Train Your Weak Side
I fell in love with the game of baseball at an early age, and throughout my baseball career I learned that life is a world of asymmetrical patterns. Every day we wake up and roll out of bed to one side, open doors with one hand, and shake or flip people off with one hand. Think about how many more times you use your right hand than your left, or vice versa. This rotation and neuromuscular gap builds over the course of your lifetime. One thing is certain, one hand, one arm, and one side will dominate your life.
Train your non-dominant side to become a well-rounded athlete. [Photo credit: Pixabay]
As a baseball strength and conditioning coach, my summers are packed with seasoned veterans and young stars trying to improve many aspects of their game. What I see is a gap between their left and right side cross-rotational patterns. Whether it is from a mobility or stability issue, tension issue, or neurological issue, the gap derives from the fact they swing, throw, and play a stressful game over and over again with their dominant side.
Eighty-nine percent of the population is right-handed, ten percent is left-handed and one percent choose which hand they want to use. This is a big reason why left-handed pitchers are so valuable in baseball and why they have a better chance of getting drafted. But what if they throw right-handed and bat left or if they throw left-handed bat right? Since 1876 there have been 56 non-pitchers that throw left-handed and bat right-handed, most notably Rickey Henderson who had 13,608 plate appearances. Only five position players since 1900 have played 1,000 games batting right-handed and throwing left-handed: Henderson, Ryan Ludwick, Cody Ross, Cleon Jones, and Hal Chase. Conversely, there have been 1,581 non-pitchers who threw right-handed and batted left-handed, which means there is still a gap between sides considering that only 18,461 were ever recorded as playing in the big leagues since 1876.
How Can We Decrease the Gap?
Start by using your other side for simple things in life. If you are right-handed, open doors, open the fridge, or hold groceries with your left hand. Let your dominant hand rest for these simple tasks so it can prepare for complex actions like throwing a baseball, swinging a bat, or stealing a bag.
- I have my baseball players switch hit after coming off of a long season. We set up a soft toss station or a baseball tee and have them hit twice the amount on their bad side. This gets their body to challenge an uncomfortable movement and creates neuromuscular chaos throughout their whole body, which showers the neuromuscular system with feedback because it is not used to stabilizing and dynamically transferring force through the opposite side.
- Not only is this exercise useful, it’s also fun. I have never had an athlete hop into the cage and take hacks (baseball swings) on their bad side, and get pissed off because they couldn’t hit the ball as hard. They already know they are going to suck so they have no expectations. When the pressure is removed from an athlete after a long season, you create the potential to thrive.
Completing simple tasks with your non-dominant side will not only give your dominant side increased recovery for complex movements, but it will also improve your overall athletic ability and quality of movement, which can set you up for potential mastery through the creation of longevity.