Nadal and lefthandedness

Daniel Andrade

Hall of Fame
We all know that Rafa is not actually a lefty but instead has a dominant right hand, it was just that uncle Toni taught him to play with the left hand. However, reading about forcing people to change hands when writing, I came across info saying that it actually has a very low success rate for example to teach a righty to write with his left hand. So it's very impressive to me that with his non dominant hand he managed to get to the top of the sport, (although this is compensated by the fact that is more difficult to play against a lefty).

HOWEVER, let's stop for a moment and imagine, WHAT IF Nadal had continued playing with his right hand? Isn't his dominant hand more prepared to play tennis? Shouldn't that have ended in an EVEN BETTER forehand?

Wouldn't that overcompensate the advantage lefties have in tennis?

Discuss
 

ForehandRF

Hall of Fame
We all know that Rafa is not actually a lefty but instead has a dominant right hand, it was just that uncle Toni taught him to play with the left hand. However, reading about forcing people to change hands when writing, I came across info saying that it actually has a very low success rate for example to teach a righty to write with his left hand. So it's very impressive to me that with his non dominant hand he managed to get to the top of the sport, (although this is compensated by the fact that is more difficult to play against a lefty).

HOWEVER, let's stop for a moment and imagine, WHAT IF Nadal had continued playing with his right hand? Isn't his dominant hand more prepared to play tennis? Shouldn't that have ended in an EVEN BETTER forehand?

Wouldn't that overcompensate the advantage lefties have in tennis?

Discuss
Maybe he would've had a better forehand overall, but the forehand to the backhand strategy wouldn't have been as efficient :D
 

Sudacafan

Talk Tennis Guru
Many people from the generations born in or before the first half of the XX century who were born lefties were trained to write right handed in school and at home, because it was considered a defect to be corrected.
I know about some cases of those generations (as my maternal grandmother) who were natural lefties who were corrected to use their right hands to write.
However, those natural lefties continued to use the left hand in all other activities for which they were not corrected: cut with scissors, serve meals, use eating utensils, use hammers, screwdrivers, unscrew bottle caps, etc.
This does not imply ambidexterity. It just reflects how they were educated.

Now, regarding the topic started by the OP, about the other way round (natural righties trained to be lefties), I don't know a single person that has gone through that process.
Personally, I don't think that it's intrinsically harder to make a lefty from a natural righty than the other way round. Maybe it's difficult to tell because of the practically inexistent quantity of cases to analyze this trend (small quantity samples when compared to the inverse case). Also, as the world is predominantly righty, lefties are the only ones that have the need to undergo that process in their lives (open doors, use tools for righties), which makes them more apt.

Also, there are people that don't have a strong dominant hand. For example, my elder son, who was not forced to pick any or his hands to do things, writes and eats with his left hand, but uses his right hand for sports (basketball, tennis when he played, etc.).
 
Last edited:

Sudacafan

Talk Tennis Guru
Because the fact that Toni forced it is a myth. Nadal himself said the left felt more natural
I read that when he started to play tennis, Nadal used his two hands for both his forehand and backhand strokes. Where his Uncle Toni enters in this story, is when he made Rafa choose one of his hands to hit the forehand.
It would be telling what hand he used to serve. Cases of tennis players that can use both hands to serve are practically inexistent (only heard about one).
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
Nadal is an example of cross-dominance. He does somethings with his left and others with his right. An example of what you're talking about is actually Ken Rosewall who was a natural lefty but forced to play with his right.

We all know that Rafa is not actually a lefty but instead has a dominant right hand, it was just that uncle Toni taught him to play with the left hand. However, reading about forcing people to change hands when writing, I came across info saying that it actually has a very low success rate for example to teach a righty to write with his left hand. So it's very impressive to me that with his non dominant hand he managed to get to the top of the sport, (although this is compensated by the fact that is more difficult to play against a lefty).

HOWEVER, let's stop for a moment and imagine, WHAT IF Nadal had continued playing with his right hand? Isn't his dominant hand more prepared to play tennis? Shouldn't that have ended in an EVEN BETTER forehand?

Wouldn't that overcompensate the advantage lefties have in tennis?

