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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Throwing Physiology for Geeks

Finding a picture of a girl actually pitching was extremely difficult.

"You throw like a girl."
Which girl has never heard that statement? I've been throwing lots of balls for the dog to chase and have had ample time to wonder about what it means to throw like a girl or a guy.

Probably the rest of you already know all of this having been in baseball or softball or shot put or javelin or any other throwing sport and you're going to laugh your heads off at me. I, however, have spent my life with my nose firmly planted in a book, so I expect the jeering. Bring it on.

But now that I'm working on throwing better (with both arms I might add), I'm wondering: What makes a good throw? Are there fabulous throws that go for both sexes? I assume not, or we'd have more coed baseball teams. I think there are great pitchers in both sexes but not the same way.

This is why I think this: I spent my summers beneath the bleachers reading books while my parents played softball. Occasionally I'd look up and watch them. When I watch girls pitch softball, they do a windup and pitch underhanded like a backwards trebuchet. Guys cock their leg up and hurl the thing using lots of wrist action and their whole body as a slingshot. I really couldn't think of why they'd do it those ways unless it's body mechanics.

So I went to the 'net to read up on it ('cause that's what I do). This is what I got:

"The gap between the sexes is never so wide as in throwing." But one site says it's because of training, not physiology.
"Ineptness is the normal outcome of not allocating neural resources to a task."
And, "...male-female differences in performance on motor tasks may arise, not from innate ability, but from a more efficient learning process in men after puberty."
"Moreover, males from all three age-groups were found to evolve significantly larger delayed (consolidation phase/between session) gains, and these were well retained for 6 weeks. Thus, the male advantage was most significant in the post-training motor consolidation and retention phase; the current results suggest therefore that males, especially after adolescence, may have an advantage, over females, in procedural memory consolidation."

So this means it could be more of a brain physiology thing than I thought, although there are elements of different training (or lack thereof) and other things effecting the process as well (self-consciousness, preference, lack of practice, age, old injuries). You also have to take into consideration limb length and muscle mass.

But, if I had enough training to controvert the distance between male retention and female retention (and if I weren't advancing in years beyond that of a great thrower) I could gain the skills to master the intricate cascade chain of events that is a successful pitch.

Basically, there are differences and similarities in both males and females. Throwing just happens to be one of those areas where we have the most differences. I think sometimes we don't ask enough (or the right) questions about both eventualities. If we're alike or different in something, why and how? What's the process? How is it effected by environment, training, and any number of other stimuli? Can we re-train to negate some of these roadblocks? Is it a good idea? (Try not to gloss over the answers to support a political agenda.)

I personally feel like training my brain to do all sorts of new things just for the heck of it. But I also need to remember that about half of learning to throw better is strength training so I don't injure myself. I should have myself slinging balls right through the chain link fence in no time.

Links:

--95 miles per hour: Physiology of Pitching (Technical) http://sportsnscience.utah.edu/2012/08/20/pitching-physiology-technical/

--FYI: Why Do Girls Throw Like A Girl? The genders are more alike than they are different, with one notable exception. By Colin Lecher http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2012-09/fyi-do-men-and-women-throw-ball-differently 

--Throwing like a girl(‘s brain)

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