BEWARE of the lefties at the Asian Games!
Left-handed shuttlers can be a handful and the right strategy and a cool head must be used to counter them.
Former men’s singles great Datuk James Selvaraj believes that lefties have a natural advantage on court.
“It’s difficult to play against lefties as they can smash easily when shots are returned towards their forehand,” said James.
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“During the crucial stages in a match when players are tired or under pressure, they tend to forget that they are playing against a leftie.
“This will hamper their movement. A leftie can dominate if he takes full advantage of his natural gifts.”
James cited Japan’s two-time former world champion Kento Momota from recent times as a prime example of a left-handed player, who was successful in the game.
“Momota was dominating for some time,” said James.
“This is because opponents were making the same mistakes again and again.
“They were hitting returns towards his forehand, making it easy for him to kill the shuttle.
Before that, China’s great Lin Dan was another left-handed player, who excelled in the game. There were a few others from the 1970s and 1980s too.
In Malaysia, some of the left-handed are former players Wong Choong Hann (men’s singles), Soo Beng Kiang, Tan Boon Heong (men’s doubles) and Woon Khe Wei (women’s doubles).
James felt that in the doubles, a left- and right-handed combination can be very dangerous.
“The doubles game is much faster than the singles,” said James.
“So it’s even more difficult to handle a left- and right-handed combination.
“In the 1980s, South Korea’s Park Joo-bong and Kim Moon-soo were world and Olympic champions. Moon-soo was a leftie while Joo-bong was right-handed.”
Joo-bong is still enjoying success at the top of the game as head coach of the Japanese national team.
Another left- and right-handed men’s doubles pair, who enjoyed tremendous success were China’s Fu Haifeng (leftie) and Cai Yun.
The pair captured the Olympic gold twice (2012 and 2016) and the World Championships four times (2006, 2009, 2010, 2011) among other accolades.
On playing against left- and right-handed pairs, James said: “Coaches need to do their homework and come up with the right strategy against these pairs.
“Players also must have a plan B if the original strategy does not work.
“If you don’t strategise well, you will be in trouble when the game starts.”