Discuss
 

tex123

Professional
We all know that Rafa is not actually a lefty but instead has a dominant right hand, it was just that uncle Toni taught him to play with the left hand. However, reading about forcing people to change hands when writing, I came across info saying that it actually has a very low success rate for example to teach a righty to write with his left hand. So it's very impressive to me that with his non dominant hand he managed to get to the top of the sport, (although this is compensated by the fact that is more difficult to play against a lefty).

HOWEVER, let's stop for a moment and imagine, WHAT IF Nadal had continued playing with his right hand? Isn't his dominant hand more prepared to play tennis? Shouldn't that have ended in an EVEN BETTER forehand?

Wouldn't that overcompensate the advantage lefties have in tennis?

Discuss

No he didn't. Rafa was ambidextrous. All Toni did was to ask him to pick one as he did not want his nephew to have two forehands. He did not teach him or even force him to play with left hand.
You can read about that here - https://www.tennis365.com/tennis-fe...ght-handed-lefty-currently-dominating-tennis/


Code:
However, the myth with Nadal goes that his switch from right to left was not cultural, it was design. It’s often told that ruthless Uncle Toni, the man who coached Nadal from a very early age, forced him to change to give him an extra advantage. Is that true?

“No! That’s a legend,” Toni once explained in an interview to Tennis Magazine

“It’s really not the truth. At the start, he played with two hands but using one hand to direct.

“I had the impression that he was stronger on his left side than on his right side. So, I figured that he was left-handed; it’s as simple as that.

“Besides, even if he ate with his right hand, he also played football with his left foot. However, at no point did I tell him he needs to play with his left hand because that way, he will be much stronger.

“However, since I’m not completely stupid, I simply advised him to use his strongest hand. That’s it.

“I don’t think that it’s that much more advantageous to be left-handed. Just look at the world’s best players: there are not many of them there.

“No, the only thing I did advise Rafa was that at the age of 10, he needed to stop playing his forehand with two hands because no top player had a two-handed forehand and I couldn’t imagine my nephew being the first.
 

Sudacafan

Talk Tennis Guru
No he didn't. Rafa was ambidextrous. All Toni did was to ask him to pick one as he did not want his nephew to have two forehands. He did not teach him or even force him to play with left hand.
You can read about that here - https://www.tennis365.com/tennis-fe...ght-handed-lefty-currently-dominating-tennis/


Code:
However, the myth with Nadal goes that his switch from right to left was not cultural, it was design. It’s often told that ruthless Uncle Toni, the man who coached Nadal from a very early age, forced him to change to give him an extra advantage. Is that true?

“No! That’s a legend,” Toni once explained in an interview to Tennis Magazine

“It’s really not the truth. At the start, he played with two hands but using one hand to direct.

“I had the impression that he was stronger on his left side than on his right side. So, I figured that he was left-handed; it’s as simple as that.

“Besides, even if he ate with his right hand, he also played football with his left foot. However, at no point did I tell him he needs to play with his left hand because that way, he will be much stronger.

“However, since I’m not completely stupid, I simply advised him to use his strongest hand. That’s it.

“I don’t think that it’s that much more advantageous to be left-handed. Just look at the world’s best players: there are not many of them there.

“No, the only thing I did advise Rafa was that at the age of 10, he needed to stop playing his forehand with two hands because no top player had a two-handed forehand and I couldn’t imagine my nephew being the first.
Yes. Long story short, he had to choose one hand to hit the forehand. His left hand was the best choice.
 

Jonesy

Hall of Fame
Nadal is a Neandertal who Toni forced to play left handed. That is the story they don't want you to know.
 

Nate7-5

Professional
I have this issue too - I do most things right handed but batted left in baseball, can golf left and righthanded, and kick left footed. I cannot commit to a 1HBH or 2HBH and sometimes hit lefthanded forehands. I'm considering just attempting to hit forehands on both sides...

 

Wurm

Semi-Pro
Now, regarding the topic started by the OP, about the other way round (natural righties trained to be lefties), I don't know a single person that has gone through that process.
In tennis, no. In golf, kinda.

