I Can’t Throw: An Update on Last Year’s New Year Resolution February 17, 2015

So if you follow my blog, you may recall that last year my resolution was to learn how to throw. Better late than never, right?

Spoiler alert: I still can’t throw.

Well, I take that back. I think my throwing motion has probably improved, but I really haven’t gotten to test it out much. Let’s just say that I haven’t been lining up to join any dodgeball tournaments lately, and I won’t be joining that spring softball league. Because not only can I not throw, but I have a huge fear of getting hit by balls, and I can’t bat either. So basically I’m the total package.

So the biggest impetus for learning to throw was because it was affecting my tennis serve. I needed to get that right “snapping” motion in order to get the most power. This was a huge hole in my game, and I was tired of opponents asking me how my shoulder surgery went. (This was of course a big rumor, and after a while I just decided to go with it and not correct anyone. I had already told people I was a big spaz and couldn’t throw, but for some reason they didn’t believe me and preferred to think I had a bum shoulder. Go figure.)

And so I took service lessons.

Now without the actual tennis ball, my service motion looked incredible. I practiced and practiced that motion and it looked beautiful. But put a tennis ball in my hand and ask me to now use that same motion while hitting the ball…well, it all fell to shit. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t combine the motion with the ball toss and put everything together. So now I’m back to my old reliable-yet-crappy serve. (I’m wondering what my next move should be: hypnotist, maybe? Obviously my problem is mental, right?)

But rather than focus on this sporting failure – which I’m pretty much used to – I will instead look back at those few shining moments of athletic glory in my younger life. They are, in no particular order:

  • Dart Goddess. Thanks to the questionable “dart unit” in high school gym class, I discovered that although I could not throw any type of ball, I could definitely throw small spears. And I could throw them well. Thanks to this tutelage and the dart machine in my college boyfriend’s house, I was a force to be reckoned with at the college bars.
  • Badminton Bad-Ass. Another one of the few gym units I excelled at, probably because I was hitting something over a net and there were no balls involved. Also, the one time I actually needed a shower after gym class.
  • Archery Annie. Apparently I am better with sharp objects. I once shot a perfect bulls-eye as all my fellow classmates watched. Suck it, basketball players!
  • Star Shooter. I can’t play basketball worth shit, but I can shoot. I once scored six points in a row in a gym class basketball game, which was enough for an opponent to yell at his teammates: “Get on her!” I was actually a threat. Now this was something new. I’ve been a threat at a lot of things in my life. Power shopping. Wheel of Fortune. Scrabble. Jeopardy. Rock Paper Scissors. Most naps in a day. Caddyshack and Sixteen Candles trivia. But a basketball threat? Now that was hilarious.
  • Dancing Diva. Dancing is not technically a sport, but then again darts weren’t either. But since they were both gym class units and involved physical skill, I’m counting them. The only time I got an ‘A’ in gym.
  • Jumping Jehosaphat. (I’m not quite sure what a Jehosaphat is, but anything that Yosemite Sam says is alright by me.) I’m also pretty sure I hold the jump roping and Double Dutch record at Lourdes grade school. And it was pretty cutthroat; beware little girls in jumpers who are bad rope twirlers and try to make you miss.

Thank goodness I learned to play two lifetime sports: golf and tennis. Because unlike a lot of people, my best athletic years are NOW (and even yet to come) – not when I was sixteen years old. And for that I am thankful.


My Embarrassing New Year Resolution (Or, Here’s Why You Don’t Want Me on Your Softball Team) January 3, 2014

At first glance, one of my New Year Resolutions may seem a little odd. After all, I basically want to learn how to do something that most people learn when they are about five years old.


I want to learn how to throw.


Yes, you heard that right. I don’t know how to throw a ball properly.


You know those snotty kids who say things like, “You throw like a girl”? Yeah, I’m that girl.


You may be asking yourself, “How did this happen? Didn’t you have gym class? Didn’t anyone teach you how to throw?”


Well, call it a case of slipping through the cracks. If kids can graduate high school without knowing how to read, then I suppose this gal can be forty all grown up and not know how to throw.


Believe it or not, I actually played baseball from ages 6 through 8, and I could hit the ball well enough that I got on base 90% of the time. Heck, I even made the local paper’s illustrious rec league updates. Unfortunately for me, there was no such thing as “designated hitter” in Pee Wee League since my fielding was another story.


My ineptitude landed me in right field most of the time; if it was a special day maybe I’d be in left field. My catching was questionable at best, but then the real trouble came after I procured the ball. I was too young and naive to actually be worried about the ball coming my way (that would come later in junior high) so if it ever did, my throw would land maybe 10 yards in front of me, if I was lucky. If I tried to throw it harder, my aim would suffer. I’ll never forget the one time when I needed to throw the ball home. My throw instead ended up slamming against the other team’s bullpen fence, where all the kids cheered even louder as their base runner safely made it home.


At no time did my coach take me aside and show me how to properly throw. We weren’t coddled back then, folks. There were no participation ribbons, and we liked it that way! But getting back to my distressing story…


My poor throwing skills followed me throughout my gym class career, where I dreaded the days we’d head outside for softball. By junior high not only could I still not throw, but apparently I could not bat any more, either. (Or do cartwheels. This would later be followed by no more Tilt-a-Whirl rides.) When it came time to head to the outfield, I sprinted toward right field and hid behind anyone close by. If the ball did come my way (my worst nightmare), a boy in my class would sprint up to me, yell at me to give him the ball, and then launch it about five times farther than I was capable.


It was all for the best, I suppose. Just a tad humiliating though.


Come to think of it, most of my high school physical education career was pretty humiliating, probably because very little actual teaching happened. By that time the teacher just expected us to know how to play basketball or do things like say, throw a ball. I did have a few shining moments of glory: The time I hit a bulls-eye in the archery unit while everyone was watching; the four points I scored in a basketball game (hey, don’t laugh – this was a big deal for me); the semi-final finish in the HORSE contest; the dancing unit (of course I rocked that one), and badminton. Eat your hearts out, jocks.


It’s a bit pathetic that I still remember these things, however when you are picked last or almost last for all the team sports, you need all the sports highlight reels you can get.


So why am I so worried about this now? Why do I care about learning how to throw? It’s not like I’m going to be asked to throw out the first pitch at a baseball game anytime soon. And I’m certainly not involving myself in any company softball teams. For God’s sake, I have nightmares about that stuff, people. Plus I’ve found sports that I really enjoy, like tennis and golf and Crossfit-like workouts. (I can even flip over huge tires – so take that!)


Sadly though, my throwing DOES affect my tennis game. You know that nice snapping motion you’re supposed to have when you throw a ball? Well that’s the same motion that is needed for a nice strong serve. I don’t have it. At all. I have an awkward sidearm serve that confuses my opponents. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve asked me if I have a shoulder injury.


“No,” I tell them, “My serve just sucks.”


Luckily my weird motion and good placement throws them off a little, but if I want to take my game to the next level I need to step it up and learn how to serve – and throw – properly.


So in the words of Maria Van Trapp, my tennis coach informed me that we’ll have to “start at the very beginning.”


As a result, I may be the first person ever in history to have a tennis lesson with a football.

So I’ve got that going for me.