Throwing like a girl

The most fun I have had (so far) researching a magazine article was 11 years ago, for an Atlantic piece called "Throwing Like a Girl."

It was fun because, as the piece explains: I got to interview the actor John Goodman about how he learned to throw left-handed (to play Babe Ruth in the movie The Babe). I got to watch super slo-mo tapes of Major League pitchers with the sports-science whiz Vic Braden, at whose tennis camp I had previously had my own sporting form slo-mo analyzed (to great dismay). And I got to ask the press secretary to Hillary Clinton, then America's First Lady, where Mrs. Clinton had developed her throwing arm -- and why, ahem, she had unfortunately thrown out an Opening Day pitch at Wrigley Field "like a girl."

In the interests of science I also got to do something that I now recommend to every American male: play catch with your spouse, girlfriend, mother, or other female acquaintance who does not think of herself as having a good arm, using your "off" hand to throw. I explain in the article why this is a good thing to do.

This article has now been excavated from the Atlantic's for-pay archives and is available on a non-firewalled "Pursuits" page here. (Still -- subscribe! Right after you have that left-handed-if-you're-a-righty game of catch.)

Bonus: what are the three crucial elements of throwing "like a girl" -- or "like a poor male athlete," in the words of the female coach of a college softball team whom I quote in the story?

1) Body directed straight-on toward the target, rather than turned 90 degrees away;

2) Elbow lower than shoulder as your arm comes forward;

3) Wrist inside elbow (closer to your head) as you release the ball and/or palm facing up, giving a pushing rather than hurling motion. Now you know.