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A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

You Throw Like a Girl Too

As I was tossing the well-chewed hunk of rubber ball around for the dog this morning, I rang up a list in my head of things I would tell my ten-year-old self about throwing a softball (mainly because it was about that time that I gave up trying to play ball sports because I rotted at them and hated the negativity surrounding the practice):

1. He yells at you because he doesn't understand the first thing about throwing mechanics and how males are different than females in the way they retain the training they get (a fact that can be compensated for with lots of hard work). He goes off of instinct, not realizing that his natural muscle memory outstrips yours by virtue of being a man. He's not really mad at you. He's frustrated with his own inability to get his information across.

2. You need strength training to train the muscles you need not only to throw the ball far and accurately, but also to avoid injury. First you need to find out what that training involves and how to do it. Injury avoidance is half the process.

3. If you really care about throwing well (which I didn't back then because of all the yelling and taunting) be patient and train your body, not just your arm. It's not all in the wrist like you heard before.

4. It's a cascade of intricate movements that all work together to slingshot the ball forward and recover from the pitch--like a dance. There are several details to remember and train into muscle memory, not just the dense simplification that you shouldn't throw like a girl. 

5. It's mostly in your head until muscle memory takes over. Give yourself a chance to learn the process. It's not always going to involve remembering a gazillion facts and figures. Eventually your body just knows it, like how to drive like a sentient being or how to do butterflies in the pool. (I'm not going to drag out the tired riding a bike thing. Okay I did, but I'm not elaborating on it.)

6. "Lift thine eyes unto the hills." You're going to throw where you're looking. And if you look down, that's where the ball's going. I know because I keep doing it wrong still. But I'm working on it.

7. When you grow up, whatever you're teaching, learn the process and the mechanics of that process so you know enough not to just yell at them for doing what comes naturally to them but is incorrectly or inadequately taught by you. It'll save lots of tears and make you look fabulous instead of lame. (And yes, my ten-year-old self would know these big words because I actually sat on the bus and read the dictionary for fun. It's why I'm such a geek today.)

8. Stick with it. The perks of learning this particular thing are kind of like doing math. The possibilities might not present themselves immediately at your age, but the part where you train your brain to do something difficult and with so many variables is going to help build cognitive bridges that will serve you well in your life.

9. Get someone to watch and coach you who knows all of these things. They can help you connect all the dots and turn you into a well-oiled throwing machine. They can get your hips aligned, make sure you step with the correct foot, drum out of you the instinct to push the ball instead of slinging it, and make sure you follow through in the right way.

10. Don't sweat the stupid stuff. Names stick with you until you kick them in the teeth and tell them to shut up. Either let them slide off you like oil and water, or use them to rocket you forward. (And if you remind me that I just mixed up a bunch of different images, I'm going to aim for your face. Eventually something will land.)

11. You can always read on the car ride home.

12. This is fun.


  1. I like that last bit, especially. All the things you mention are excellent. To be really good, however, includes some genetics. Some bodies just work better than others.

  2. I totally agree, Donna. And looking at it from where I sit, I lost out in the genetics lottery where baseball is concerned...rofl.