What does It Mean to be Cross Dominant?

S. Gonzales

Cross dominance is a physical motor skill phenomenon in which a person prefers to use one side of the body for certain actions and the opposite side for other actions. A dominant side for all actions does not exist in individuals who are cross dominant. They simply prefer to use the ear, eye, hand or foot opposite of their dominant side for certain activities. Problems such as clumsiness, perception trouble and balancing challenges can arise from cross dominance, but physical exercises geared toward making individuals comfortable using both sides of the body might help improve those problems.

Soccer players who are cross dominant kick the ball with a different side of their body than they use to perform other tasks.
Soccer players who are cross dominant kick the ball with a different side of their body than they use to perform other tasks.

Cross dominance can also be referred to as mixed dominance, mixed-handedness or hand-confusion. A common example of cross dominance is a person who uses one hand to write and the other to play sports. It's this type of usage of the body that makes a person dominant on opposite sides of the body, depending on the activity.

Cross dominance is common in sports, where a baseball player may pitch with a different hand than he uses to write.
Cross dominance is common in sports, where a baseball player may pitch with a different hand than he uses to write.

Although ambidexterity is considered to be a variant of cross dominance, it does not mean the same thing. Ambidextrous people can use both hands easily, but cross dominant people prefer to use one hand over the other for particular tasks. It is this distinction that makes for mixed-handedness.

Someone who is cross dominant may use his left ear to talk on the telephone and his right hand to write.
Someone who is cross dominant may use his left ear to talk on the telephone and his right hand to write.

People who are cross dominant are not regulated to just favoring sides in their hands. Cross dominant individuals can also prefer to use their opposite eyes, feet and ears for certain things. For example, a right-handed person can prefer to kick with his or her left foot.

A left-handed writer might prefer to kick with his right foot.
A left-handed writer might prefer to kick with his right foot.

Problems can be experienced when a cross dominant person feels that he or she is stronger on the non-dominant side of his or her body. This can lead to perception challenges, clumsiness and maybe even problems balancing. Aiming abilities can also suffer.

Despite the potentiality for problems caused by cross dominance, it is a relatively normal phenomenon. Some sources say that cross dominance can occur in about one-fifth of the population. To be sure, if individuals find their cross dominance to be frustrating, they can train themselves to become comfortable with the use of their non-dominant side by doing special exercises.

These types of exercises might do more than just make some people comfortable using both sides of their body. Some research has suggested that people with ear-hand cross dominance can have trouble with math and even have problems with their long-term memory. Learning how to use both sides of the body might improve performance in these areas, which can be a welcome benefit of trying to balance out cross dominance.

Cross dominance may be evident early in life.
Cross dominance may be evident early in life.

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Discussion Comments


I use my left hand for writing and my right hand for almost everything else - playing musical instruments, golf, tennis, throwing. Right hand and ear for the telephone. I'm undecided for shooting and darts since my dominant eye confuses aiming. Left foot for kicking. Right foot strictly for standing on!


I write right handed but do everything left footed.


I am cross dominant and somewhat ambidextrous. I do fine motor skill activities mostly with my left, and gross motor skill activities mostly with my right. From the earlier posts this seems to be fairly common, though I've never heard anyone discuss it in these terms. This is why I write on paper with my left, yet use my right to write on a chalkboard.


I do most things right-handed including writing. But I brush my teeth and comb my hair left-handed. I am terrible at sports, especially if aiming is required. I excel at math and music.


I'm definitely a clumsy person and am bad at math. Most of these people in the comments I can relate to. I would love to have more studies about this topic, it could help us understand more about us and maybe help some people. My brother is also cross dominance but is my opposite cross dominance and he has slight autism , maybe if we get more info we could determine why this phenomenon happens and see more traits that are associated with it.


Same case here, so that's what I'm called. A cross-dominant person. Eat and write on the right but play sports on the left. But never been clumsy the whole time. And hey, quite good in match.


Dunno if this is rare or not. I actually don't know anyone with this type of "condition" besides myself. I'm still doing a list of things that I do with my hands, for instance:

Right hand: Throwing balls, basketball, handball, arm wrestling, preferred foot for football, using a compass, writing with chalk, computer mouse, holding a sabre.

Left hand: Preferred eye, writing with a pen/pencil on a paper, scissors, playing darts, toothbrush, brush, ping-pong/badminton rackets, snooker cue, holding a rifle.


I used both my hands to write or play sports. People say that is weird but I don't care.


I didn't knew this was actually a physical motor skill phenomenon, I use mostly the right hand for writing, holding equipment like hammers and spanners, but I use the left hand mostly for throwing like in baseball for example.

I also seem to have a stronger left foot than the right one when shooting in football as well.

As for problems, I seem to be a bit clumsy every now and then but I don't seem to have bad perception, balance or aim (in fact quite the other way around), and Maths was always one of my favorite subjects.


I did not know this was a common phenomenon. I use my right hand for writing, holding a screwdriver, ironing, hitting, etc. I use my left hand for basketball, throwing a baseball, arrow and other. In some activities I am totally mixed. I hold the fork with my right hand, but if I eat with a fork and a knife, I have to hold the fork in my left hand. I play soccer with my right leg. I was never good at maths and have memory problems. I could otherwise be considered an intelligent person.


I'm cross dominant too. I write, eat, brush my teeth my left, and play sport and use scissors with my right. The annoying thing is when people keep asking me to try play a sport like Badminton with my left hand, which I can't do.


I thought I was one of only a few, relatively, who are like this. I write, play golf, darts, pool, snooker left handed (just to name a few) but I kick a ball with my right foot. Although, I've never noticed it to affect the way I do things, just that it's there.


I am cross dominant too, but I am not clumsy nor do I have problems with math. As a matter of fact (I am a bit crazy, I guess), I took calculus as an elective rather than marketing that I found to be extremely boring. I eat, write, play tennis and bowl right handed. I kick a ball, bat, throw, and clean left handed.


I am cross dominant. I write with my right hand and play soccer with my left foot. I am clumsy and I hate math!


Are people cross dominant if they write with their right hand but they throw a football or shoot a basketball with their left? Does this make them left handed also? If someone asks me if I am right-handed or left-handed, can I say both?


Always knew I was, just didn't know what to call it. I throw a ball right-handed, I write right-handed. But anything to do with using two hands, such as swinging a baseball, golf, pool (billiards), and I do it naturally left handed. That's just what feels right to me and always has. I recently took an online left brain / right brain test and I came up equal.


I always knew I was cross dominant, but only now found out that it is relatively common; I didn't even know there was a name for it.

I am super-clumsy, cannot play golf or mini golf (so what!) and cannot find things right in front of me. In spite of my motor skills being somewhat awkward, I do make a good living as an draughtsman. All in all a bit odd, but it seems to work.

Glad there are others out there (hi), never knew!


I'm cross dominant and I actually find it very useful, although I am pretty clumsy, and I find it hard to find something that someone tells me is directly in front of me.


I'm cross dominant and I find it helpful with certain activities.


I am cross dominant and I find it very useful. One time I was working on some needlepoint (right handed) and I also had some unusable yarn that had to be cut up to use a stuffing for a pillow (cut left handed). I would do needlepoint for a while and then cut for a while. My mother had the same projects but had to take a break because she is 100 percent right handed and got tired. I also have found that I am an excellent typist because of this ability.


This is all very good and interesting, but I want to know if there is a reason behind the many famous people of the arts and science, such as Beethoven, Einstein and Leonardo di Vinci all having cross-dominance. Perhaps it helps in connecting the two sides of the brain?

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