how do you throw a ball?
April 29, 2008 9:15 AM   Subscribe

how do you throw a ball?

I never learned how to properly throw a ball. be it a tennis-, foot-, american foot-, base-, or some other kind of ball, I just don't get it. my aim is catastrophic and my inability to put distance between myself and any thrown object, even sticks and stones don't fare any better, has disappointed dogs, grade school teachers, neighborhood kids and potential girlfriends (okay, that may just be a convenient excuse). I'm not exactly a weakling and feel I should be able to do this yet I can't.

so hivemind, help my self-esteem.
I need instructions.
posted by krautland to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are you putting your opposite foot forward when you throw? I mean, your left foot, if you're right handed. This is essential in avoiding "girl-throws".
posted by sunshinesky at 9:18 AM on April 29, 2008


Point your toe where you want the ball to go.

Whatever hand you throw with point the opposite toe where you want to go. Step and throw, baby.
posted by LoriFLA at 9:21 AM on April 29, 2008


Make sure you follow-through with your throwing arm when you release the ball.
posted by fusinski at 9:22 AM on April 29, 2008


The power in your throw comes as much from your legs as anything else.

As sunshinesky says, it needs to involve your opposite foot forward. Assuming you're right handed, a quick description of what I now have as instinct/muscle memory:

Draw your right arm back, elbow bent at 90 degrees with ball in hand, step forward with the left foot. As your left foot is landing, bring your right arm forward, past your ear by rotating the shoulder joint, and pushing forward with your right leg. Let your elbow extend fully as you release the ball. The push with your right leg should have led to all your weight being on your left foot--it's definitely ok to end with your right foot in the air, even.

Switch as necessary if you're lefty.

Watch a baseball outfielder, you'll see this as they throw the ball in. (Infielders might have to make quicker, more compact throws at might not be as good an example.)
posted by stevis23 at 9:25 AM on April 29, 2008


Response by poster: uhm... I don't even really know how to hold a ball, much less stand... I know NOTHING about this.
posted by krautland at 9:29 AM on April 29, 2008


If you're throwing a baseball, hold it so the seams look to you like an upside-down letter U. Put your index finger over the left seam and your middle finger over the right, or as close to that as is comfortable for you. Throw. The seams don't really matter much but they're a good guide for finger positioning. Obviously in a situation where you want to make a fast throw you won't have time to set up like that, but the motion will be familiar.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:33 AM on April 29, 2008


Here's a decent youtube video about throwing a baseball (which should be fundamental enough to get you throwin' other shit). Perhaps you can find better videos if you dig around some.
posted by mullacc at 9:33 AM on April 29, 2008


Here's a reasonable explanation of tossing a baseball.
posted by null terminated at 9:35 AM on April 29, 2008


Wow, I need to preview.
posted by null terminated at 9:35 AM on April 29, 2008


From a previous AskMeFi thread: how to throw a baseball.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:48 AM on April 29, 2008


Get a "Chuckit". You'll impress the dogs.

Otherwise, consider using a casual underhand toss when returning balls to neighborhood kids. You're just that cool.
posted by lothar at 9:54 AM on April 29, 2008


And some YT football instruction over here.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:57 AM on April 29, 2008


Whatever instructions you take away from here, the most crucial part is practice. The first time I threw a tennis ball at a park for my dog to fetch (after years of sports avoidance) was horrifying. It shot out of my hand straight to the ground about 8 feet in front of me. My dog refused to let me slink off in shame though, and eventually I got the hang of it--it's a matter of feeling your arm create velocity in a smooth arc or line and letting go of the ball or whatever at the just right moment. And that takes learning by feel.
posted by tula at 10:01 AM on April 29, 2008


Elbow first.

This piece of advice is pretty basic but I have seen the odd person neglect it and try to throw a baseball or football like you would in shotput. That is without a whip like motion where your arm is bent and your elbow passes your body plane first and then your arm straightens before release.
posted by skinnydipp at 10:02 AM on April 29, 2008


If you just picked up a ball and tried to propel it somewhere, you probably looked as though you were pushing it: ball close to your ear, and then you shove forward and up with your arm. That's instinct, and wrong. To throw with distance and predictable accuracy you want more of a whipping action. The "previously on askme" post asparagurl mentions calls this a trebuchet, which makes sense. Read the comments above, esp. about grip and stance, and then try this:

Stop yourself in mid-throw--as the ball passes your head--and look at your throwing arm. There are three angles that are important. [As a visual aid, freeze the video above at 0:33].

1. Keep your elbow high: until release, your elbow should be at shoulder height. (Throwing arm elbow elevated at or above 90 degrees relative to body)

2. Lead with the elbow: When you look to the side, your elbow should be further forward than the hand with the ball.

3. Forearm extension out to the side: it should be or beyond 90 degrees from upper arm: that is, your hand is no closer to your head than your elbow.

