Rafael Nadal and Phil Mickelson: Left is Right
It is said that 70-90% of people in the world are naturally right handed. But suppose later on in life, there’s a need to change your natural instinct so as to excel in your performances. How many of you would try risking the transition and if so how difficult would the transition be?
Here is the case of two modern sporting greats, both of them champions in their respective sports. They have one thing in common: They are both naturally right-handed and apart from their playing, none of their activities is performed with the left hand.
Phil Mickelson, Four Times Major Champion, Golf
Nicknamed as the Lefty, it’s strange that apart from when playing golf, he is right handed in everything else. At the young age of three, Mickelson started learning the trades of the game from his father Phil Mickelson Sr. He learned most of his golf by watching his right-handed father swing and thus finally when he became a professional golfer, he actually had mirrored his father’s style. So incredible was his concentration that he just saw and practiced what was in front of his eye. At times he tried running away from home because his parents didn’t think he was old enough to join his father for a weekend golf game at the local public course.
Mickelson is a true champion both on and off the field with the tag of People’s favorite behind him and why not, he has spent most of his career behind Tiger Woods as the second best player in the golfing world. To his credit he has as many as 47 wins on PGA and other tours which include 4 major( 3 Masters and 1 PGA Championship). However the agony of finishing 2nd five times in his home major US Open is something that continues to haunt him. Hopefully in the years to come, Big Phil will get his name on the trophy and pay his full debt to his father for teaching him the sport as the perfect Father’s Day gift.
Rafael Nadal, Ten Time Grandslam Winner, Tennis
Arguably the greatest left hander the sport of tennis has seen after the great John McEnroe, it is interesting to note that Nadal was not a lefty when he started playing the sport. He started playing tennis at age four using a two-handed forehand and backhand grip. At the age of twelve his uncle and coach Toni Nadal suggested him to adopt a more conventional left-handed style. So finally Nadal got rid of the double handed forehand, but however chose to stick with the double handed backhand.
Almost a decade since his switch to playing as a left hander, his greatest asset is his destructive forehand. The amount of spin he generates, combined with the pace he puts on the ball is so difficult for an opponent to deal with. It’s the ability to shift gears, convert defense into attack and switch to forehand from backhand which has often led to undoing of the opponents. His remarkable tally of 11 Grand slams,19 Masters titles, the clay court dominance, Career Grandslam, Olympic Gold Medal is a clear indication of the fact that left is right for Rafa.