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Southpaw Advantage

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Since the vast majority of the human population is right hand dominant, meeting someone who is the opposite isn't something most people would expect. Some would think that it would be a handicap because left-handed people live in a world that is geared toward those who are right-handed; however, it has quite a few perks. Left-handed characters often have to adapt to the world by forcing themselves to use their right hand, which can, over time, cause them to be adept at using both of their hands/feet (as well as both sides of their body).

Being left-handed can give a character an edge in various areas of expertise such as sports and combat because most of their opponents aren't used to competing against lefties since they are the minority of the population.

Traditionally, baseball fields were oriented so that the batter, catcher, and umpire faced east to ensure that the setting sun wasn't in their eyes. As a result, when a pitcher is on the mound facing home plate, his left hand pointed south, so lefty pitchers came to be known as southpaws. The term has since entered general usage to indicate left-handed people which is how the trope got its name.

Could be the result of a Situational Hand Switch. Contrast I Am Not Left-Handed.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ace of the Diamond, as a baseball manga, has many lefties among its ranks. Protagonist Sawamura Eijun and major rival Narumiya Mei are the two most important examples. However, oddly, there's no real advantage to being a Southpaw in-series aside from the standard "slight advantage against left-handed batters"; of the strongest pitchers, fully half are right-handed, including the Ace of the back-to-back National Champion Komadai Fujimaki High, Hongou Masamune.
  • Aoki Densetsu Shoot: Toshi had trouble playing soccer since he would force himself to play with his right foot rather than with his left. His idol Kubo then discovers that Toshi is left-footed and trains him to strike with his left leg. His powerful left shots made him the new ace striker of Kakegawa, earning him the name "The Miracle Left".
  • Black Cat 's Train Heartnet was born left-handed and became ambidextrous through training, though his left hand is still slightly faster and more accurate when he uses his gun. Notably, he spends the entire Battle on Clarken Island using his left hand alone, partly to show how seriously he is taking the job and his opponents.
  • In Haikyuu!!, Shiratorizawa High's team ace Ushijima Wakatoshi is left-handed, which is noted to give a particular advantage to spikes because most blockers orient themselves to a spiker's right. Flashbacks show how when he was young, his school attempted to "correct" his handedness, which his father (another avid volleyball player) insisted on them not doing.
  • The ability to box left-handed is a rare and (sometimes) major advantage in Hajime no Ippo. The ability to switch between southpaw and a conventional stance at will is even better.
    • Akira Shigeta, the first southpaw opponent that Ippo faces (although it's only in a sparring match) is actually an intentional example. From this training he succeeded in arming himself with a strategical advantage over most boxers and a strong right jab. Also, being a southpaw, his right arm's positioning allowed him to throw powerful counters, even without the rapid reaction speed of other counter-punchers.
    • Antonio Guevara, the Filipino featherweight champion, is the first actual, natural born southpaw Ippo faces in his career, and Guevara beats him into retirement.
    • Keith Dragon, the world super middleweight champion, is naturally left handed, but uses the orthodox right handed stance in the ring. This gives his jabs both better strength and control than most, and as the trope description mentions, he's skilled at using both hands simultaneously. Like the other world champion level boxers, he's one of the only people in the world able to meaningfully threaten Takamura.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Movie villain Broly is very different from regular Super Saiyans, as his Legendary Super Saiyan Form is a huge bulk of muscle with no lack of speed. He tends to use most of his attacks with his left hand. Due to him being left handed, his intended final blow on Son Goku was performed with his left fist and Goku nonchalantly catches it with his right hand.
    • During Gohan's first day at Orange High School, he takes the southpaw stance during the baseball game, which the P.E. teacher points out. However, Gohan doesn't have much experience with baseball and he was trying to hold back (unsuccessfully), so it is possible that he was either clueless or intentionally tries not to use his dominant hand in this game. The southpaw stance does him very little in the end, since he doesn't even hit the ball and gets hit in the face instead, shrugging it off like nothing and advances to the first base because it's a dead ball.
