Do left-handed players have a strategic advantage in table tennis?
The reasons for the overrepresentation of left-handed players (LHps) in some sports are widely discussed in the literature. In light of this debate, this study aimed to assess the associations between players’ handedness and selected performance indicators in table tennis, where LHps represent 25% of top-level players. A notational analysis was conducted on 20 men’s matches including any combination of players’ handedness. Participants were in the first 150 positions of the ITTF world ranking at the moment the matches were played. The table area of ball bouncing after serving, and the shot type used by the receiving and subsequently the serving player, were recorded for 1515 rallies. Each half of the table was divided into six equal rectangular areas. There was a significant effect of players’ handedness on percentage of ball bouncing in different areas. Specifically, LHps showed a greater capacity (or choice) to adjust the serve (in terms of areas of ball bouncing) than right-handed players (RHps) according to the opponent’s handedness. Furthermore, LHps used offensive shots more frequently. In conclusion, both play strategy and characteristics such as higher offensiveness, together may contribute to the success of LHps in table tennis. These findings emphasise the need for a multifactorial approach in future research aiming to understand why LHps may be advantaged in different sports.
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