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Your fate is in your hands? Handedness, digit ratio (2D:4D), and selection to a national talent development system

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Over the past decade a small evidence base has highlighted the potential importance of seemingly innocuous variables related to one's hands, such as hand dominance and the relative length of the second and fourth digits (2D:4D ratio), to success in sport. This study compared 2D:4D digit ratio and handedness among handball players selected to advance in a national talent development system with those not selected. Participants included 480 youth handball players (240 females and 240 males) being considered as part of the talent selection programme for the German Youth National team. Hand dominance and digit ratio were compared to age-matched control data using standard t-tests. There was a greater proportion of left-handers compared to the normal population in males but not in females. There was also a lower digit ratio in both females and males. However, there were no differences between those selected for the next stage of talent development and those not selected on either handedness or digit ratio. These results add support for general effects for both digit ratio and handedness in elite handball; however, these factors seem inadequate to explain talent selection decisions at this level.
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Keywords: Athlete development; Sport; Talent identification

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Kinesiology and Health Science York University, Toronto, Canada 2: Department of Health Sciences, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Canada 3: Institute of Applied Training Science, Leipzig, Germany 4: Institute of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany

Publication date: December 1, 2013

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