    • During the super-powered Baseball Episode of Dragon Ball Super, Goku is the only one who takes the southpaw stance despite not being left-handed. However, since Goku doesn't know much about baseball (even less than Gohan back then), he's clueless in what he's actually doing. Despite this, he still manages to win the power struggle against (the distracted) Vegeta in the end, but Botamo manages to catch the ball regardless.
  • Implied in Good Luck Girl!. Momiji wears a large gauze wrap on her right hand, which is covered in runes which unleash a dark spell when revealed. Since she can't use her right hand normally, it can be assumed that she's left-handed.
  • While Kaguya from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War has trained herself to use her right hand for everyday tasks, she is naturally left-handed. Her left arm is also far stronger than her right due to it being the one she uses to pull the bowstring when she practices archery.
  • Lyrical Nanoha has a few left-handed characters, including the titular character. There are three examples that fit this trope.
    • Alicia being left-handed is the first evidence for Presea to see Alicia's right-handed clone Fate as a failure.
    • Ginga is not only left-handed, her left hand can even turn into a drill, something that her right-handed younger sister Subaru lacks, giving Ginga an advantage in armory and close-range combat.
    • In ViVid Strike!, Vivio, who is right-handed, switches to southpaw style during her match with Rinne. * Rinne is unable to adapt to Vivio's new style and ends up losing the match.
  • In The Prince of Tennis, Fuji's brother, Yuuta, is known as "The Lefty Killer," because he knows most lefties aren't used to playing against a left-handed opponent and he's learned to capitalize on it. Coach Ryuzaki is initially dismayed to hear this, as both Ryoma and Tezuka (considered one of the best players in the middle school circuit) are left-handed, and she initially wishes she'd had Ryoma practice against Tezuka more.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Saito's Signature Move is the gatotsu, a ridiculously powerful left-handed thrusting technique. This was apparently Truth in Television, though the real gatotsu likely didn't look anything like how it appears in the manga and anime, as the mangaka was basically making up something cool looking that met the basic definition of an undetailed description of how the historical Shinsengumi fought.
  • Shirobako: This seems to be invoked by Ogasawara when it comes to playing softball, as she pitches and bats with left, but is using her right hand in everything else. Yet for some reason, she's incredible good in softball.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Back to the Future, there is George McFly's famous badassery level up scene where he decks his lifelong Barbaric Bully tormentor Biff Tannen with a big, left-handed haymaker to protect the girl he loves. In an early draft of the script, there was a scene where George discovers that his left arm is for some reason much stronger than his right (which would have been Foreshadowing).
  • Comes up a couple times in the Rocky films:
    • In Rocky, Apollo's trainer cites the left-handed fighter's advantage as a reason why Apollo should either not fight Rocky, or should at least take the fight more seriously.
    • Then in Rocky II, Rocky learns how to box right-handed to prevent Apollo from damaging his injured eye. But because it's not natural for him, Rocky gets pummeled. It isn't until Rocky goes back to his natural southpaw stance in the last round that he comes back and wins the fight.
  • Implied in TRON with the title character. No other Program appears to be left handed like he is. Throwing a Deadly Disc left-handed would put a spin and angle on it that his opponents likely found difficult to counteract.

  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Arya Stark. When her dominant hand is revealed to her fencing master, he reacts favorably because fighting left-handed will reverse her stance and movements, which will help confuse her opponents. Of course, her left-handedness might also be A Sinister Clue about her future.
  • Alanna from the Tortall Universe deliberately practices at using her sword left-handed after her right arm is injured during training to become a knight. She keeps up the ambidextrous sword usage even after she's healed, which becomes a Chekhov's Skill in a duel against the Big Bad.