If you freeze in mid-throw every few tries, and check these angles, you'll create a stable platform and a steady track for launching the ball. As you practice, you'll feel your whole body getting into the throw; like a golf swing. It's the whipping action that brings your whole body into the throw.
posted by Phred182 at 10:09 AM on April 29, 2008


It's definitely more a matter of co-ordination of weight shift than muscle power. I was a skinny kid who surprised myself and the jocks by out-throwing them. I've never analyzed it, but here's my attempt: If you are right handed, you turn to the right (sideways), then starting with both hands at your belt buckle, lift your left foot off the ground and fall sideways (off balance)--left shoulder falling towards the target. As you do this, pull your right arm back around in a smooth curve, and throw your left arm in the opposite direction (towards the target). You want everything except the hand holding the ball to be falling hard towards the target. Just before you fall completely off balance, you plant your left foot (which has been in the air moving forward all this time), to stop your body momentum. Now your right arm is snapped forward past your head, pulled and accelerated like a whip by all that momentum you had put into your body. And when your arm is fully extended towards the target and stops, there will be another shift in momentum from your arm to your wrist and hand, snapping the ball out. The secret is the sideways posture, the falling off balance, and the smooth transfer of momentum from heavy (whole body) to lighter (arm) to lightest (wrist and hand) that increases the acceleration at each stage. It's just like a tapered bull whip (the tip of which can break the sound barrier). The harder you fall, the harder you stop yourself--and all that energy will transfer down your arm in stages to the final snap of your wrist. The pitcher's mound helps because it allows the body to fall farther and harder before the final foot plant, thus increasing the momentum transferred to the ball.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:18 AM on April 29, 2008


Note: You must warm up your arm before throwing a ball hard, or the resulting pain can last for weeks.
Whirl your throwing arm around in the air and throw an imaginary ball for five minutes or so before picking up a real ball.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:30 AM on April 29, 2008


Don't be hard on yourself, there is something really mysterious happening here.

Even the best left-handed throwers seem to use a very distinct motion from good right-handed ones, and it always looks a little awkward and uneconomical. I'm talking Steve Young, Kenny Stabler, Randy Johnson, Jim Zorn, Sandy Koufax (though I would like to review some film of him), Ron Guidry, Mark Brunell, and so on. Not to put too fine a point on it, they all 'threw like girls' and like I do with my left hand.

I'm still waiting to see one left-hander use the standard right-handed motion; too bad I'll probably never get to see one of those exceedingly rare Siamese twins whose distribution of organs is a true mirror image of the usual throw a ball, it might be highly illuminating.

Ive also only met one woman or girl who threw with a right-handed motion, no matter which hand she used.

I guess I'm saying it looks like there is some built in program that facilitates human males throwing with their right hands, and that women or left-handed males have to work much harder to learn to throw well.

It seems likely some right-handed males would also lack this program (assuming it exists).

So if it doesn't come natural to you, it may not be worth the very considerable effort it might take-- if you can learn it at all as an adult.
posted by jamjam at 10:54 AM on April 29, 2008


I suggest having a London meetup and having friendly MeFites show you how it is done, especially since the more alcohol is consumed the worse their throwing ability will become. You can do a degradation analysis of their motion and the effectiveness of their throwing.
posted by sciurus at 10:55 AM on April 29, 2008


Dr. Mike Marshall, a former professional pitcher, says the traditional method and motion for throwing a baseball is damaging. He's spent 40 years documenting his research into an improved motion. If you're starting from scratch, as an adult, to learn to throw, it might make sense to read his books, first.
posted by paulsc at 11:09 AM on April 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


For casual throwing (playing fetch with a dog or returning a stray ball to neighborhood kids, etc.) you may want to focus more on distance and accuracy than power or speed. As a late learner myself, the key discovery for me was arc. I used to try to throw in a straight line as hard as I could muster, thinking that would be impressive, when in fact it just made the throw woefully inaccurate and usually in the dirt, and also made it difficult for the other person to catch. By throwing in a gentle upwards arc, you can get much more distance (the ball has to travel up before it travels down) and give the catcher more time to react and get under it if need be, making both of you look good.

To get arc you can use either an overhand or underhand throw (and frankly underhand is easier for this purpose, nothing wrong with that!), the key is to draw an imaginary line following the ball's movement as it travels from the beginning of your throw to the moment you release it. To get arc, the point where you release the ball should be higher than where it was when you started the throw. If the point of release is level with or lower than where it started, then the ball will most likely end up in the dirt before it gets to your target, simply due to the effects of gravity. Try it with short distances at first just to get a feel for it, then slowly increase the distance as your accuracy improves. Good luck!
posted by platinum at 11:57 AM on April 29, 2008


"T"-"L"-Step, and throw.*

Make a "T" with your arms, with the ball-holding hand behind your head, and the other side of the "T" pointing toward your intended target. Bring the ball-holding hand up so that your arm makes an "L." Step toward your target with the foot opposite of your ball-holding hand, and throw it.

*(Everything I need to know I learned from my son, who's in kindergarten)
posted by Kibbutz at 12:53 PM on April 29, 2008


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