He wasn't specifically trained but Phil Mickelson is right handed and learned to swing a golf club left handed from an early age because his Dad played and the safest place for young Mickelson to be was in front of him, where he could see him. Mickelson learned to swing a club by mirroring his Dad's swing and thus ended up playing golf as a leftie.
 

stephenclown

Professional
We all know that Rafa is not actually a lefty but instead has a dominant right hand, it was just that uncle Toni taught him to play with the left hand. However, reading about forcing people to change hands when writing, I came across info saying that it actually has a very low success rate for example to teach a righty to write with his left hand. So it's very impressive to me that with his non dominant hand he managed to get to the top of the sport, (although this is compensated by the fact that is more difficult to play against a lefty).

HOWEVER, let's stop for a moment and imagine, WHAT IF Nadal had continued playing with his right hand? Isn't his dominant hand more prepared to play tennis? Shouldn't that have ended in an EVEN BETTER forehand?

Wouldn't that overcompensate the advantage lefties have in tennis?

Discuss
Not necessarily at all.. Phil Mickelson is also right handed. Using your opposite hand actually strengthens neural connections in the brain.

He also said he can't play tennis right handed but he does play basketball etc using his right as well as writing.
 

vive le beau jeu !

Talk Tennis Guru
No he didn't. Rafa was ambidextrous. All Toni did was to ask him to pick one as he did not want his nephew to have two forehands. He did not teach him or even force him to play with left hand.
You can read about that here - https://www.tennis365.com/tennis-fe...ght-handed-lefty-currently-dominating-tennis/


Code:
However, the myth with Nadal goes that his switch from right to left was not cultural, it was design. It’s often told that ruthless Uncle Toni, the man who coached Nadal from a very early age, forced him to change to give him an extra advantage. Is that true?

“No! That’s a legend,” Toni once explained in an interview to Tennis Magazine

“It’s really not the truth. At the start, he played with two hands but using one hand to direct.

“I had the impression that he was stronger on his left side than on his right side. So, I figured that he was left-handed; it’s as simple as that.

“Besides, even if he ate with his right hand, he also played football with his left foot. However, at no point did I tell him he needs to play with his left hand because that way, he will be much stronger.

“However, since I’m not completely stupid, I simply advised him to use his strongest hand. That’s it.

“I don’t think that it’s that much more advantageous to be left-handed. Just look at the world’s best players: there are not many of them there.

“No, the only thing I did advise Rafa was that at the age of 10, he needed to stop playing his forehand with two hands because no top player had a two-handed forehand and I couldn’t imagine my nephew being the first.
according to the vamosalaplayan sacred texts, the nadal is also pedidextrous: his 2FBH is highly underrated by mankind.
 

aldeayeah

Legend
Ambidextrous means that you can do things both left-handed and right-handed. I'm pretty sure Nadal can't play tennis right-handed, nor write left-handed. Ronnie O'Sullivan the snooker player is ambidextrous.
Nah man it's a scale. What you describe is one of the extremes.
 

aldeayeah

Legend
I was wondering if the answer to that would be: more strength in one hand (sports), and more precision in the other one (writing).
Not for me. I write or draw or use anything pencil/sticklike with the left, but everything else, particularly if it's a full hand grab, or a throwing motion, is right hand for me. Like, I play guitar as a righty and that's a finesse activity. I also use can openers and scissors as a righty.
 

Daniel Andrade

Hall of Fame
I have this issue too - I do most things right handed but batted left in baseball, can golf left and righthanded, and kick left footed. I cannot commit to a 1HBH or 2HBH and sometimes hit lefthanded forehands. I'm considering just attempting to hit forehands on both sides...

Wouldn't that be the uber tennis player?

Or is that too time consuming, changing hands.
 

Bumbaliceps

Semi-Pro
Ambidextrous means that you can do things both left-handed and right-handed. I'm pretty sure Nadal can't play tennis right-handed, nor write left-handed. Ronnie O'Sullivan the snooker player is ambidextrous.
No because that would mean that ambidextrous are magical creatures who don't need to train. Nadal can't play right handed because he learnt left handed. But if players were forced to switch hands, he would be the best by far because his wrong hand is not naturally weak as it is for the other players. For him it is weak because he doesn't play with it.
 