  • Dhugal in the Deryni novels is noted as left-handed, including fighting left-handed. The narration in the archery yard scene in The King's Justice recounts the late King Brion's preference for his pages and squires to train right-handed (which Dhugal missed by spending much of his training years at home in Transha). Brion was grudgingly persuaded by Alaric Morgan that fighters should know how to switch off in case of injury (so as not to be left defenseless), but even a couple of years after Brion's death, Dhugal stands out as the only left-handed fighter. Dhugal will have reason to appreciate Morgan's logic in The Quest for Saint Camber when he breaks his left arm when he's swept away in a rainy landslide.
  • Harry Turtledove's Tales of the Fox series: the main character is left-handed, and he remarks that it makes it easier to get around enemy shields for a couple of reasons.
  • In the Emberverse novels, Rudi Mackenzie's right arm is wounded and he has to learn to use his left arm as his sword arm. When practicing with youths in the Free Republic of Richland, they complain that he has an unfair advantage as a southpaw. His mentor chews them out for it.
    "Yah hey, if someone attacks you using different moves, or if they're a leftie you're just going to say you're taking your bat and ball and going home 'cause it ain't fair? Christ, Weiss, I've known you were a dumb little punk for years, but do you have to show it off in front of strangers?"
  • The Saga of the Sworn Brothers: Thormod, a lefthander and "not a strong man", is able to kill the great warrior Thorgrim Troll with an axe borne in his left hand, and afterwards makes a poem about the deed which specifically mentions it was done left-handed. This suggests Thormod credits success to his left-handedness, because Thorgrim did not expect an attack from a man carrying a weapon in his left hand.
  • Kane Series: Kane is left-handed, although in the course of his extremely long life he has trained himself to be ambidextrous. Which has two benefits: his opponents are usually not accustomed to fighting a left-handed warrior; and when his dominant hand is wounded, he can use his right hand almost equally proficiently.
  • In the second How to Train Your Dragon book How to Be a Pirate, Hiccup initially sucks at swordfighting, just like he does with everything that's traditionally Viking-like, although unlike every other Viking discipline he at least tries to be better at it because he thinks some day he could be really good at it for some reason. At the climax, he has to fight Alvin the treacherous with his right arm dislocated, and discovers that he's not only left-handed, but he's actually really good at sword fighting.
  • In Song in the Silence, Lanen takes advantage of this when an enemy grabs her right arm to throw her off-balance. Being left-handed, she's completely unhindered.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Subverted in an episode of the Highlander TV series. Duncan's immortal friend Carl Robinson is challenged by Myron Corman, a fellow Immortal. Corman mentions this trope and notes that Robinson, who is a baseball pitcher, has a lot of difficulty facing left-handed batters, and wonders if that is true in sword fighting as well. Corman then goes into a left-handed sword stance, brimming with confidence — and is soon beheaded by Carl.
  • Subverted in Monty Python's Flying Circus, where dimwitted boxer Ken Clean-Air Systems is due to fight shorthand typist Petula Wilcox. In an interview before the fight Petula predicts that Ken will be confused because she's a southpaw. Come the match she still gets curbstomped.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • The tribe of Benjamin, who were overwhelmingly left-handed;note  in a civil war between the tribes of Israel, the sons of Benjamin fielded three hundred left-handed slingers.
    • Ehud (another Benjaminite who's left-handed) hides a sword by strapping it to his right thigh (where he can easily draw it) before paying a visit to King Eglon. Although the passage doesn't explicitly say so, the fact that it emphasises Ehud's left-handedness and which side he strapped the weapon to suggests that the guards missed the weapon because it was not on the side they were expecting.

    Video Games 
  • Crusader Kings II reflects this in the Left-Handed trait, which provides a decent bonus to personal combat skill (used to determine the victor in duels). However, the historical stigma against left-handedness is also represented in the trait by an opinion penalty.
