Newswise — GRAND FORKS, N.D. – A father-son research partnership has found that athletic prowess could be related to the length of your fingers.

Grant Tomkinson, a professor of kinesiology and public health education department at the University of North Dakota, conducted research with his son Jordan, a junior at Sacred Heart School.

The research paper, “Digit ratio (2D:4D) and muscular strength in adolescent boys,” was recently published in the Journal of Early Human Development and explores the difference in length between one’s index finger and ring finger, and a possible link to muscular strength.

They found that the ratio of the length of the second (“pointer”) finger and the length of the fourth (“ring”) finger—called the “digit ratio”—is favorably related to muscular strength in boys.

“Examine the fingers of your hand,” said Grant Tomkinson. “Which is longer: the index finger—the finger you use to point with—or your ring finger?”

He said the ring finger in males is typically longer than the index finger, whereas the fingers are about the same length in females.

“There is some indirect evidence that this digit ratio of the length of the fingers, is determined during early fetal development by testosterone—the more testosterone the fetus produces, the longer the ring finger, so the smaller the digit ratio,” he says.

“Testosterone is the natural steroid hormone that enhances sport, athletic and fitness test performance. In general, people with smaller digit ratios are better athletes.

“Our study shows that boys with lower digit ratios have better handgrip strength, irrespective of their age or body size,” Tomkinson said.

Because muscular strength is important for success in many youth sports and athletic events, the finding suggests that the digit ratio may predict performance in youth sports and athletic events requiring high strength. Muscular strength is also an important indicator of good health, and those with lower digit ratios probably have better general health and well-being, Tomkinson said.

One of Tomkinson’s graduate students, Makailah Dyer, has also found that females with lower digit ratios are better basketball players.


Contact Dr. Grant Tomkinson at 701-777-4041 or [email protected]

Register for reporter access to contact details

Journal of Early Human Development