by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
In both contests Denmark fielded the same trio, they selected Jonathan Groth, Michael Maze and Anders Lind.
One common factor and there is another, all three are left handed; now three players in a Men’s Team in Halmstad is not unusual. In fact it applies to China, Xu Xin, Lin Gaoyuan and Wang Chuqin are all left handed.
However, the striking factor with Demark is even if the make a change to their line up for the ensuing fixtures, the selection will still comprise three left handers. Mikkel Hindersson and Tobias Rasmussen, the two members of the squad who are yet to lay racket on ball, are also left handed!
Now, I can think of occasions when the whole squad has been right handed, all have been pen-hold grip player, all attackers or whatever but not all left handers. Are the chances of such an occurrence the same as choosing the numbers that win the national lottery?
It is generally recognised that about 12 per cent of the world’s population is left handed but then there are people, estimated at 30 per cent, who for certain tasks change hands. Also we can add to the equation those who are ambidextrous, for those of us privileged to watch Poland’s late Andrzej Grubba, he was able to change from his usual right to left hand and produce ae forehand top spin that was lethal.
So, with so many left handers, does Denmark have an advantage?
The research carried out by Florian Loffing from the Institute of Sport Science at University of Oldenburg in Germany suggests not. He advises that the over representation of left handers is visible in time pressure sports with the most prominent presence in interactive sports being witnessed in baseball, cricket and table tennis.
Notably, in the interactive sports, no great advantage for left handers is perceived. Pertinently, only three left handed players – Stellan Bengtsson, Jean-Philippe Gatien, Seiji Ono – have won the Men’s Singles title at a World Championships.
However, as techniques develop, is two left handers in harmony as a doubles pair the ideal option? It is generally accepted that a left hander partnering a right hander is the best formula, next is two right handers followed by two left handers.
Italy’s Massimo Costantini, the national coach for India, suggests otherwise. Now the so-called “banana” return of service from the backhand with forearm vertical, wrist relaxed and the racket circumnavigating the ball is common practice. Thus for the right hander partnering a left hander and standing in the traditional position when returning service, it is difficult to exercise the skill but for two left hands very simple.
Think about it! The decision is left to you.