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Author Topic: Throwing Like a Girl  (Read 1089 times)

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Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Throwing Like a Girl
« on: March 30, 2015, 03:09:39 AM »
OK, so I'm not talking about the very worthy #likeagirl thing, I'm doing this here instead of PROC deliberately.  I'm talking about the, lets be honest here, very real physical phenomenon that some people - and again lets be honest, mainly female - have.  This came up in a post I'm writing and, well, *stands up* My name's Kythia and I throw like a girl.

Ninety odd per cent of my PE lessons at school were spent pretending to be on my period so I could smoke with my friends, and now I have no idea how to throw.  And my soon-to-be-ex boyfriend seems to think laughter is the appropriate response when I asked him to teach me how to do it.  So I'm reaching out to you lovely and unlaughing folk of E.  What the fuck am I doing wrong here?  Is this something that can be explained textually?  If not, does anyone know a good video source or something - everything I've googled comes up with #likeagirl stuff.

On the far from 100% of occasions where the ball goes in the direction I wanted it to it has no force at all and often falls short.  I go to the gym pretty much every day and have, you know, relatively toned arms from the rowing machine and cross-trainer - while I might not be olympic javelin thrower standard I don't think this is a physical strength limitation.  I kind of thought it might be a boob thing, that I was moving my arm different to avoid hitting the girls, but now I don't think it is.

Is anyone able to help?  Am I being ridiculous here?  I haven't slept for a couple of days so its possible I am.

Online Oniya

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Re: Throwing Like a Girl
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2015, 08:10:16 AM »
What kind of ball are you throwing?  Balls with seams (baseball, tennis ball) have different aerodynamics from smooth balls (squash ball, racquetball).  Long balls (American football, rugby ball) are also different from round balls (all the previous ones).  Personally, I'd eliminate using the fact that you're 'a girl' from your searching, because the mechanics of the upper body are pretty much the same.  I found a ton of instructional videos on YouTube with the search phrase 'How to throw a baseball'.

And next time your soon-to-be-ex laughs at you, aim for the catcher's glove that's (not really) behind him.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2015, 08:11:41 AM by Oniya »

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Throwing Like a Girl
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2015, 09:39:40 AM »
And next time your soon-to-be-ex laughs at you, aim for the catcher's glove that's (not really) behind him.

I'm not sure whether the two or related or its separate crippling lacks of ability, but I can't reliably aim.  Frisbees are the worse for it, I just bow out of that now.  Nine times out of ten I can get it in like a 30 degree arc centred on where I want it to go, but honestly its not unheard of for it to just go directly downwards when I mistime the release or something.  I know it sounds like I have some sort of real physical disability here but I don't, I just never seemed to have mastered the sequence of movements.  The pain caused by my lifetime of getting up to give someone the remote rather than just casually tossing it over (oh, how I envy those who can just, without looking, propel it towards its target) is difficult to entirely quantify but I'd say its roughly a seven.

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Re: Throwing Like a Girl
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2015, 09:52:19 AM »
I was thinking after, ya know, watching the videos and practicing in secret for a while.  ^^;

I have no idea how people aim Frisbees.

In a few low-power experiments with balls of yarn - not bringing the shoulder into it yet - I've noticed that when I throw (and it goes where I want it to go), I've held the ball almost like a catapult.  Elbow forward, hand back to my shoulder, ball resting in my hand.  As I throw, my index and middle finger end up pointing at where I want the ball to go.

(Don't ask me about catching.  There is a running joke in our house about how terribly I catch.)

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Throwing Like a Girl
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2015, 09:56:59 AM »
Yeah, ditto for frisbees.  Honestly the direction it goes in is almost entirely random.  And ditto for catching as well, if you imagine me flinching slightly with my eyes closed and kinda flailing my arms around then you're pretty much spot on in your mental image of me attempting to catch.  I ruled that out as a life skill long ago, now I just flee and pick it up from the floor.

My own balled up sock related experiments earlier gave no new data.  Hand vertical from the elbow as if I'm waving or something then kinda pushing it vaguely forwards.

Offline eBadger

Re: Throwing Like a Girl
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2015, 10:06:49 AM »
First, practice is a big thing for anything the body does.  Fine motor control is learned more than it is natural talent.  If you want to throw well, you need to throw. 

