12 responses

  1. Al

    Yes, left footed/handed is a huge advantage. Even in boxing, south paws are very awkward opponents.

    To counter the advantages of being left handed/footed it would require the other player to be left footed/handed too, as naturally the brain will process the danger to be expected to come from the right channel when it’ll in fact come from the opposite channel. So left v left counters that. And according to your stats over 81% of the population are right handed meaning there’s a 4 in 5 chance a left handed player will be at an advantage. The same doesn’t quite apply when left footed players face right handed ones simply because they’re so overwhelmed by right footers they learn to adapt to dealing with this kind of opponent more than the other way round.
    I think you left Gibbs out in your list of left footed Gunners 🙂

  2. Dec

    Fascinating topic Tim, certainly thought provoking stuff.
    I’d suggest that there’s not a position on the pitch where judging multiple angles, assessing comparative speeds of several players in relation to the ball and your current/achievable position and the speed/swerve on the specific type of ball in the prevailing conditions is more vital than that of goalkeeper. When you consider the processing that the brain does in a fraction of a second it is startling.
    That Petr is left orientated may give him a slight benefit in reacting correctly. It’s the infinite number of variables involved that makes football so wonderful.

    Football focus the other day had a story about how he learns the languages of his defenders in order to communicate more directly with them individually, talk about commitment and fine margins!
    Maybe we should sign a non English speaking Welsh or Irish defender, just to challenge him a bit? 🙂

  3. goonersince72

    Excellent observation! But then what is an opponent to do when he faces Santi Cazorla who is equally adept with either foot? Not much,lol. Watching Santi weave his way out of trouble, moving the ball from foot to foot is one of the the joys of watching AFC. How often to we see players miss an opportunity by trying to get the ball onto his stronger foot? Too many. Thanks for a great read.

  4. Mandy Dodd

    Another fascinating read Tim. Learn new stuff every day, didn’t know that about those cricketers.
    Left siders are also more likely to possess genius, or so I have heard

  5. Pete

    Wilshere also.

    I also am led to believe that left handed/left footed people are more creative than right siders?

    Other sports where left sidedness is important include boxing, other racquet sports, other field sports (e.g. rugby, hockey). Only question I have is that I thought left sidedness was about 1 in 10 rather than 1 in 5? Perhaps it is more of a continuum? Not sure if Santi is genuinely ambidextrous – or just practised so hard on his wrong (left) side that he really has equalised it?

    From my playing days I became reasonably competent at passing with my left, less competent at shooting but the one skill I found really hard to master on my wrong side was tackling. I will have a close look at future matches to see how often players tackle on their wrong side.

  6. Tim Charlesworth

    Pete – interesting observation on tackling. Researching this article was surprisingly hard. Very little information is available on whether players are right or left footed. I ended up watching a lot of YouTube footage. In particular I took free kicks as evidence, as a player will always take a free kick with his preferred foot. Santi was a player for whom I really needed free kick evidence to convince me that he is right footed. Tackling was also a bit of a giveaway. I was surprised how often Koscielny uses his right foot to tackle when his left would be more efficient.

  7. Tim Charlesworth

    Pete and Mandy – the idea that left handers are more creative or have genius is often repeated. I am not sure if this is correct. Do they just appear to be more imaginative because they are coming from different angles or doing things that right footers find inexplicable? Having said that there may be some truth in it, as left handedness results from differences in brain hemisphere organisation.

  8. Mandy Dodd

    Not sure on the genius and creativity of left handlers Tim, but must declare a bias on this issue!

  9. Gord

    I don’t think it makes a difference about being left footed in facing a left footed attacker in large. What most people are exposed to in learning the sport, are right footed people.

    If people were “solving the equations of motion” in their heads, I think footedness would be less of an issue. But, most people don’t solve problems that way. They come up with heuristic rules. To me, this is a table lookup method of solution. They pick the table entry closest to what is presented to the, and do what is appropriate. A short time later, they may re-examine the situation and do another table lookup. And so on. This kind of method can work well.

    I see no reason why footedness might not be an advantage to goalkeepers. I think most people can jump better in one direction than the other. Likewise their eye-hand and eye-foot coordination is not likely the same for both right and left. Shooters are used to right handed/footed goalkeepers, and probably try to shoot accordingly. Shooting a Cech, they are shooting to his strengths, and not his weaknesses.

    As you said, it is instinct. They are not consciously choosing to for the weak side of a right handed/footed goalkeeper, they instinctively do so.

  10. Gord


    I don’t know if that is quite the correct word. But, in a world where all directions are intended to be read by right handed people, the left handed person will always need to “reflect” some of the instruction.

    In terms of medical studies, for years all diagnoses were intended to be for male patients, and probably white Caucasians at that. I don’t know if this idea carries over to right handed instruction (intended for men), because in large part men (supposedly) don’t read instructions. But this might explain why most instructions are not accurate, they are written (once) and never edited because men don’t read instructions. Even instructions they wrote.

  11. ClockEndRider

    “baseball (a major global game not widely played in the UK”.
    Really? As far as I’m aware it isn’t played in Europe to any decent level. It’s big in America, some Central American countries and Japan. Anywhere else?

  12. Brickfields Gunners

    Liam Brady was another whose left leg was awesome . And as for cricketers , watching a leftie batsman like Gower caressing the ball to the fence was always a treat.
    As for switch hitters , there were quite a few of ‘them’ that came out of the woodwork in the previous post to try their luck , but were smashed away by the regulars .
    I believe that most of ‘them’ use neither their left , nor their right brains , as most of them are devoid of any intelligence .

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