Lateralization in Sport.
By observing the organization of our body we can see that there is a certain symmetry, where both members and internal organs are duplicated.
Even our brain has two hemispheres, which have similar appearance but are not identical.
Each one is specialized in performing certain functions, while the left hemisphere is related to speech, analytical and logical thinking, the right hemisphere is associated to emotions, holistic thinking and creativity.
Moreover, if we refer to motor activity, each hemisphere controls the contralateral half of the body, meaning that the left hemisphere controls the movements made by the right half of the body and vice versa.
Laterality is the functional domain of one side of the body over the other, it manifests itself in the preference to selectively use of a certain member (hand, foot, eye, ear) to perform specific activities.
This predilection is the result of a process of learning and practice during childhood (lateralization), it is evidenced as a tendency at the age of 4 and stabilized at the age of 6, when the child becomes aware of his own left and right (on himself).
It is not until the age of 8 that the child can recognize the left and right of others.
This progressive affirmation of laterality (lateralization) enables the child to orient in the space which contributes to his/her motor evolution (Bilbao, Oña, 2000).
This laterality not only refers to the use of a specific hand, but also the preference of an eye, one shoulder, a waist, a leg or a foot.
The choice of one side over the other in each of them determines that different people, facing the same situation, move their body differently.
Obviously this affects the technique developed by athletes and also the most suitable training for everyone.
There is a major proportion of dexterous (87%) in the world population.
Usually the child manifests a preference for one hand during lateralization, but there are some children who are skilled with both hands and they can exchange their dominant hand depending on the day. In these cases where there is no preference, the coach can guide the lateralization towards the skillful hand.
Studies show that there is a different speed of response depending on the eye used. The movements produced as a result of stimulation of the dominant eye have shorter reaction than those evoked by the nondominant eye (Minucci, Connors, 1964).
They also found that the effect of the dominant eye varied if the person was left-handed or right-handed and it also varied with the location in space of the stimulus which the person should react to (Chaumillon, R., Blouin, J., Guillaume, A., 2014).
The relationships between eye-hand dominance and eye-foot dominance have a key role in motor skills and sports performance.
The knowledge of laterality that the athlete has allows us a better understanding of his/her technique and the development of a customized training which enhance his/her nondominant hand (Dorochenko, Paul).
FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE
Do you know your laterality?
Do you need exercises that help you to identify it?
Do you have athletes in lateralization process?
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Bilbao, A., Oña, A. (2000). La lateralidad motora como habilidad entrenable. Efectos del aprendizaje sobre el cambio de tendencia lateral. Revista Motricidad, 7-27.
Chaumillon, R., Blouin, J., Guillaume, A. (2014). Eye dominance influences triggering action: the Poffenberger paradigm revisited. www.sciencedirect.com
Dorochenko, Paul. El ojo director.
Minucci, P., Connors, M. (1964) Reaction time under three viewing conditions: binocular, dominant eye and nondominant eye. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 268-275.
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