Bumbaliceps

Semi-Pro
If Rafa is not ambidextrous, basically it means that every sportsman plainly suks comparded to him. He would be some kind of god.
 
Last edited:

Mustard

Talk Tennis Guru
No because that would mean that ambidextrous are magical creatures who don't need to train. Nadal can't play right handed because he learnt left handed. But if players were forced to switch hands, he would be the best by far because his wrong hand is not naturally weak as it is for the other players. For him it is weak because he doesn't play with it.
Have you seen Ronnie O'Sullivan play snooker? He's a 6-time world champion, and can play left-handed almost as well as right-handed.
 

Bumbaliceps

Semi-Pro
Have you seen Ronnie O'Sullivan play snooker? He's a 6-time world champion, and can play left-handed almost as well as right-handed.
It means he trained for it. Do you really think that Nadal being ambidextrous means he could just switch to his right hand and play almost just as good even though he plays every day as a lefty ?
 

Mustard

Talk Tennis Guru
It means he trained for it. Do you really think that Nadal being ambidextrous means he could just switch to his right hand and play almost just as good even though he plays every day as a lefty ?
Yes. That's what ambidextrous is. They can do things almost as well, or just as well, with both hands.
 

Arak

Hall of Fame
My friend’s son drove his teacher crazy. He can hit forehands on both sides and is stubbornly resisting to learn the backhand. Even though he’s left handed, he seems to have a slight preference for the right handed forehand.
 

DRII

G.O.A.T.
I have this issue too - I do most things right handed but batted left in baseball, can golf left and righthanded, and kick left footed. I cannot commit to a 1HBH or 2HBH and sometimes hit lefthanded forehands. I'm considering just attempting to hit forehands on both sides...

Man that is hot!

So amazing that you can use both sides' (BH and FH) at your choosing!

I would not focus on just having 2 FHs. If you have all 4 strokes and can keep the inherent advantages of each (leverage and whip for the FHs and compactness and control for the BHs) , then why get rid of any. Using 2 forehands usually requires too much time for transition from one side to the other; therefore having the option for the 2 handed bh in those instances is quite the advantage!

Awesome vid!
 

King No1e

G.O.A.T.
We all know that Rafa is not actually a lefty but instead has a dominant right hand, it was just that uncle Toni taught him to play with the left hand. However, reading about forcing people to change hands when writing, I came across info saying that it actually has a very low success rate for example to teach a righty to write with his left hand. So it's very impressive to me that with his non dominant hand he managed to get to the top of the sport, (although this is compensated by the fact that is more difficult to play against a lefty).

HOWEVER, let's stop for a moment and imagine, WHAT IF Nadal had continued playing with his right hand? Isn't his dominant hand more prepared to play tennis? Shouldn't that have ended in an EVEN BETTER forehand?

Wouldn't that overcompensate the advantage lefties have in tennis?

Discuss
I'd imagine it also has a lot to do with how early you learn to switch hands, a bit like learning new languages.
 

terribleIVAN

Hall of Fame
Personally, I don't think that it's intrinsically harder to make a lefty from a natural righty than the other way round.
Lefties have a reputation of being cumbersome: lefties don't have the same fine control of their hands as righties.

That's why converting righties to lefties is almost unheard of. I can only think of Alexander Volkov.
 

Aabye5

Hall of Fame
I think it would help his forehand, but I wonder if his backhand would lose some power, but perhaps his serve would be a lot better.

Edit: does anyone know if Toni is a lefty?

Also - imagine a righty Nadal with a good serve and a Berrettini-like backhand o_O
 
Last edited:

Daniel Andrade

Hall of Fame
I think it would help his forehand, but I wonder if his backhand would lose some power, but perhaps his serve would be a lot better.

Edit: does anyone know if Toni is a lefty?

Also - imagine a righty Nadal with a good serve and a Berrettini-like backhand o_O
In other words, a completely different player.
 

Cupcake

Semi-Pro
I used to have a partner who was a natural athlete. She played tennis with her left hand, but did everything else with her right hand. There was no forcing involved, it was a natural choice.