Also, I did the Marine thing and one of the lessons picked up along the way through basic is that very few people are really aware of their actual physical limitations.  We are culturally trained not to use our full strength, not to throw as hard as we can, etc.  One of the simplest ways to counter that is to trick your mind by intentionally over-shooting.  In martial arts they often tell students not to punch the person, but to punch something behind them; for throwing, don't just toss it to your target, throw it through it to an imaginary object another 20' further away. 

If you've never done much at a gym, you can try that as well.  Find a trainer that will really push your limits and force you to work harder than you think you're able. 

As for throwing specifically, there are lots of different types but if you're thinking of something like a baseball, understand that most of the force is created by a whipsnap motion in the elbow and wrist, not just the arm, and for aiming try to finish by pointing your arm toward your target. 

And yes, the concept of getting a frisbie to go where intended is an arcane art known only to a rare order of tibetan monks and those kids at the park. 

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Re: Throwing Like a Girl
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2015, 10:26:57 AM »
One of the simplest ways to counter that is to trick your mind by intentionally over-shooting.  In martial arts they often tell students not to punch the person, but to punch something behind them; for throwing, don't just toss it to your target, throw it through it to an imaginary object another 20' further away.   

Hence my suggestion about the imaginary catcher behind the ex.  ^^

But practicing with the socks would be a start - set up a laundry basket next to a wall across the room and just start pitching.  Try to throw through the wall just above the basket.  The more joints you get involved in the throw, the more force you can generate (which is why baseball pitchers do that little dance on the mound - a pro pitcher involves everything from the hips on up as best as I can see), but start with accuracy.  When you can get it in the basket more than 75% of the time, move the basket down the hall. 

Offline Eranil Morathim

Re: Throwing Like a Girl
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2015, 11:20:41 AM »
Oni, you were one the right track with accuracy, with you fingers kind of directing. I just now tried to break down how I throw in my head. My brain is still working on it. Kythia, assuming you are throwing a baseball or similar, I think we can break this down. A big part of it is going to be arm position. what feels natural? Some people prefer sidearm to overhand, and theres every arm position in between. Find where it feels best for you and we go from there.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Throwing Like a Girl
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2015, 11:30:34 AM »
I'm in the UK.  A lot of these baseball references are going right by me.  I've just googled an image of one but still have no clear mental picture of the size.  Can we talk about tennis balls?

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Re: Throwing Like a Girl
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2015, 11:56:26 AM »
Tennis balls have a similar aerodynamic with the saddle-shaped seams in them, so the mechanics of throwing are about the same.  Cricket balls might be a little different, since there's only a circular seam, but we're not talking about deliberately pitching curves at this point.

Offline Pipaluk

Re: Throwing Like a Girl
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2015, 01:38:46 PM »
I've always hated those ads. I like what they're trying to do, but they miss the mark. Girls naturally throw like girls. The earliest ad was funny because the little girls when told to "run like a girl" ran like a girl in the pejorative way the ad was trying to negate. Taken as a group, boys tend to naturally be better at throwing than girls. That said, individually there are plenty of girls who naturally throw properly and there are plenty of guys who "throw like girls." But I digress.

I'm not going to get into everything (who has the time for that?). Throwing is practised. Some people are naturally better than others, but everyone gets good by practising.

First the main problems:
  • Girls tend to grip the ball like they are holding an egg in their palm. All four fingers close together, the ball in their palm, and the thumb near the fingers pointed in the same direction.
  • Caused in part by the above error, people who aren't natural throwers tend to keep their elbow forward and wrist straight.
  • All arm, no body.

To throw properly, there are many different steps that all need to come together. For some people it feels natural, for others, nothing feels natural. The important factors for throwing properly are:

Proper Grip of the Ball

The grip can differ from person to person, but in the end what needs to happen is your hand creates almost a naturally feeling box around the ball cornered by your thumb, two or three middle fingers, and one or two end fingers. Your ring finger and pinky can really be anywhere on the side of the ball, but they need to be on the side, not the top to support the ball and close that "box" I'm talking about.

Where you grip on the ball doesn't really matter. I prefer to grip against the seems (lines in the tennis ball), others grip with the seems as pictured.

