We recently talked about how to work on and practice overhand throwing with kids, and how to work on catching. Now we are going to talk about underhand throwing. A lot of the same principles that we talked about in the above two posts work in terms of cueing and how to progress or breakdown the teaching so I won’t necessarily go over all those. How you cue and how you change the cueing will also depend on the child you are working with. Just remember, break it into easier steps and give more support to begin with, and lots of repetitions. As they begin to master, decrease some aspect of the cueing and continue to progress until they barely need cueing at all and are fairly consistent! Also, doing the task slower is easier and faster is harder, closer is easier and further is harder. Read the other two posts to get some more details!
So, I don’t have a tried and true way for teaching underhand throwing. I am going to share some of the techniques that have worked for us. And, we’d love to hear about techniques that have worked for you guys!
Start with showing the child an underhand throw and see how they do. Often times you are going to see the side arm fling that you have no idea where it is going to end up! It’s a good way to practice your reflexes! I would also show them a one handed roll of a ball and see if they can do that. This is a similar motion and can also be challenging for the child. Sometimes they actually end up using an underhand throw when the are trying to roll the ball!
Here are some techniques that have worked for us to teach the motion (these are in no order, pick and choose to see what works):
- Put the target on the ground, such as bowling pins, bean bag toss, ring toss, etc
- Stand near a corner of a room so that you can cue them to bring their hand with the ball in it back to tap the wall and then toss it. By standing in a corner you can also have the other wall next to their ball arm so it limits the chance of a fling to the side and keeps a more sagittal plane motion
- Use a heavier object like a weighted ball and have them toss it to a spot on the ground
- Ask them to toss a ball or a bean bag up to try to hit the ceiling
- Do the activity at the same time as them (make the target close to begin with)
- Stand right in front of them (less than 5 feet away) to have them toss it to you
- You can always try loosely wrapping Thera-band around their throwing arm and body (this would make most of the movement come from the elbow but can help with keeping the supination in the hand)
- Rolling a ball down a ramp or wedge
- Do lots of rolling activities first (bowling is great) to really help with the supinated hand position (keep the target closer to start with)
We would love to hear other techniques you have tried! And, check out our post on maintaining the right hand position for underhand throwing!