Throwing Like a Girl May Not Exist

There has bee a long held conviction that women are incapable of throwing competently. The phrase “you throw like a girl” is often used as a pejorative. Although common sense would dictate that men’s greater upper body strength would make them better throwers, that is not always the case. Training is critical to mastering a correct throw. Having a basic understanding of parabolic motion and anatomical structures and reverse some of the disparity. Plyometric exercises can increase strength, while simultaneously contracting muscle faster to allow for a quick throw time.

An experiment that was performed on Mythbusters revealed some surprising information. The sample included men and women of  different age groups( adults and children). They first had them throw with their dominant arm and hand. After that, subject threw with their non-dominant hand and arm. If man ability to throw was so natural, they would be able to throw with their non-dominant arm. All subjects demonstrated that it was difficult and it was like their first time throwing. Men seem to be using a more efficient technique of throwing than women. The last part of the experiment has a female softball player throwing. Her technique was closer to that of the male baseball player. The man’s throw was faster, but the accuracy was similar. Sexual dimorphism not only plays a role, but environment. It is rare that fathers teach their daughters to throw like their sons.

carrie simmons

Muscles used when throwing 

  • Trapezius -A muscle that extends from the occipital region to the thoracic vertebrae.
  • Infraspinatus – Stabilizes the shoulder joint  and allows for rotation of the humerus.
  • Levator -Responsible for moving the scapulae.
  • Supraspinatus-One of the four rotator  cuff muscles of the arms and shoulders.
  • Rhomboids- Responsible for scapula retraction ( two muscles both major and minor).

Anatomically, there is no difference in the structure of muscle between men and women. Men do have broader shoulders and more muscle mass. This would provide some advantage, but it does not mean that every man and throw perfectly. There would actually be very little difference between girls and boys at a young age. Before puberty, strength levels between males and females do not vastly differ. Males by age 13 will produce more testosterone allowing for a greater amount of muscular hypertrophy. This does not mean that athletic talent is natural to men only. Throwing functions on certain steps of body motion.

Throwing can be summarized in six phases. The first phase is known as wind-up in which a throw prepares to eject the ball. The actual motion comes in a gradual stride. This will be followed by cocking. The arm will again acceleration as to force the ball from the hand . A deceleration will follow once it takes off and the process will end with follow-through.This process is difficult to see, because it goes fast. Softball and baseball players master this so well that it almost becomes involuntary for them. This would be an example of muscle memory. Motor learning becomes mastered so well that an individual will not have to think intensely to perform a physical task. Women can master this through practice. It also helps to start at a younger age. Girls, just like boys should be taught to throw.

Throwing is not a male only attribute, but has roots in the evolutionary history of primates. It is possible that early humankind developed the ability to throw two million years ago. Homo erectus at this point in time needed that ability to hunt. Ligaments and tendons stored critical energy and power required to hunt wild animals. With the possibility of more food this allowed for a change in biology. An improved diet made the average height increase and a greater extent of brain development. It is possible that the elastic energy generated by the shoulder was an adaptation. The debate continues in regards to throwing being a random mutation or a product of environmental acclimation.

homo erectus

Throwing is not a male only ability. Both men and women developed it.Learn more here :

Throwing as human evolution and physiology demonstrate is not a male only ability. If properly taught women can improve their ability to throw. The assumption is that women will not be successful at anything that is physical. This view still is present even with facts that prove otherwise. A proper technique and intense training can improve throwing ability.

Throwing Like a Girl May Not Exist

2 thoughts on “Throwing Like a Girl May Not Exist

  1. turner says:

    I still remamber our school teacher of physical education saying to us, her pupils,that it had always been very difficult for girls to go through throwing tests.Then we(schoolgirls and schoolboys of about twelve years old)had to throw a tennis ball from a line as far as we could.At the end of the day our girls were not very successful in this discipline showing little skill and let’s face it enthusiasm.However,I have had a feeling that they didn’t just take this test seriesly.They didn’t seem to think that it was something important for them.
    Interestingly,about a year ago or less some of the mentioned above girls approved themselves stronger than the boys including myself when it came to measuring grip strenght by a special device called a grip strenght dynamometer.Thus,the girls who were objectively stronger them some of the boys were not good throwers.


  2. The girls may lack enthusiasm, because they are not encouraged. Boys at a young age are encouraged to be active. The girls may lack confidence in their athletic abilities. That is interesting about the grip strength result. Usually around age 13 boys will begin to surpass girls in physical strength due to puberty. Then again, one should consider what effect arm length has on throwing. Also, which technique would be the best for a parabolic path for a ball to be thrown.


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