  • Day of the Tentacle: Ned and Jed, identical twins whose only differ lies in their handedness preference. In order to bypass Nurse Edna, who is guarding the video feed in the present, Hoagie (stuck 200 years in the past) has to switch the two twins while they are making a statue so that said statue flips in the present day, allowing Bernard to push Edna down the stairs without her being able to rely on the statue to right herself.
  • In Eternal Fighter Zero, Mai Kawasumi, another Iaijutsu Practitioner, is a lefty: she holds the sheath of her sword with her right hand, so she can use her left hand to draw. note 
  • Sol Badguy in Guilty Gear wields his sword left-handed, in Reverse Grip no less. Naturally, he regularly defeats his right-handed rival Ky Kiske whenever they go at it. The same applies to Ragna the Bloodedge, the protagonist of Guilty Gear's Spiritual Successor BlazBlue, right down to the reverse grip, though Ragna notes in Chronophantasma that outside of that, he's right handed.
  • In Mario Golf, any character can be lefty by pressing the L button on the character select screen. This is useful if a character has a fade or draw and you want their shots to curve the other way.
  • In MechWarrior, the non-symmetrical Humongous Mecha are typically 'right handed', wielding most of their firepower in their right arm and right torso; this effects everything from seeking cover to convergence when attacking enemies. A small handful of mechs are left-biased, like the Thanatos which carries a BFG in the left hand and a smaller missile rack on the right. Great for sneaking up on enemies from unexpected angles, but terrible when corner-humping with right-handed allies who only need to expose their right side to attack. The handedness of mechs even affects how they are rated on various Character Tiers-ranking websites like MetaMechs. One particularly notable example is the Thor, whose combination of odd hitboxes, small frontal profile for the left arm, and attendant left-shoulder missile drum meant that players could peek with the large ballistic weapon slot in that arm and often blast several kinds of terrific hell out of the enemy from an unusual angle of fire. Thor-A and Thor-C pilots became infamous for 'boom peeking' with their enormous Gauss rifles and Ultra autocannons.
  • All hunters in the Monster Hunter games who use the Sword & Shield, the Lance and the Gunlance hold the weapon in their left hand and the shield in the right. This is explained by the game developers as a conscious choice the hunters, as they train to use their stronger arm for blocking attacks from the massive creatures they fight. They also always use the carving knife with their left hand. Every other weapon however is wielded ambidextrously or in the right hand.
  • Much of the reason Soda Popinski (formerly known as Vodka Drunkenski) from Punch-Out!! can be a challenging opponent to face is the fact that he fights southpaw, meaning his patterns are flipped from the standard, and as such, he's trickier to react to.

    Visual Novels 
  • Haruka of Little Busters! is left-handed. It comes up while they're setting her up for the baseball team and they briefly discuss the way she has a small advantage because of it. It wasn't so advantageous when her Big, Screwed-Up Family assumed left-handedness was a sign of weakness and beat her for it, though.

    Western Animation 
  • The Owl House: Amity Blight is one of the most gifted Witches of her generation, and only gets stronger as the series progresses. While it isn't obvious at first she is in fact left handed, a trait that is most apparent in her duel with Hunter in "Eclipse Lake", as Amity almost exclusively uses her left hand to command the Abomination Goo that she uses to fight. Additionally, her favored technique of forming an Abomination Gauntlet to punch someone is only ever seen used over her left hand as seen in "Eclipse Lake", "Follies at the Coven Day Parade", and "Clouds on the Horizon".
  • Inverted in The Simpsons episode "Homer at the Bat"; Mr. Burns benches Darryl Strawberry and replaces him with Homer because both Strawberry and the pitcher are left-handed, and Homer bats right-handed.

