By: The Game On! Sports Camps 4 Girls Staff
An article in the Chicago Tribune recently caught our attention. “Throwing like a girl comes naturally for women” highlights the large gap between girls and boys in regards to their throwing ability. The cited research is interesting: the gap between overhand throwing ability in girls and boys begins at age 4. Then, “at age 5, the average U.S. boy throws balls 7mph faster than the average U.S. girl.” Even more discouraging, the article states “nearly every boy by age 15 throws better than the best girl.”
The article, written by freelance writer Tamar Haspel, also draws on the writer’s own personal experience. As she admits, she always threw “like a girl,” noting her inability to throw from home plate to first. Yet after taking the time to take one lesson focusing on the basic overhand throwing motion, she saw marked improvement: “But I did get the ball to first base, and even a little beyond: That was a 10 percent improvement in just 30 minutes.” Now she is even motivated to practice.
This article demonstrates the extreme importance of quality instruction in the fundamentals of sport. We are so keenly aware these days, through research and the media, as to the life-changing benefits sports and physical activity offer. But as this article advocates, girls in particular, need to have the opportunity to learn the RIGHT way. If we expect girls to develop the confidence and appreciation necessary to cherish a lifetime filled with sports and fitness (active lifestyle), we have to give them the chance to learn.
Just imagine the difference in Ms. Haspel’s attitude had she had this lesson 20 years ago!
Young girls do continue to face a major hurdle though; the opportunities for quality developmental instruction in sports are severely lacking.
Consider a recent call we received: A Game On! family called us to ask if we knew about any school-year developmental volleyball programs for 3rd grade girls. We searched high and low, finally coming up with one within a reasonable proximity to the family’s neighborhood. Based on the on-line information alone, it was difficult to tell whether this program could effectively work with the younger girls since their core seemed to focus on the older travel teams. Our advice to the parent was to either observe one of the classes or to request that her daughter try out a class in order to see whether the program fit their needs.
Game On! Director and veteran softball coach Sara Hokin can relate to Ms. Haspel’s article. “For physiological reasons it is more natural for a boy to throw a ball using the proper form than it is for girls. In turn, boys end up throwing harder and more accurately than most girls. So without the proper instruction, females struggle.”
Hokin continued, “As mentioned in the article, the power that females lack in an overhand throw comes from the separate turning of the hips and shoulders. Females tend to rotate them together as one. So, we as girls’ coaches need to break down the throwing mechanics from the very beginning. For beginners, it works. For the more experienced who ‘throw like a girl,’ most resist the technical change. Once they relearn and master however, they thrive.”
Experience and research agree that girls are behind on the basics. Gender comparisons aside, it’s time to change that fact. Why should a young woman have to feel insecure about her ability to throw a wandering ball back over the fence? Why shouldn’t young girls have the benefit of throwing with correct form so they can enjoy a simple game of catch or running bases or more? Why shouldn’t girls have the chance to learn the right way?
They should. And you know what? Every time a young girl masters that overhand throw, guaranteed her smile lights up the field.