Let me be clear about something.

I find the phrase "Throwing Like a Girl" just as offensive as you do.  

In fact, I have two daughters, both of whom I taught and who throw well as a result.

The only reason I titled this piece the way I did is because, in this search engine driven age, that's the term that many people are searching for, I assume because they don't what what else to call it.

For the record, I prefer and use the term Pushing the Ball.

The more basic reason why I don't like the term because it implies that there's nothing that you can do about the problem when, in fact, it is fairly easy to fix.

If you understand the deeper reasons that I believe explain why it happens more often in girls than in boys.

Throwing Like a Girl

Recognizing that it's offensive and ignorant to say that someone "throws like a girl," let's look at the particular movement pattern and what can be done to improve it.

Root Causes

A number of years ago, a neighbor was given the opportunity to throw out a ceremonial first pitch down at Busch Stadium. For some reason -- I think his family had a problem with baseball -- he never learned how to throw. One day, he saw my older son and me out throwing in the side yard. He asked me if I would teach him to throw so that he wouldn't make a (complete) fool of himself. I had him play catch with me so that I could figure out what he was doing wrong.

When my neighbor threw, he exhibited the same basic problems that you can see in this new VW commercial.


The first and most obvious problem he had was that he started out facing me rather than sideways to me. That then caused subsequent problems.

His body knew that getting some forward momentum would help him get something into his throw. Because he started out facing me, he was able to choose which foot he stepped forward with. For some reason, he chose to step forward with his right foot which, because he was right-handed, was the same side as his throwing arm.

Throwing with the Arm and not the Body

Because he was right-handed and stepped toward the target with his right foot, he wasn't able to create any Separation between his hips and his shoulders. In fact, instead of his hips leading his shoulders, his shoulders rotated ahead of his hips. As a result, he wasn't able to get his body into the throw and was forced to throw pretty much entirely with his arm.

The Fix

The fix to his problem was to get him to start in the Sideways Position rather than facing the target. By doing that, he was more likely to step forward with his glove-side foot, which helped to create some Separation between his hips and his shoulders and improved the odds that he would throw the ball with his entire body and not just his arm.

Cues That Don't Work

Over the years I have heard of, come up with, and tried out a number of cues that are supposed to help kids fix the problem of throwing like a girl. However, not all of them work well, if at all.

Point the Glove at the Target

The goal of this cue to get the thrower to get sideways to the target. However, the problem with this cue is that it's very easy to point the glove at the target while facing the target. As a result, I now tell kids to point their shoulders, not their glove, at the target.

Point Your Shoulder at the Target

In the VW Passat commercial that I discuss above, at one point you can hear the dad tell his son, "That was good. You had your shoulder pointed."

The key isn't to point one of your shoulders at the target or to do so after the throw. Instead, the goal is to point both of your shoulders -- or really a line that runs through both of your shoulders -- at the target before you throw. If you are just pointing your (throwing) shoulder at the target, it's still possible to not get sideways target and to face the target instead.

What the Research Says

I recently came across a piece entitled Why Apes Can't Pitch that makes the case that problems with throwing are more cultural and technique-based than they are due to differences in upper body strength of men and women.


1. Last night, I gave a throwing/pitching and hitting clinic that was attended by mostly boys but also by three girls. I used my standard approach to teach the girls how to throw, which involves teaching kids to throw like baseball pitchers pitch. This worked quite well, and quite quickly, for both the girls and the boys. I was happy at the time, but didn't think too much about it.

However, as I think about it today, I have to wonder if part of the reason why most girls don't throw as well as most boys has to do with the fact that boys pitch overhand while girls pitch underhand. While the additional practice throwing overhand that the boys get likely has something to do with it, I think the bigger factor is that baseball pitching -- when pitching both from the set/stretch and the wind-up -- implicitly teaches boys good footwork.

That baseball pitching footwork directly transfers over to throwing.

In contrast, while underhand pitching does teach girls to step with the proper foot, they are taught to point their pitching arm side foot at the target instead of getting their pitching arm side foot sideways to the target.