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How to Effectively Teach an Overhand Throw to Elementary Students

Updated on April 8, 2012

The Lesson

This article will explain in great detail how to teach an overhand throw to an elementary aged student. Following these exact directions will have your students throwing overhand in no time.

Before I begin with the steps below, the first thing you should do is explain the whole process below, but model it for them so they can actually see how it looks.

Step 1: The first thing to do is to determine which hand is their dominant hand, the hand of which they will be throwing the ball. This may seem like common sense, but you would be surprised how many 5 and 6 year old kids do not know which hand is their dominant. Not to worry, simply ask them which hand is their "pencil hand". Be careful not to say, "your writing hand" because they may confuse this with left from right and think they should use they're right hand, which in most cases they don't even know their right from their left.

Step 2: Now that you have determined which hand they will be throwing with, the next step is to have them stand up, in a circle, and turn "sideways" with their other hand pointing at their target, which is a target in the middle of your circle. This will make them have their "pencil hand" on the correct side of their body - the outside. At this point walk around the circle and make sure their pencil hand is in the air and their body is turned sideways.

Step 3: The next step is the toughest for young children to grasp. The step towards their target. Most of the time students will step with the wrong foot towards the target. With them standing in that circle, tell them to raise their pencil hand and tap the leg with the other hand so that they know that's the leg/foot they are going to step with. This will be called, "the opposite foot".

Step 4: As the students are standing sideways with their pencil hands in the air, walk around the circle, grab each kids pencil hand and tell them to step towards their target. If they begin to step with the wrong foot, tug at their pencil hand and say, "no, other foot" until they step with their correct foot. Don't worry too much about the foot actually turning and pointing at the target, most of the time it will with no thought process at all.

Step 5: The next step is to explain how the hand must go above the shoulder when they are throwing. This will get them to throw overhand, not sidearm or underhand.

Step 6: The next step is to have them practice their throwing without a ball. Still standing in your circle have them make some practice throws. They practice on their own as you walk around and check for correct form. Be sure to always keep saying, as they are practicing, the cues..."pencil hand, opposite foot, step, and towards the target".

Step 7: Once it looks like they have mastered the basics, have them stand on a red X, that you have previously placed on the floor for every student you have. The X's should be about 15 feet from the wall. On the wall place another X, I usually make them green - this is their target. The best balls I have come across for them to throw are those "splash-balls". The balls that once they get wet can be thrown at people, but they don't hurt at all if you get hit by one - know what I'm talking about? Of course don't get the balls wet, use them dry - they work great!

Step 8: All the students get their own ball and start throwing at the targets on the wall. The goal is for them to hit their green X three times before time runs out - one minute - of course I'm the time keeper so I wait til almost everyone has hit it three times so they can feel confident and good about themselves. During this whole time you still need to walk around and give feedback. All positive and corrective when necessary - never negative.

Once they have mastered the concept of opposite foot and pencil hand, every skill that involves them throwing with their dominant hand and stepping with their opposite foot is much more easier to teach. I have taught elementary Physical Education for over 10 years and have many fun and exciting lessons. Please let me know if you would like more Hubs published like this or games & activities you can play to practice the skill in a fun way. Good Luck!


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      james jackson 

      4 years ago

      you left out hand must be on top of ball

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Thanks. Your post is great. Would you have any for 2 handed throw?


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