2009
    Messages:
    2,518
    Yeah same as me, ambidextrous, first thing table tennis aswel.
     
    #10
  11. aceX

    aceX Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    Messages:
    2,906
    Location:
    In position
    Great, thanks for these suggestions.

    I also started a new character on EA Grand Slam Tennis on Wii using my left hand.

    I'm finding that using my left hand is making me think a lot about my technique and what I can do to improve. I think the motivation to improve will be a useful thing to retain once I switch back
     
    #11
  12. aceX

    aceX Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    Messages:
    2,906
    Location:
    In position
    Had to stick to tennis on Wii today, it was raining :cry:
     
    #12
  13. BU-Tennis

    BU-Tennis Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2008
    Messages:
    488
    Location:
    West Virginia
    I think its interesting to play tennis with your opposite hand, kind of takes me back to the early stages and helps me feel how awkward the sport truly is and how the body has to move almost perfectly in time to present a good shot.

    Its especially helpful when teaching beginners, as you learn how to better verbalize the instructions you're giving into something coherent to people who don't know what the kinetic chain is, or wrist pronation.
     
    #13
  14. Slazenger07

    Slazenger07 Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2009
    Messages:
    1,068
    Good luck with the switch. I cant imagine playing right handed, my NTRP would drop from 4.5 to .5....
     
    #14
  15. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Messages:
    37,284
    Location:
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    I dunno..
    Playing a falling level of 4.0, I can switch to full rightie (I'm leftie), and still play at middling 3.5 for sure.
    My first serve would drop 15. That's OK.
    My seconds would drop 15, not so good.
    My forehand would improve about 30% over my leftie forehand.
    My backhand would drop about 20%, but mainly in topspin drives. Slice the same.
    My volleys would stay pretty close.
    My brain and strategy would stay the same low level.
    And I would move about the same.
     
    #15
  16. Slazenger07

    Slazenger07 Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2009
    Messages:
    1,068
    Bummer...I have topspin 2 on xbox360 for such occasions. It tends to do the trick
     
    #16
  17. aceX

    aceX Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    Messages:
    2,906
    Location:
    In position

    Well it's approaching winter here so it's to be expected. (New Zealand)
     
    #17
  18. Cup8489

    Cup8489 Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2007
    Messages:
    9,269
    Location:
    Silvis, IL
    three is more enjoyable to me :)
     
    #18
  19. aceX

    aceX Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    Messages:
    2,906
    Location:
    In position

    Yup I've got Topspin 3 on Wii. Grand Slam tennis is better though. I really want to get a motion plus just for that game :)
     
    #19
  20. Slazenger07

    Slazenger07 Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2009
    Messages:
    1,068
    Well im the best in the world at ts2 now, so its really enjoyable to me.
     
    #20
  21. Slazenger07

    Slazenger07 Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2009
    Messages:
    1,068
    Just so you know...once you go lefty, you'll never want to go back. :)
     
    #21
  22. BullDogTennis

    BullDogTennis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2008
    Messages:
    2,216
    Location:
    Big Orange Nation
    your so full of yourself its sickening.
     
    #22
  23. tennytive

    tennytive Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Messages:
    731
    I've had tennis elbow since April, and lately it got to the point where I either had to sit out or try playing lefty. Lefty beats sitting out, but it's humbling to say the least.

    It took me about 45 mins to finally start spinning my serve in, very awkward (and ugly) at first. Ground strokes were surprisingly steady, and I even won some points at net with a few overheads. Another strange thing was today I was returning serve as well or sometimes better with my left hand. ??

    I really have to concentrate on every stroke, as I have no muscle memory to fall back on. It's not as hard as I thought it would be, but maybe batting, ping pong, shooting a basketball, and throwing, all left handed at one time or another growing up must have helped. I was able to mimic my right hand strokes and even spin the ball, but had no power whatsoever.

    Someone mentioned brushing their teeth left handed. I've been doing that about a week now and it finally doesn't feel weird.
     
    #23
  24. Netspirit

    Netspirit Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Messages:
    4,245
    Location:
    Snoqualmie, WA
    TS3 is too complex to me. Insane controls. TS2 rules, I always beat my wife 6-0, 6-0, heh.

    To the OP: search for the book called "Whole Brain Power". It can teach you to become ambidextrous (about $10). Also see some youtube clips on Chris Lavery, an ambidextrous player (his father, "The Hammer Man", wrote the book).

    One of the tricks he used himself to improve hand-eye coordination is writing with his left hand. He would also take a small hammer and try to bounce a golf ball as many times as possible.

    It looks like our neurons can be trained to perform any activity regardless of age. We are only righties or lefties because one side of our brain developed a bit earlier than the other, so we started doing everything with that hand and trained that side even more at the expense of the other.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2010
    #24
  25. aceX

    aceX Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    Messages:
    2,906
    Location:
    In position
    Thanks for the reference, I'll look into it. Having studied neurophysiology myself I believe that it is possible to train yourself to be ambi, I mean just look at Nadal.

    My left had is okay now. It's funny, my 1HBH using my left hand it more comfortable than my left hand forehand. I think it's because I'm used to transferring my weight from my right foot to my left foot when doing a right handed backhand. Also, because I'm swinging on my right hand side it feels more natural.

