throw like a girl

September 12, 2012

Do You Loop "Like a Girl"?

I found the article and illustrations from "You Throw Like a Girl" in the Washington Post yesterday fascinating as much of it applies to table tennis in explaining why some players can loop with power while others cannot. There is a real phenomenon that boys throw much harder than girls, and it's because of technique. Boys often learn to throw properly early on and practice it regularly, while girls often do not. To quote the article:

"A right-handed boy steps first with his left foot. Hips rotate first, then shoulders. He involves most of his body. His arm and hand whip around as he releases the ball. A right-handed girl steps much later in the sequence, often with the right foot. The motion is limited mainly to her forearm. Her shoulders and hips rotate at the same time, if at all."

In table tennis, players who forehand loop with power use almost the same technique as described in the boy throwing above. The ones who have trouble generating power tend to follow parts of the description of the girl above, with limited use of legs and hip rotation, and with a stroke that focuses on upper body and arm. (I've seen a few beginners try to step with the wrong foot, but that's not too common.) Many of those who cannot produce much power do a lot of shoulder rotation, but they tend to start with that rotation instead of it being a natural continuation coming from the legs and the hip rotation. The proper technique is like a rocket ship going to the moon, starting with the largest rocket at the bottom, then it drops off and the next largest one at the bottom fires, all the way to the last one (the arm and wrist). Those without much power essentially start with the second or third rocket, skipping the largest ones at the bottom.

I've had arm and shoulder problems since I was a little kid, and never could throw very hard. Why? Because I hadn't learned to throw properly, and until I was older I always threw "like a girl." (How embarrassing!!!) When I was twelve I badly wanted to play third base (like Brooks Robinson), but couldn't make the throw from third to first and so had to play second. For some reason no baseball coach ever tried to correct how I threw.

PIPS - Table Tennis and Art

PIPS is a rather interesting combination! From their About section: "PIPS is a unique venue that combines Art from emerging contemporary artists and the highly social sport of Table Tennis. This street level storefront space brings monthly art exhibitions as well as thematic table tennis tournaments and open play daily."

There is sort of an underground table tennis racket art movement, which I've blogged about a few times. Here are three interesting table tennis racket art sites - just remember you are getting these rackets for the art, not for high-caliber play!

Or you could just draw something on your paddle (35-second video) or this!

Great Table Tennis Point

Here's a great point (34 seconds) that looks real, not exhibition. The near player is apparently Evgueni Chtchetinine of Belarus (world #79, just try pronouncing his name, I dare you!); I don't know who the other is.

Table Tennis Troll

Here he is! His name is Grot.

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