Use your Wrist
Once you grip the ball properly, place your elbow on a desk with you hand straight up, and just practice throwing the ball by ONLY flicking your wrist: See here for what I mean:

Turn Sideways when you throw
Most people who "throw like girls" try to throw facing the target. You should be sideways with your throwing arm behind you. Step forward with the front foot, pivot your torso into the throw. See the next part of that video linked to above.

Everything Twists
When you start your throw,  you are gripping the ball, you twist your body sideways and extend your arm. The ball is now facing away from your body and away from the person you are throwing at. Then in a smooth twisting motion everything seems to happen. You begin twisting your body towards your target, your elbow bends up as your wrist turns around so that the ball is facing the target. Then as you finish your rotation, your forearm and wrist snap down and you release the ball. It's hard to describe via text, and you'd probably be better off watching other people throw and copying them.

But having played a lot of sports (softball, tennis, among others), and being quite proficient with... erm... balls. I couldn't pass up weighing in on this topic.

Offline Eranil Morathim

Re: Throwing Like a Girl
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2015, 02:01:39 PM »
Tenis balls are a good reference, close to the same size and the grip would be the same.

Offline KythiaTopic starter

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Re: Throwing Like a Girl
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2015, 02:25:57 PM »
Thank you pipaluk.  I'm not entirely sure what "all arm no body" is but everything is else, yeah, is pretty much how I roll.  I'm gonna practice that.  If my soon-to-be-ex had have just said all of that instead of laughing then he might not have got ground up glass in his tea.

Thanks

Offline AndyZ

Re: Throwing Like a Girl
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2015, 05:31:41 PM »


I have a hypothesis that the early gender social conditioning is part of this.  I got put through the phase of being told how awesome baseball players are, and as a child, I was naturally (and probably unintentionally) guided into the decision that I wanted to play baseball, despite an abject lack of talent.

I imagine the reason that he laughed was because he can't remember a time when he didn't know how to throw, but I refer to the above comic.  Even an Olympic gymnast didn't somersault out of the womb.

This video talks about cricket balls.  I...think cricket is in the UK?  I think it's a UK accent but I'm terrible with accents, and if it's Australia, New Zealand or one of the others where I just don't know how to tell, I apologize.

Spoiler: Click to Show/Hide

Oh, and "all arm no body" is where you only move your arm and don't move anything else.  When people move, their entire bodies commit to the act, in the same way that your arms swing and thighs sway while you walk.  Notice how the torso swings in order to increase momentum and throw even faster and harder, rather than putting all the effort into just your arm.



Ultimately, though, it ends up being a huge series of split-second near-autonomic reactions, which is what makes it so difficult to teach.  I remember reading something or other on how the nerves fire well before the arm is actually in position, but I can't find it.  This came up instead, and it may or may not be a helpful read: http://www.topvelocity.net/top-10-ways-to-improve-your-control-pitching/#more-8315

Even if you don't need to know several different types of pitching, just understanding some of the science and mechanics can help a lot more in the "why and how" before rote practice, if I understand how your brain works.

When I was extremely little, I had difficulty with learning to tie my shoes because I couldn't understand why that particular pattern would create a bow of laces.  Knowing how and why something works can be fantastic in getting that repetition down properly.

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Re: Throwing Like a Girl
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2015, 05:41:15 PM »
That gif in AndyZ's post is what I was talking about when I talked about more joints giving you more power to your throw.

Offline Deamonbane

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Re: Throwing Like a Girl
« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2015, 06:44:15 PM »
It goes from leaning his body forward into the throw, to pulling his left arm back to augment it to the whiplash motion of the arm to release the ball at maximum speed (Granddad is a baseball nut) It can be rather painful after a few times unless you've gotten your whole body used to it, since the whole whiplash really twists your elbow and wrists.

Offline Iuris

Re: Throwing Like a Girl
« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2015, 07:50:45 PM »
This is going off on a tangent, but I wanted to add in a comment that the "more joints -> more power" is seen in other sports too, such as tennis.

