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Face Shape May Predict Athletic Ability

Update Date: Apr 10, 2013 04:05 AM EDT

A man's face shape may predict how well he'll do in sports, according to a new study on Japanese athletes.

Scientists found that baseball players with wide faces were more likely to hit homes runs than those with long faces, AFP reported.

Researchers at the University of London looked at photographs of Japan's professional Central League Pennant and measured the facial width and height of 104 players who played in the 2011 and 102 players who played in 2012.  According to Live Science, 81 of the baseball players in the study overlapped from season to season.

After comparing the players' facial width-to-height rations with their batting averages, home runs, sluggish percentage (total base count per at-bat), hits and runs batted in (at-bat opportunities that resulted in a run being scored by them or by other players already on base), researchers found that the wider a player's face relative to facial height, the more likely he was to be a better player overall.

The findings revealed that in 2011, players with wider faces had more home runs, higher slugging percentages and more runs batted in.  In the 2012 season, players with wider faces again made more home runs, leading researchers to link larger width-to-height face ratios with stronger athletic performance.

Researchers also found that younger players tended to have wider faces, or greater width-to-height facial ratios, but researchers still cannot explain this link.

"We predicted the first two findings, but were surprised by the age link," study researcher Hikaru Tsujimura, a research assistant at Goldsmiths, University of London told Live Science. "This requires further investigation."

Past studies have also found links between face ratio and competitiveness among politicians and financial success among corporate chiefs.  Men with wider faces have also been shown to have greater hand-grip strength. However, most of the research had been conducted with Caucasian men.

Researchers said the latest findings suggest the link between facial ratio and personality and performance "may be generalizable across cultures," according to the study published April 9 in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

Researchers still cannot explain the link between facial bulk and athletic success.  However, researchers say broader face shape could be an indicator of higher testosterone levels, which may contribute to higher levels of aggression, strength and drive.

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