    My right wrist has healed now, so the only time I've used my left recently is against people whom I would demolish playing normally. It keeps it more interesting and challenging for me. My left hand serve is terrible though, can't get used to the core movements - my arm movement is O.K. but my kinetic chain almost absent. It seems like my left hand is actually not bad, but the left side of my body in general is bad which makes my serve suffer.
     
    #25
  26. aceX

    aceX Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    Messages:
    2,906
    Location:
    In position
    Been playing EA Grand Slam Tennis with my left hand. Feels quite natural now.
     
    #26
  27. Roy125

    Roy125 Professional

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2009
    Messages:
    944
    Location:
    San Diego, California
    I understand your awkwardness. The last time I tried to serve left-handed, I managed to injure myself. :confused:
     
    #27
  28. aceX

    aceX Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    Messages:
    2,906
    Location:
    In position
    lol, crap! What did you injure?

    I've been working quite a bit on my lefty serve.

    The two main things that needed work are:
    - arm movement between trophy pose and ball contact. I've been repeating that movement with a dumbbell bar (if I use a racquet I keep hitting the ceiling, even though I'm sitting down).

    - the kinetic chain. I need to work on getting the right hip out and linking the whole body into my shoulder and arm motion
     
    #28
  29. aceX

    aceX Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    Messages:
    2,906
    Location:
    In position
    Practicing writing with my left hand daily. Making good progress.
     
    #29
  30. aceX

    aceX Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    Messages:
    2,906
    Location:
    In position
    Ah and now using the mouse in my left hand
     
    #30
  31. aceX

    aceX Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    Messages:
    2,906
    Location:
    In position
    Any of you aspiring ambis out there, put the mouse in your non-dom hand and try to get your best winterbells flash game score. 52870 is my best so far.
     
    #31
  32. aceX

    aceX Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    Messages:
    2,906
    Location:
    In position
    I'm trying to ambi again. My evening wall routine at home is 5 mins right hits 5 mins right serve 5 mins left hits 5 mins left serve.
     
    #32
  33. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Messages:
    19,827
    Location:
    Central Florida

    Has your right wrist still not healed?
     
    #33
  34. tennytive

    tennytive Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Messages:
    731
    I've been playing lefty 3 times a week since August 1st, and by now my game is about 60% if compared to right handed. My serve suffered until I got my toss corrected, and now it's pretty effective. I've even served a few aces!

    Overall it's been fun learning to play with my left hand, but now that my right elbow is at about 75%, I've hit a couple times to test it, and there's no comparison. I'll stick with lefty until the season ends in a few weeks, but next spring I'll be more than happy to have my righty game back. I miss too many easy put aways at net lefty that I *almost* never miss righty.

    One more thing. Since I started playing lefty I've only used syn gut, no more poly. I've had no pain at all in my left elbow, and never wore the brace either. We'll see how it goes next year, but if I can play pain free at full strength, I'll be happy.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2010
    #34
  35. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,174
    Glad to hear of you guys who have been reasonably succeessful with your off hand. I am absolutely hopeless doing anything left handed right now, but when I was a kid I learned to throw left-handed as well as right-handed. Maybe that is something like learning a foreign language when young and then forgetting it.
    My dad started playing left-handed when my brother and I were kids so we could have competitive matches. He got to about a 4.0 level before we got good enough for him to have to play right-handed.
     
    #35
  36. splitbouncehit

    splitbouncehit New User

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2010
    Messages:
    36
    Location:
    NJ
    I've been playing ambidextrously since I started about a year ago, and I'm proud to be equally bad with both hands...

    But now I'm preparing for college tennis next semester, and I'm considering giving up on being ambidextrous. I feel like my practice time during the next few months would be better spent trying to improve one hand 20% than two hands 10%. This is probably why you don't see any of the top pros playing with their off hand.
     
    #36
  37. Blake0

    Blake0 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2009
    Messages:
    1,709
    Location:
    Texas
    You'll be able to get the strokes and stuff down, but the feel is really hard to get to the same degree as your dominant hand.
     
    #37
  38. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    7,499
    Intersting.. I am a leftie and often play for 10 mins or so right-handed against the wall when hitting. I did it less to learn how but to see if I could plus because I was trying to improve my overall footwork which it seems to be good for.

    I personally found a good way to improve really quickly is to play short against a wall - standing only about 2-3m away. The 'feel' aspect of playing with your non-natural hand is the hardest part to learn and this helps heaps. Once you've improved that the rest seems to fall into place much quicker.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2010
    #38
  39. tennytive

    tennytive Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Messages:
    731
    Perfectly put.
     
    #39
  40. mlktennis

    mlktennis Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2009
    Messages:
    418
    I wonder if switching hands will help with your footwork and strategy since you have to be more exact and win with fitness and court positioning.
     
    #40
  41. aceX

    aceX Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    Messages:
    2,906
    Location:
    In position
    It has healed. Recently I've been using my left hand purely for fun.
     
    #41
  42. aceX

    aceX Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    May 14, 2010
    Messages:
    2,906
    Location:
    In position
    My main problem using my left is a lack of stability. My left arm feels 'floppy' and unresponsive. I think it's mainly due to lack of intensive use that my right hand/arm has had through my life.
     
    #42
  43. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Messages:
    19,827
    Location:
    Central Florida
    I hit a few lefty serves and forehands today. It feels very nice when you hit a good one.
     
    #43

Share This Page