So, you’ve heard that using your left and right hand with the same ease and expertise can make you more efficient and smarter. Now you want to get both of your hands equally, well, handy. Prepare to gain the upper hand over the lefties and righties out there! Coming up: your step-by-step guide to ambidexterity.
Through consistent practice, you can train yourself to write confidently and competently with your non-dominant hand. Start with simple activities like tracing, and gradually progress to more challenging tasks like writing out the alphabet and eventually writing full words and sentences.
Training yourself to become ambidextrous can be challenging. You’ll be trying to form new brain connections by going against the comfort and familiarity of using your dominant hand – shaking up how your grey matter works – and this will take daily practice. Up for the challenge? Let’s go!
How To Write With Both Hands
There’s no hack for picking up ambidexterity overnight. Learning to write with both hands is like mastering any new skill – it takes days of disciplined practice.
Teaching yourself to become ambidextrous is tricky because it involves switching up your brain connections.
You see, most people favor one side of the brain over the other. If you prefer the left side of your brain, your right hand is your dominant one. On the other hand, lefties prefer the right side of their brain. (In naturally ambidextrous people, there’s no preference.)
To become two-handed, you’ll need to start relying more on the less-used side of your brain. And this takes effort. Grit your teeth and push through the tough brain workout because even if you’ve been using one hand more than the other for decades, ambidexterity isn’t beyond your grasp.
You’ve just got to get used to swapping hands. If you consistently use your non-dominant hand for most of your tasks, over time, you’ll manipulate this hand with growing ease, boosting your potential for ambidexterity.
Becoming Ambidextrous: A Step-By-Step Guide
It’s unlikely that you’ll learn to use your right and left hand with identical skill, but you can teach yourself how to write almost as fast and neatly with both hands.
Follow these six steps, and you’ll be wielding your pen with increasing mastery.
Step # 1: Trace Shapes And Letters
Like with all learning, it’s best to get the basics right first and then move on to more complicated tasks. So, start with tracing.
Using your non-dominant hand, trace lines, shapes, patterns, and large letters on sheets of paper. Children use this effective technique when they’re first learning to write.
Bring out your inner child even more by tracing with rainbow-colored chunky crayons instead of a pen. Fat crayons are easier to hold and manipulate than more slender writing utensils.
Step # 2: Practice Holding Your Pen Naturally
Once you’re confidently tracing with crayons, try with a pen.
Pay attention to how you’re holding the pen. The way you position your fingers is the same whether you’re writing with your left or right hand: pinch your pen with your index finger and thumb, resting it on your middle finger. This technique lets you move your fingers and wrist easily.
Learning will be easier if you’re relaxed and your hand feels comfortable, so loosen that grip and breathe deeply (no matter how awkward writing with the other hand might feel).
Plus, watch your posture. If your posture is on point, it’s easier to write. Anything to make learning to write with your other hand easier, right? Here’s a quick writing posture checklist: keep your shoulders relaxed, core strong, writing arm and wrist on the table, hips and knees at 90 degrees, and feet flat on the floor.
Step # 3: Write Every Day
When trying to conquer two-handedness, consistency is key. You’ll need to make training your non-dominant hand part of your daily routine to get results. Aim to trace or write with the hand for about half an hour every day.
Why not save time by doing your ambidexterity training and writing out (erm, scrawling) your day’s to-do list in one?
Step # 4: Write Out The Alphabet
When you feel ready to move beyond tracing, start writing letters on your own. Practice writing a few letters of the alphabet again and again until you feel you’ve got their form right. Then practice writing out the whole alphabet repeatedly, trying to get the letters more and more precise each time.
Write out your ABCs (upper and lower case), focusing on perfecting the letters’ slant, size, spacing, shape, and smoothness.
Step # 5: Make Your Non-Dominant Hand Stronger
Make it a goal to build up the muscles in your non-dominant hand by using it for tasks that you used to reserve for your dominant hand.
Whether you’re brushing your teeth, holding your cell phone, eating with a spoon, peeling a banana, or moving your computer mouse, let your non-dominant hand be the star for a change. Also, swap your watch to your non-dominant wrist.
What if you can’t seem to stop yourself instinctively using your dominant hand for your main tasks? Well, if you’re serious about becoming two-handed, you could tie this hand behind your back, giving you no option but to let your non-dominant hand take over.
Also, practice using your non-dominant hand for sports activities, like throwing, bouncing, and catching a ball, or swinging your tennis racket.
Give extra strength to your non-dominant hand by doing hand exercises, like squeezing a stress ball.
Step # 6: Write Sentences
By now, your non-dominant hand should be stronger, and your brain should be getting used to instructing it to do increasingly complicated tasks. Next up: further challenge your hand and brain by using them to write out short sentences.