In high school I saw this a lot from new players or people new to the sport on the team.  More experienced tennis players (or at least, those who who understood the physics of tennis better and/or had better body control and/or who had practiced more) use their whole body when playing tennis and when hitting the ball back across the net - they step into the ball, have a large(r) backswing, and rotate the entire upper body and follow up after making contact.  Beginners will come to a dead stop, face the net, and then swing their racket, often without much of a follow through.  It's not "wrong" but the best and most powerful players have a tremendous amount of backswing and torso/shoulder rotation.

If you have any interest in it, Roger Federer arguably has the most ideal / beautiful form in modern tennis.

Forehand
Backhand


Hitting "through" the ball in tennis would be similar to overshooting / throwing "past" a target that was mentioned earlier in this thread.

Offline Caehlim

Re: Throwing Like a Girl
« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2015, 06:14:56 PM »
Make sure that you're following through. Missing that is one of the classic ways that a throw can go badly. This applies with any sort of throw, whether over-arm, under-arm or with both hands (like in basketball).

After you've accelerated the ball with your hand and released it, you want to continue moving your hand in the same direction bringing it to a gradual deceleration. If you stop your arm or jerk it at the moment you release the ball, it tends to go wild and loose a lot of power.

Offline vin26m

Re: Throwing Like a Girl
« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2015, 12:54:56 PM »
OK, so I'm not talking about the very worthy #likeagirl thing, I'm doing this here instead of PROC deliberately.  I'm talking about the, lets be honest here, very real physical phenomenon that some people - and again lets be honest, mainly female - have.  This came up in a post I'm writing and, well, *stands up* My name's Kythia and I throw like a girl.

Ninety odd per cent of my PE lessons at school were spent pretending to be on my period so I could smoke with my friends, and now I have no idea how to throw.  And my soon-to-be-ex boyfriend seems to think laughter is the appropriate response when I asked him to teach me how to do it.  So I'm reaching out to you lovely and unlaughing folk of E.  What the fuck am I doing wrong here?  Is this something that can be explained textually?  If not, does anyone know a good video source or something - everything I've googled comes up with #likeagirl stuff.

On the far from 100% of occasions where the ball goes in the direction I wanted it to it has no force at all and often falls short.  I go to the gym pretty much every day and have, you know, relatively toned arms from the rowing machine and cross-trainer - while I might not be olympic javelin thrower standard I don't think this is a physical strength limitation.  I kind of thought it might be a boob thing, that I was moving my arm different to avoid hitting the girls, but now I don't think it is.

Is anyone able to help?  Am I being ridiculous here?  I haven't slept for a couple of days so its possible I am.

You don't know how to throw. 

It's okay. 

If you've lasted this long without being able to throw, you don't really need to be able to throw.

If you want to be good at tossing remotes, practice tossing remotes.

You can learn how to throw things like balls farther than across the room, but it would probably be harder to do as an adult than as a child.

It's really about technique, which may have to be taught at first, but then has to be practiced.

I used to be able to throw a baseball pretty well, with both accuracy and power.  Now-a-days, that's not true at all.  I just haven't had to throw something like a baseball in forever.

However, when it comes to other things, like ping pong balls into cups across the table or keys into an outstretched hand down a flight of stairs, my aim is still pretty god.

For certain things, like hitting a tennis ball or throwing a baseball, yeah, you want to use more of your body to generate more power.

For ping pong balls, keys, TV remotes and frisbees, it's just technique. 

In college, I knew a guy who was his Ultimate Frisbee team captain, and it seemed like he could hit anything he could see with a frisbee.  I think he told me it was mostly about flicking his wrist, and the challenge of the sport was being able to throw or catch a frisbee on the run, with someone in your way.

I suggest starting off simply.  Get like 20 ping pong balls or crumpled up paper balls and keep tossing them into a garbage can.  When you get better, use a smaller can or throw from a longer distance or throw something heavier like a tennis ball.  Don't expect results right away.  You're probably looking at weeks of practice to be decent.  But it can be fun in a mind-numbing way.  Try to get 1 in.  Then 2 in a row.  Then 3 in a row.  And so on.

As an aside, starting simply works for other things, too.  If you want to dunk a basketball, if you have the vertical leap, start by dunking a tennis ball, then a baseball, then a softball, then a basketball.  Going straight to dunking a basketball would be frustrating and discouraging.