Is a terrible thing to say. It’s not even accurate, but the picture it evokes is as specific as the verbiage is succinct. What’s a less douchey way to describe an unpracticed overhand throw? Offhand? Frozen elbow? Hips forward or pre-wound? English, catch up with us!!!

  • 1
    Can you give a sentence where you would use the word or phrase you are looking for?
    – fev
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 18:04
  • Just to be clear, that throw is not an unmanly overhand throw, but an unfocused underhand throw that is judged as poor. Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 18:31
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    It may conjure up a highly specific image to you, but to me "throws like a girl" just means "throws weakly", and most references seem to support that.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 19:06
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    So the thrower is a boy, right? After all, nobody would ever complain that a girl throws like a girl, would they?
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 0:37
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    Things have certainly changed in the past decades, but there was a time when "throws like a girl" was a highly accurate description of how most girls, and some boys threw.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 15:11

9 Answers 9


While I don't believe this is a common expression, you could possibly replace "girl" with "child" to give the same impression:

"Throws like a child"

This keeps the same (slightly rude) tone, but changes the phrase to imply inexperience rather than relying on gender stereotypes.

  • Or "can't throw for toffee"? (see dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/for-toffee). Possibly too British if it's a baseball context, but it relates considerable incompetence and a childish quality, possibly in a mildly charming, preppy or dated way.
    – phhu
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 14:27
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    "Can't throw for <various words can be included here>" is certainly another phrase that could work depending on the context. Or similarly: "Can't throw to save (his/her) life"
    – DBS
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 14:37
  • @phhu Sounds very British, I'd have no idea what it means. Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 22:26
  • No worries, we can't communicate for toffee.
    – phhu
    Commented Jan 23, 2023 at 12:44

There is no one set phrase that would substitute for "like a girl." You could just call it a weak throw or you could express the body motion involved.

The main issue with throwing "like a girl" is that the thrower doesn't sufficiently involve the body in the throw. Rather than whipping the arm and hand or rotating the body, the thrower stays facing forward and primarily engages the forearm and hand. That leads to a weak throw, since the power for the throw is only coming from the arm.

For this answer, I consulted multiple descriptions of what throwing "like a girl" means. First, Tamar Haspel at the Washington Post (9/10/2012) breaks down the motion:

To understand why a girl “throws like a girl,” it’s necessary to define just what throwing like a girl is. According to Thomas, a girl throwing overhand looks more like she’s throwing a dart than a ball. It’s a slow, weak, forearm motion, with a short step on the same side as the throwing hand. A boy’s throw, by contrast, involves the entire body. Thomas describes a skillful overhand throw as an uncoiling in three phases: step (with the foot opposite the throwing hand), rotate (with hips first, then shoulders) and whip (with the arm and hand).

Throwing like a dart is one approximation. In a dart throw, the elbow stays forward with little rotation in the body. In darts, the throw doesn't need that much power, so the form makes sense (Wikimedia Commons): enter image description here

In a baseball throw "like a girl," the elbow doesn't come back far enough to generate a snap and the body doesn't rotate so much either, leading to a loss of power. For instance, most people throwing with their off hand or throwing untrained will throw like this (Mythbusters, via YouTube): enter image description here enter image description here

A good, full baseball throw involves more of the body, going from a coiled elbow behind the body (body in profile) to a full rotation (arm begins to snaps forward, body turns forward, the momentum propels the ball) (Mythbusters, via YouTube):

enter image description here

That additional rotation and whipping action has been called a kinetic chain (James Fallows, The Atlantic, August 1996):

Braden says that an effective throw involves connecting a series of links in a "kinetic chain." The kinetic chain, which is Braden's tool for analyzing most sporting activity, operates on a principle like that of crack-the-whip. Momentum builds up in one part of the body. When that part is suddenly stopped, as the end of the "whip" is stopped in crack-the-whip, the momentum is transferred to and concentrated in the next link in the chain.

