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.
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.
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.
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.
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.