Be gentle with yourself if you struggle – you’re rewiring your brain, after all!
As your confidence and competence grow, make your sentences longer. Keep it up, and you might eventually find yourself naturally reaching for the pen with your once-non-dominant hand when you want to write!
A Crash Course In Writing With Two Hands
If your goal is just to write legibly with your non-dominant hand, not to write with speed and great skill, you can cut down your practicing time.
You can teach yourself how to use your other hand to write words that are clear enough to be read (though not necessarily beautiful to look at) in as few as 10 consecutive days, according to one study. The best part: you need to practice for only a few minutes every day.
The study participants (adult men and women of different ages) completed a simple daily two-part writing task using their non-dominant hand:
- Part one: write The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog twice.
- Part two: write the alphabet twice, once in upper case and once in lower case.
After doing the task for 10 days in a row, all participants could write legibly with their non-dominant hand. For quick, not perfect results, you could try this shortcut to writing with two hands too.
The study found that lefties were initially better at switching to right-handed writing than righties to left-handed writing. This isn’t surprising when you consider that learning to write with your left hand is known to be more difficult (even for left-handed people) than learning to write with your right.
How To Beat The Struggle Of Switching To Left-Handed Writing
So, righties might have a harder time swapping to left-handed writing than the other way round. Let’s see where the problems with left-handed writing lurk.
Writing from left to right is more challenging for lefties. Whereas righties pull the pen across the page, lefties need to push the pen. This writing method can result in smudged work and a sore arm. Lefties might also hook their wrist while writing, an awkward position that feels uncomfortable.
Only about 10% of us are left-handed, so you’re likely a righty looking for ways to make the switch easier. Well, here are the tips you’re looking for!
Left-Handed Writing Tip # 1: How To Hold Your Pen
Hold your pen about 1 to 1.5 inches from the tip to give you a better view of what you’re writing.
There’s a fun trick to getting a feeling for the proper wrist positioning for left-handed writing: stick a sheet of paper on the underside of a table, then lie under the table and practice your writing on the page. Gravity will help you get your wrist position right.
Left-Handed Writing Tip # 2: How To Position Your Paper
Put your paper slightly to your left to help you see what you’re writing. Tilt the page at about 30 degrees (the left corner should be higher) to let you rest your elbow on the table and position your wrist comfortably. Use your right hand to keep the page still while you’re writing.
Left-Handed Writing Tip # 3: How To Cross Your Letters
When making cross strokes (the little horizontal lines) on the letters A, E, F, G, H, I, J, T, f, and t, instead of the usual left-to-right way, try making the lines from right to left. This can make left-handed writing a little easier.
To help you get the hang of leftie writing, you could even try writing whole words or even sentences backward.
Proof That You Can Learn Ambidexterity
For days when you struggle to get control of your other hand and want to give up, think of all the big names who’ve taught themselves to be two-handed. It can be done!
Here are just a few people who got it right:
- Tennis pro Maria Sharapova is apparently naturally left-handed but was coached from young to master her right hand, too.
- Artist Leonardo Da Vinci also learned to skillfully use both hands after injuring his dominant right hand as a child.
- Scientist and engineer Nikola Tesla is another noteworthy person who started life as a leftie and later became ambidextrous.
- Some believe even Einstein taught himself to write with both hands.
Is Ambidexterity Worth The Effort?
Whether the time and energy required to become ambidextrous are worth it depends on your reasons for developing this ability. So, think about whether being two-handed will make your life any better.
Suppose you’re an old-school voracious writer (who still uses pen and paper). In this case, being able to write with both hands would be useful – hand cramping up from too much writing? Just swap hands, and you’re good to keep going! Accidently smashed your fingers in the car door? Write with the other hand while you heal.
If you want to give your sports performance an edge, ambidexterity might help. Two-handedness could also let musicians and artists create with greater flair. And if your job involves lots of picking up and passing objects, like a dental assistant, ambidexterity would probably be handy.
However, perhaps reconsider if your motivation is the supposed brain boost that comes with ambidexterity.
It’s widely believed that by training your non-dominant hand, you’re also training your brain to work more efficiently. Many also think that using your opposite hand will keep your brain sharp as you age. Unfortunately, scientific studies have found no evidence to support these claims.
And if you’re aiming for ambidexterity so you can join the dexterous elite (about 1% of the world’s population are naturally ambidextrous) – well, only you know whether that’s worth the effort.
Learning to write with both hands comes down to training your brain to successfully manipulate a pen (or any writing utensil) with your non-dominant hand. This takes consistent, long-term practice, as you’re essentially trying to break the habit of using only your dominant hand for this complicated task.
Following a step-by-step program involving daily practice (first introducing your non-dominant hand to easy tasks, then tackling challenges) should help you progress from clumsy to dexterous!