So if weak throw wasn't sufficiently descriptive, you could use some of the language provided here:

The tee ball prospect is very fast, but they throw the ball like a dart

The tee ball prospect is very fast, but they don't throw with their whole body

The tee ball prospect is very fast, but they have a weak throw

  • 1
    Your comment on non-dominant hand is intriguing. So perhaps (inspired by "two left feet"), something like "throws like having two left hands". Which fails on various counts, though. :-'(
    – Pablo H
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 13:24
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    Respectfully :) I think "throw the ball like a dart" is kinda off the boil somewhat. If you'll excuse the expression, "your son throws like a girl" there is no way to track this to your "dart". Also, a dart is considered fast and accurate, if I threw something and someone said "he threw that like a dart" my first thought would be I threw well. Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 14:59
  • case in point, you use a picture of Matthew Edgar (pro dart player) to demonstrate how a dart is thrown, but I bet no one would dare claim he "throws like a girl: :) Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 15:03
  • No wonder a media outlet like the WP hosts a writer which shows a strong affinity with Stokholm syndrome ... from the article she wrote it seems like boys were born with the innate capability of throwing balls. Aditionally, the reference to Aborigin does not say if the aboriginal boys throw like girls or like boys. Accurate at the minimum.
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 15:09
  • 2
    I like how you used photos with male-looking people for the "bad" throws and a female-looking person for the "correct throw" in contrast to "throwing like a girl" Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 18:39

I'd argue that noob or newb would fit the gender-neutral bill.

You throw like a noob!


informal: a person who has recently started a particular activity


Admittedly, this word has origins in the computer world, particularly in gaming but I think its usage has made it into the average person's lexicon.

Alternatively, a greenhorn would work as well but younger people might look at you funny.

Anecdotally, I've heard older females use that gendered phrase to describe something and it amazes me that they didn't realize how self-deprecating it made them look.


An alternative would be

...does not put his / her back into it

This evokes (at least for me) a similar mental picture as the original, and follows @TaliesinMerlin's excellent description of the motions involved.


More polite methods of criticizing a pitched ball...

  • You throw like an amateur.
  • Your throw is unpracticed.
  • Your throw needs perfecting.
  • Your throw could use work.
  • Your throw leaves a bit to be desired.
  • I've seen better.
  • Let's work on that throw.
  • Next!
  • Try to put it over the plate.
  • Well... it's not for the big leagues.
  • Your throw's OK.

And a million other options.

You're asking for a polite way to replace a derogatory remark. The whole point of a derogatory remark is to be insulting. From a male perspective, "you throw like a girl" is so mild it's almost humorous (I could imagine a pro 100mph pitcher saying that to a 98mph colleague). From a female perspective, I could easily imagine the wish that it would forever go away.

Did I answer your question? Because I'm not sure if you're seriously looking for a polite way to express the idea or if you're just being a political activist fighting against a sexist insult first used back in the 1880s (if not earlier).

And before you get too upset about that last statement, please remember that you asked for a "less douchey way" of saying it — a reference that's just as sexist and insulting. Be careful what you ask for... or at least how you ask for it. A good person wouldn't resort to insults, sexist or not.


Tee ball is a sport for young children, so you’ll probably sound douchey no matter how you phrase your criticism. I would tend to soften it by saying “they aren’t the best at throwing.”

If you were criticizing a more mature athlete, you could try these:

“… but they can’t throw.” is a succinct, colloquial way to say they throw poorly.

“… can’t throw worth a damn/darn.” might work, depending on your audience.

If you must: “Throws like my grandma” might be a way to dial back the sexism slightly, and it implies that you’re not disparaging all grandmas—yours just happens to throw poorly.

  • 1
    Thank you so much for your answer. I replied with an example sentence as a comment without fully considering the ramifications. As for your criticisms, they are spot on, if completely beside the scope of the request. Also, apologies to your grandmother as she will now be the paragon of ineffectual throws.
    – user121330
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 7:14
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    -1. If you are trying to be politically correct, "throwing like a grandma" just adds an ageist sprinkle to the sexist trope waffle. Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 11:11
  • 2
    Try exchanging "throws like my grandma" with "throws like my brother", and consider whether that evokes the same image or understanding. The latter is likely to be met with a "what does that mean"/"does he throw badly" response, and the former would not, because the former carries an implication that grandmas throw badly. (Aging undeniably negatively affects physical ability, but using old people as the butt of a joke probably still isn't all that politically correct either.)
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 11:25
  • Isn't the whole point of tee ball that you don't throw the ball? Instead of being pitched, the ball just sits on a tee, and you hit it. I guess there's some throwing afterwards for passing the ball back into the infield, but there's no pitcher/bowler like there is in baseball, softball, cricket, etc. Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 16:15
  • @DarrelHoffman: That's correct, the batter hits the ball off a tee, but is otherwise like baseball/softball. The fielders typically need to throw the ball to the first baseman (base-person?), or whatever other base. And/or back to the umpire to tee it up for the next batter after making an out. Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 6:51