    Real Life 
  • Combat sports:
    • In boxing, left-handed fighters are often considered a more difficult matchup, because the change in stance and positioning of the hands and feet causes unique problems for right-handed fighters. How you have to move (in order to avoid tripping over the other fighter or stepping on their foot), what punches are effective and what punches you become more susceptible to, the angles those punches come from and what tactics must be used all change, and in many cases become the exact opposite of how a fighter has trained all their life. It often takes a conscious effort for the right-handed fighter facing the southpaw to remember all this, instead of being able to automatically fall back into years of training and conditioning, leading many to say Damn You, Muscle Memory! On top of that, the right-hander has to keep this all together while getting punched in the face, and possibly while only being semi-conscious. Meanwhile for the left-handed fighter, fighting a righty and using all those tactics and moves is just another day at the office.
    • Fencing is yet another sport where this occurs, since right-handed fencers are almost always used to dueling other right-handed fencers, so when they go up against lefties they tend to get thrown off in how to guard and attack. Left-handed fencers, of course, have no such disadvantage. When two lefties bout, the results can be rather funny.
    • MMA has a similar effect to boxing, but this is mitigated in the grapple and jiu-jitsu.
    • HEMA, historical European martial arts, has a similar effect to fencing for many weapons such as rapier and longsword. However, there is an occasional inversion of this trope, such as in group combat where the lefty doesn't fit as naturally into his formation.
      • A shining example showed up in the Longpoint finals of 2017, when Axel Pettersson handily defeated Matthys Kool. Pettersson analyzed Kool's previous matches and realized that Kool's Signature Move simply would not work on a left-handed opponent. So Pettersson fought the final left-handed (in spite of being naturally right-handed) and ended up winning handily.
  • Ice hockey:
    • A large number of players learn to shoot left-handednote  even if they aren't natural lefties. If they find themselves in a situation sprinting or otherwise only holding their stick with one hand, it ends up being in their dominant right, giving them more control. More important, though, is shooting angles. Generally left-handed shooters will play the left wing and righties will play the right wing, although it's not a hard rule, and sometimes a coach will flip them depending on how he wants a play set up. It's also just a good idea to be able to handle both directions, since sticks frequently break in the middle of play. If that happens, you need to skate to the bench and grab one from a teammate so you can get back in quickly, and it's not always going to face the way yours normally does.
    • Most goalies catch with their left hand and hold their stick in their right,* but some do the opposite, and the opposing team generally has to use a different scoring strategy against them because the types of shot a left-winger might normally take on the blocker side won't be as effective if the goalie has his glove on that side (and vice versa).
  • A lot of right-handed baseball players learn how to hit left-handed because the left-handed batter's box is closer to first, giving them an edge on close plays. Also pitches that normally move away from righties will come inside on lefties, either giving them more pitches to hit or limiting a right-handed pitcher's repertoire. Subverted, however, when it comes to fielding. Left-handed fielders are almost unheard of at positions outside of pitcher, first base, or outfield because making a throw to first would require them to throw across their body.
  • In cricket, left-handed batsmen* have a distinct advantage as bowlers have to correct their line when delivering to them, which breaks their rhythm. Left-arm bowlers also have a big advantage bowling to right-handed batsmen, since the ball cuts across them at a less familiar angle.
  • Bowling is another sport that favors the left-handed. This is because bowling alleys have oil spread out onto the lanes, and at the professional level, most right-handed bowlers will trace similar paths down a lane. As they keep doing this, the bowling balls shove the oil to the side, creating grooves in the oil that throw off the ball's path more and more. Left-handed bowlers, however, are less common, and as they trace a mirrored path down the lane, they get to play with much fresher, flatter oil. This is, of course, not accounting for the off chance there happens to be more left-handed bowlers in one place than right-handed ones, but that applies to all the examples in this tab.
  • Racket sports, and tennis in particular, often have an advantage attributed to left-handed players. A good tactic in rallies is to hit to the opponent's backhand as it is (usually) weaker than the forehand. Of course, a left-hander's backhand side is the opposite to a right-hander's. Add this to the fact that rallies usually involve more cross-court shots than down-the-line, and you can easily end up stuck in a situation where you are playing from the backhand straight into the opponent's forehand every time. Plus, when receiving serve, the spin of a left-hander's serve goes in the opposite direction to a right-hander's, often making for some unpredictable and hard-to-return serves. One prominent example is Rafael Nadal, who is a natural rightie but trained to play with his left hand because of the advantage it provides him.
