Underarm Throw

Stages of Development

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 cues
  • 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
Teaching strategies

  • Start without balls and practice the swinging and stepping motion
  • Use markers for children to step on to "squash the bug"
  • Use beanbags to start with - they are easy for small hands to grasp
  • Start by throwing as far as they can
  • Play fun throwing games such as Catch the Magical Creatures and Collecting Rubbish

  • Explore how to throw high, low, far and close
  • Try releasing the ball at different angles - behind or in front of the body. How does that affect the throw?
  • Use different sized balls
  • Introduce accuracy games such as Hoop Elimination and Target Practice

Skill criteria
  1. Stands face on to direction of throw
  2. Stable head and trunk, eyes focused on target area
  3. Ball held in front of body
  4. Steps forward with opposite foot to throwing arm
  5. Well timed release
  6. Follows through with straight arm
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

Girl copying an adult doing an overarm throw
Running, Catching, Overarm Throw, Underarm Throw
Hands up
Catching, Overarm Throw, Underarm Throw
children lining up
Overarm Throw, Underarm Throw