Overhand Throw

Young girl holding ball in throwing position


For this task, you’ll need:

  • A large wall (target area)
  • 1 pylon (2 metres away from the wall)
  • Tennis ball (or similar)


 “I want you to throw the ball at the wall and make it bounce back over the top of your head. I want you to throw the ball as best you can. Please try to throw the ball against the wall as best you can. Ready? Throw now.”

Rating System



Presence of numerous major gaps in execution

  • Throw fails to produce ball motion in the desired direction
  • Insufficient distance/velocity
  • Limb motion restricted to a single joint or upper limb
  • No coordination with trunk or lower limbs
  • No weight shift
  • Trunk rotation absent 


Limited number of major gaps, but able to execute basic sequencing of the task

  • Ball is sent with poor speed or trajectory (one of the two)
  • Basic sequencing of lower body to trunk to upper limb action is evident
  • Weight transfer limited
  • May appear disjointed in sequencing of limb motion
  • Very limited follow-through



     Basic level of execution with minor     sequencing errors

  • Trajectory and speed of ball is adequate
  • Sequencing of lower body, trunk and upper body is present but limited
  • Weight shift is minimal
  • Follow-through present but limited
  • Trunk rotation present but limited


     Overall proficiency is depicted by the     quality of the movements

  • Velocity of ball is good
  • Trajectory of ball is well controlled
  • Upper and lower body sequencing is present
  • Weight shift is pronounced from trail to lead leg
  • Follow-through is present and fluid
  • Very evident trunk rotation

Assessment Example

Becky just turned 10. She wants to play a whole bunch of sports this summer, which pleases her mom, Beth. Beth is a physiotherapist and knows how important it is to be physically literate. She decides to use the PLAY Tools with Becky to see if there are any gaps in her daughter's development of physical literacy. As Becky works through the overhand throw task in PLAYfun, Beth sees a number of things that Becky does well, and a few that will need some work.

The first thing Beth notices is the consistency with which Becky throws the ball at the wall so that it bounces back above Becky's head. She manages to get enough trajectory and velocity on the ball almost every time, and her accuracy with where the ball lands is pretty steady as well. Becky also displays a smooth follow-through. Not only does she bring her hand well behind her head, she extends her arm through in a fluid motion.

From there, Beth pays attention to Becky's trunk rotation and stance. When Becky begins the motion, she is too square to the wall, which cuts down on her trunk rotation. This lack of trunk rotation in turn diminishes the appropriate weight shift from trailing leg to front leg.

Beth sees that Becky's power, accuracy and arm movement are all well-developed areas of strength, but that Becky really needs to focus on her stance and trunk rotation. Once Becky has refined her technique in this regard, Beth believes her daughter's weight shift from trailing leg to front leg will develop more naturally as well, as she already has the tendency to shift weight when she throws. Because of this, Beth places a check in the “Competent” box close to “Emerging”.