Underarm Throwing Technique

Grandfather and grandchildren playing baseball in garden

Learning how to correctly throw the ball underhand can help softball and baseball athletes who are on defense more safely deliver the ball to teammates at a short distance. The underarm throw can also be used by parents and child caretakers wanting to gently toss the ball to a child. Although the arm is heavily involved, your entire body contributes to a correctly performed underarm throw.

Underarm Technique

To throw a ball using the underarm technique, begin by facing your target while holding the ball in your dominant hand. Shift your body weight to center over that same-side leg. For example, if you’re throwing right-handed, you’ll put your weight on your right toot. Swing the arm holding the ball back behind you and stride 12 inches forward with the other foot so that you’re in a staggered stance. Your shoulders should remain facing your target. Swing your arm forward, simultaneously transferring your weight onto your lead foot and moving your free arm back slightly to help you maintain balance. Release the ball once your hand is positioned between your waist and shoulder.

Tips for a Good Throw

Where you release the ball will directly affect the accuracy of your throw. If you’re trying to throw the ball low, you should release the ball with your throwing hand about level with your waist. If you want to throw the ball higher, hold onto the ball longer and release it once your hand is up closer to your shoulder. How quickly you swing your arm will affect the velocity of your throw. A slower-swinging arm will result in a slower and shorter-distance throw. Swing your arm faster if you want the ball to be delivered more quickly or are looking to throw the ball farther. To throw a ball underarm as far as possible, swing your arm as fast as you can and release the ball at a 45-degree angle.

Practicing the Underarm Throw

It’ll take practice to master the underarm throw technique and to get a feel for release points and how quickly you need to swing your arm. Head out to a field or another open area with a partner. Begin by standing five yards apart and toss the ball to each other using the underarm technique. Try to aim for your partner’s chest, making adjustments to your release point and arm swing speed as necessary. After every 20 reps, take a few steps back and repeat.

When to Use Underarm Technique

While a ball thrown overhand will provide you with greater velocity, there are benefits to utilizing the underarm technique in sports. Using an underarm toss improves your throwing accuracy at shorter distances. You’ll likely have seen a baseball pitcher field a ground ball and then move closer to first base before using an underarm throw to deliver the ball to the first baseman for the out. An athlete playing shortstop or second base will often use the underarm throw to gently deliver the ball when she’s a few yards away from her teammate covering second base. In addition, when playing with a young child, an underarm throw lets you deliver a ball that’s slower and has greater loft.