Last week we talked about practicing catching in this post! Some of the same ideas are going to be applicable. You want to consider what ball you are asking the child to throw with. You are also going to want to consider the distance you are starting out at. In addition, underhand and overhand require different processes. We’ll talk about underhand at another time.
When some kids start to throw a ball purposefully it can be more of a fling. Often it can come from the side of the body and it all comes from the arm, maybe the trunk moves around but it is not driving the movement. This blog is going to go over some of the ways we break down throwing to help kids begin to get a more mature overhand throwing pattern that involves stepping into the throw, and trunk rotation.
- Start with standing in front of the child and asking them to throw the ball to you. This lets you see how they typically throw. From there you can start adding in pieces. Use a spot for the child to stand on so that they know where they should be and have a place to return to!
- Next we generally work on bringing the arm up by the ear. This can still result in a fling but they are starting close to the position you want them to start. What we see a lot of times is the throw coming from the elbow so that they are just throwing the ball straight down. Or they start in this position and then immediately move their arm out to the side to fling it. Depending on how they learn best, you can visually cue them, manually help them go through it, and/or verbally cue them. Also slowing it down can really help too.
- Then we work on getting the trunk rotation backwards. The therapist may stand behind the child and hold her hand up for a target and ask them to touch the ball to her hand (without moving their feet). This gets them to start rotating their trunk backwards.
- Next is sort of going back to the previous step. Now that they are rotating backwards you can cue them to bring the ball to their ear and then throw.
- Adding in the step, we have used two spots with one slightly in front and to a diagonal.
- Just a reminder, we are still breaking down this into steps so the whole movement is choppy. We usually pair a word with the movement as well so maybe ‘here’ or ‘back’ to get them to rotate back, ‘ear’ to bring the ball forward, ‘step’ for them to step into the throw, and ‘throw’ to throw the ball. We are still working on a good way to encourage the follow through. Some kids it happens naturally as they speed up and some it doesn’t.
- As they start to get this down, we remove some of the cues. This will depend on the child as to what cues they depend on more. We a lot of times end up leaving the verbal cues in and removing them last.
- We also vary the speed to see what components get left out when we speed up and then we will focus on that area.
- And, if a child still hasn’t mastered it we will break it down each session before asking them to just ‘throw’ the ball. We may not need to break it down as much, or for as long but we will give them a refresher as we put it all together.
How you progress this depends on the individual child and how they are doing. Hopefully this gives a starting point for you though! We’d love to hear other ways you have worked on overhand throwing with kids.