Study: Clenched Left Hand Improves High Pressure Performance
Strange but true: athletes in high pressure situations –playing soccer, badminton or doing tae kwon do in front of large audiences or cameras–have been shows to perform better when they make a fist with their left hand. The Atlantic reports that the German researchers who conducted the tests theorized that the kind of panic that leads to choking under pressure is mainly a left-brain phenomenon, while the right hemisphere of the brain handles the actual mechanics of movement. They also knew that the cortex of the right hemisphere controls movements of the left side of the body, and the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body. The Atlantic reports that the researchers figured that if you can purposely activate the right hemisphere, say, by making a fist or squeezing a ball with your left hand — it could draw focus away from the trouble-making left hemisphere, and improve performance. Next, they put their theory to the test, with soccer, badminton and tae kwon do, performed under pressure and with no pressure, with left hands balled into fists and not balled into fists, and with right hands balled into fists. What did they find? Athletes who made a fist with their left hand did better under pressure than when they made a fist with their right hand — and often as well as in the low-pressure practice scenarios. Note well: all of the athletes were right-handed. Doubtful? Try it the next time you’re on the tennis court. Read more in the Atlantic.