If you're trying to be helpful and want to imply that you know enough about throwing mechanics to identify what someone could improve, phrasing like "throws without elbow drive" is both accurate and sounds technical like you know what you're talking about. And is purely technical, not judgemental. But anyone else who saw the throw, or knows anything about throwing, should be able to figure out what you're talking about.

I haven't actually tried this myself; usually when I'm talking about throwing mechanics it's part of teaching someone to throw a (frisbee) disc forehand or talking about their specific throw, so I don't need a short summary to describe what was bad. I'd rather tell them what would be good / better.

(The mechanics of driving the elbow forward for throwing a disc are very similar to throwing a ball overhead, or even more to throwing a baseball side-arm, or skipping a rock. Throwing a hammer (throwing a disc overhead with a forehand grip) is a lot like throwing a baseball overhead or serving in tennis. Interestingly, one woman I know with very good mechanics on her hammers had a background in water polo, where you definitely need to get your arm high and snap.)


I am puzzled by your

It’s not even accurate

I am not sure you can discern between girl's and boy's throw, I am quite sure a Danish boy who never played baseball or the like will have the same inexperienced throw you are assuming "girls" have.

I think you are looking for a funny informal usage. I suggest you to use "throws like a child" and be happy with that, or go directly in the offensive direction, like "did you learn on Wikipedia how to throw so badly?"

  • I am quite sure a Danish boy who never played baseball or the like will have the same inexperienced throw you are assuming "girls" have. Why?
    – shmosel
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 8:47
  • @shmosel because we reply what we see (please check en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… about doubts we have specific cells to do so) and therefore a Danish boy, not exposed to baseball and similar movements, he will not know how to proper throw a ball... on the other hand, in the US culture it is pervasive for boys to be shown and to imitate the father behavior ... i.e. they have more impressions of baseball...
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 8:58
  • Not all girls throw like girls, either. Watch some experienced young women play softball and you will see.
    – Wastrel
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 14:21
  • @Wastrel please comment this to OP, not to me.
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 14:59
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    Denmark is one of the strongest Handball nations worldwide. And even if you're not going for accolades, kids learn all kinds of sports in school, and quite a lot engage in amateur sports, quite aside from parents playing "catch" with their kids completely unrelated to Baseball.
    – DevSolar
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 16:58

The National Library of Medicine has published a paper: Gender Differences in Throwing Revisited: Sensorimotor Coordination in a Virtual Ball Aiming Task

Numerous studies have demonstrated that boys throw balls faster, farther and more accurately than girls. This may be largely due to well-known anatomical and muscle-physiological differences that play a central role in overarm throwing.

and concludes

This large cross-sectional study on spatiotemporal coordination in throwing revealed that the widely reported male advantage in throwing may need some qualifications: previous behavioral testing invariably tested overarm throwing where anatomical and muscle physiological differences are the predominant contributors.

The report cites many studies in which boys consistently outperform girls (and men, women) in speed, distance, and accuracy. It seems that the difference is evolutionary.

The conclusion is that, in normal circumstances,"girls throw like girls" and "boys throw like boys".

Only in circumstances in which males' and females' throwing actions are restricted to forearm action (as per this study) do the differences disappear.

It may be fine to object to "throw like a girl", but, scientifically "throwing like a girl and "throwing like a boy" are, in fact, valid categories.

  • 3
    "Throws like a girl" refers to a specific throwing technique where virtually all the power comes from the elbow (as opposed to the far-more-effective full-body throw).
    – Mark
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 22:05
  • 1
    Also, just btw you would say Frontiers in Human Neuroscience published a paper, not NLM. Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 0:18
  • +1. As the OP points out, "the picture it evokes" is "specific". The phrase refers to a sort of throwing; it is not a meaningless sexist insult. So for a pertinent replacement phrase we need to determine what is characteristic about such a throwing action.
    – Rosie F
    Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 6:31

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