  • Left-handed auto racers in left-hand-drive cars benefit greatly from keeping their dominant hand on the wheel while shifting gears. Averted by the more modern Formula One steering-wheel controls which use the left hand to shift down and the right hand to shift up without ever letting go of the wheel.
  • Left-handed drivers in right-hand-drive cars can shift gears effectively if learned correctly. Since the steering wheel and the driver seat are on the right side, and the Driving Stick (or any other type of transmission) is on the left side of the driver's seat, it requires a left hand to shift the gears, thus southpaw drivers could learn it more effectively compared to righties.
  • In late antiquity/early medieval warfare, a common trick (the Saxons and maybe the Normans made good use of this) was to fight as though left handed, thus minimizing the enemies' shields and throwing them off.
  • Something seen in medieval castle tours (and linked to A Sinister Clue) is that spiral staircases in castle turrets give the advantage to the defender (the one on the higher step) if both are right-handed, as the attacker's sword movements are hampered by the ceiling and central axis. A left-handed swordsman would not have this disadvantage. There is a persistent myth that Ferniehirst Castle in Scotland was built with a spiral staircase running the opposite direction (counter-clockwise if you are looking up) to give left-handed defenders the advantage because the Kerr clan, who built the castle, were mostly lefties. There is indeed a "left-handed" spiral staircase in the castle, but no-one seems sure if the Kerr clan really had an unusual number of lefties.
  • For soldiers, law enforcement, and other such lines of work, being able to shoot using either hand adds versatility to the positions one can fire from. If exposing the smallest portion of your body to return fire requires switching hands to take better advantage of available cover, then so be it. And if injury or other circumstances make it difficult to favor one's dominant hand, being able to continue fighting while relying on the off hand can come in handy.
  • Similarly, some Roman camps were designed with a right-turning wall just behind the gate, forcing attackers to expose their unshielded right sides to defenders on the wall.
  • Anthropologists have noted that societies with higher crime rates tend to have a larger proportion of left-handed people. This is not a case of A Sinister Clue as it may seem, but rather, it's because criminals will assume their victims are right-handed and attack accordingly, meaning lefties who fight back are more likely to surprise them and survive the encounter. In other words, there are more left-handed people in such places because they're not being killed as often as right-handed people.
  • In construction teams, riveters would include a left-handed riveter if possible, as they would be able to work at angles that would be awkward to right-handed people.
  • The QWERTY keyboard, which has been the standard keyboard since the first typewriters were marketed in the 19th century, requires nearly 60% of the keystrokes to be made with the left hand.
  • Ringo Starr's distinctive drumming style comes from playing on a right-handed drum set, despite being left-handed himself. He has also been credited with popularizing the matched grip style of holding drumsticks, which he used to adapt to his drum set.
  • Like Ringo, Dennis Wilson played a right-handed drum set despite being left-handed. Unlike Ringo, Dennis also used his left hand to lead his grooves, and invented open-handed playing as a result.
  • Some naturally left-handed guitarists—such as Mark Knopfler, Joe Perry, and Jared James Nichols—choose to play guitar right-handed. There are some challenges—Nichols has admitted that part of the reason he fingerpicks is because he found it unnatural to hold a plectrum in his right hand—but there are several advantages to fretting with your dominant hand, including faster hammer-ons and pull-offs, stronger vibratos, and easier bends.
  • Some models of firearm are easier to use left-handed. The most notable example would be the Colt Single Action Army, where the loading gate is designed to be accessed while holding it in the left hand. The reason for this was that it was designed to be used by cavalry, who at the time would reserve their dominant hand for the reins. So for a right-handed user its design made sense in that context, but it also benefits left-handed shooters.