Underarm Throw

girl throwing

A common throw used over short distances in team games. It helps children develop the skills to make perceptual judgements on distance, space and release strength. It can later develop into a softball pitch or underarm serve in volleyball or badminton. It is a similar skill to the underhand roll, except with the roll the child needs to bend their knees further and release closer to the ground. 

Teaching tips

The underarm throwing action comes naturally to most children, however to improve technique, accuracy and power, use the KIDDO teaching vocabulary;

  • Face your target
  • Step, swing and throw
    • Step - step forward with your opposite foot to throwing arm
    • Swing - straight arm, starts behind and body and swings forward (like a swing)
    • Throw - release the ball 
    • Point - throwing arm follows through in a straight line
Developing Underarm Throw through play

Encourage exploratory play initially. Use balls/objects of different shapes, sizes and weight to develop an understanding of power. Beanbags or soft toys are easy for small hands to grasp. When your child is ready to work on technique;

  • Start without balls and practice the swinging and stepping motion
  • Use markers, stickers, or chalk on the floor for children to step on to "squash the bug"
  • Start by throwing as far as they can
  • Play fun throwing games that are easy to have success, such as Catch the Magical Creatures and Hallway Bowling

Challenge your child's underarm throwing skills by using smaller, or heavier objects. Make targets smaller or further away to continue to develop accuracy. Encourage active play in the following ways;

  • Use nets or strings tied between trees to explore underarm throwing over a height
  • Introduce accuracy games such as Bucketball and Witch's Cauldron
  • Combine underarm throw with catching in Shrink and Grow
  • Encourage them to use underarm throwing in everyday tasks - for example, throw washing into a basket.
Common errors
  • Stepping forward with the same foot as the throwing arm
  • Not stepping at all
  • No follow-through
  • Releasing the ball too soon or too late

More underarm throw activities

Catching, Overarm Throw, Underarm Throw
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Underarm Throw
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Underarm Throw