I heard Rafa himself in an interview saying he was not forced to play lefty by Toni or anyone else - it was a natural choice too.

How much better would he have been if he had been a righty? I doubt much better - he's pretty dang good as he is. As they say, you don't change a winning game.
 

Wurm

Semi-Pro
I don't think he'd have been any better at all. If you've seen Rafa's golf swing it's a pretty awkward looking shovelling kind of action and looks like someone who's learned to play with the wrong hand, which makes me wonder if he learned that right handed because when he started there was only right handed clubs for him to try it out with and he just stuck with it. Also, his right hand grip is, let's say "non-traditional", and typically causes the club to close on impact and a tendency to hook the ball.

You wouldn't think he was so good at golf on his swing alone.
 

terribleIVAN

Hall of Fame
One funny thing happening when one turns a lefty into a righty (Rosewall, Margaret Court) is they start executing their shots as a perfect mirror of their left hand instead of reinventing their strokes as a righty.

Rosewall's backhand was typically a left hand backhand motion mirrored as a righty, if that makes sense.
 

jondice

Rookie
Rafa is right hand dominant, but like many of us, there are things we all do with our less dominant hand more frequently and with better precision.

Lebron James is a righty but is more adept at left handed layups. Lady Gaga is a lefty, but plays guitar with her right hand. I am left handed, but can only use right handed scissors.

Whatever the cause or reasoning behind it, it definitely worked out for him.
 

vernonbc

Legend
I'm depressed that you can't understand. It means you are naturally just as good. If you have never written with your right hand, how could you write properly with it ? Ambidextrous is neurological, you make it magical.
As Bumbaliceps says, it's neurological. It has to do with how the dominant eye sees the ball. Rafa not only plays tennis leftie, he kicks the soccer ball with his left foot and is extremely proficient at that, plus he shoots pool left handed.

His coach, Carlos Moya, writes, eats, and does most things with his left hand but plays tennis with his right. When asked why, he said he picked up a tennis racquet and learned to play when he was three years old before he learned to write. He just did what came naturally to him for both.
 

Start da Game

Hall of Fame
nadal is a natural righty.......i thought this much was already known long back to people?

bluntly, your throwing hand is your natural hand, always.......that is all you need to know and check for yourself what is your natural hand.......rafa throws his bandanas and cuff bands with his right hand.......even in cricket, a lot of players bowl with right hand and bat with left hand using the right hand as strong bottom hand.......that doesn't mean they are left handed.......
 

octobrina10

Talk Tennis Guru
@Daniel Andrade

This is not true that Uncle Toni made Rafa switch to playing left-handed. Rafa has explained multiple times that playing tennis left handed was a natural choice for him.

Rafa's interview with Japanese TV in October 2010:
Question: "You are able to use both hands, at what point in time did you decide to play with the left hand?"
Rafa: "...When I started playing [tennis], I used both hands to hit both backhand and forehand. When I was 3 years old, I didn’t have enough power, so Uncle Toni taught me to do that. After that, when I was about 9 or 10 years old, I had to use only one side, and it became that it was natural to use my left hand."

Rafa is mixed handed. He writes with the right hand, but plays tennis and billiards/snooker with his left hand. His dominant kicking foot is the left foot, he plays whatever football left-footed.
He plays golf right-handed, but golf specialists say that his golf swing is similar to his two-handed backhand in tennis and he himself confirmed it. Last December, he was asked: "How come you play golf as a righty?" He replied: "For me it's like a backhand."

Here, he plays billiards (left-handed) with Chinese swimmer Ning Zetao (during the ATP 500 in Beijing in Oct. 2016):

Here( (at 0:07), Rafa answers that to him, his golf swing is "like a backhand" in tennis:

Rafa's dominant kicking foot is the left foot:



Wikipedia: "Cross-dominance, also known as mixed-handedness, hand confusion, or mixed dominance, is a motor skill manifestation in which a person favors one hand for some tasks and the other hand for others, or a hand and the contralateral leg. For example, a cross-dominant person might write with the right hand and do everything else with the left one, or manage and kick a ball preferentially with the left leg."
.
 
Top