In this post, we attempt to describe the main techniques for throwing the ball out of hands. Each technique has its advantages and disadvantages, and difficulty of use.

Throwing made simple

There are basically four techniques for throwing the ball out of hands – one of the most efficient methods of distributing the ball. “Baseball”, Overarm, Sling and Roll. We’ll cover each, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Finally we’ll look at some scenarios where they might best be used.

The over-arm throw

The first throw is the over-arm, where the ball starts in the hand, behind the body, and is catapulted over the shoulder to release. The arm comes over the shoulder, and follows through towards the ground after the ball has left the hand. This follow through guarantees maximum power and flight of the ball.

With the over-arm it’s possible to get really good distance, say 30-35 yards, with pinpoint accuracy. The arm’s whole motion is aimed at the receiver.

Meanwhile it’s possible to induce “backspin” on the ball as it’s released.

By backspin, we mean the motion of the ball as it leaves the hand. The ball will spin “backwards” away from the direction of the throw, and this will help slow the ball as it arrives at the receiver. It’ll also help keep the ball on the ground as it arrives.

Use the other non-throwing arm to aim the ball where your targeting the throw.

The baseball throw

The baseball throw is common in the US, less so amongst keepers outside. Most kids are taught to pitch a baseball and so it’s a natural throw even with a soccer ball.

It’s easier to hold the ball as it’s being throw, and it can offer decent distance and accuracy. Baseball throws of 20-25 yards are not typicaly difficult.

But the big downside is the lack of backspin. We saw above how the overarm throw naturally induces a backspin, where the ball spins against the motion of the ball, so slowing it down and keeping it lower.

With a baseball throw the ball typically arrives with a lot of energy and can skip up in front of the receiver making it hard to control. A skilled keeper can induce backspin, by pushing down as the ball is released, but this can make the throw inaccurate and weak.

The Sling

An adaptation of the overarm throw above, the sling is thrown across the body rather than over the shoulder.

The ball starts in the same position, directly behind the keeper – see pic of Hope Solo below. The arm is brought across the body from the side, and the ball leaves the hand just below the neck level. The arm follows through across the body. The non-throwing arm can act help “aiming” the throw, but it’s all a little more awkward than the overarm through.

However, this throw can be easier to master for many keepers, and can be just as effective.

Distance achieved can be good, and accuracy is reasonable.

But it’s difficult to get any backspin on the ball. Instead the sling is likely to create “swerve” away from the receiver, towards the same side as the arm that throws the ball.

In other words a right handed will create side swerve such that the ball is likely to swing to the right once it arrives at the receiver.

A left handed “slinger” is likely to induce swerve towards the left.

Try it yourself.

The roll

The final throw is the roll – where the ball is under-arm rolled towards the receiver.

This is very accurate, although distance is sacrificed. Similarly, once the ball hits the ground it will quickly start to lose energy and the roll will die.

So the roll is ideal for short, accurate throws to receivers close at hand, say 10-20 yards away.

The roll typically induces “top-spin”, which helps the ball travel forward – the opposite of backspin which slows the ball down.

But the ball will be slowing anyway once it arrives at the receiver, so this is an easier ball for the receiver to control and utilize, making it ideal for quick distribution.

Make sure to lower the body, balancing the frame and bending the knees, to get the correct “bowling” action, as in the pic below.

Which throw is best ?

As you’d expect, it depends.

It depends upon several things;

  • the thrower’s skill and comfort
  • The distance to the receiver
  • The state of the field – is it wet?
  • The ability of the receiver
  • The attention of the opponent’s – how close etc

Therefore we’d suggest a few golden rules.

If the opponent’s are not pressing, and the receiver has time and space to receive, that use the throw your most comfortable with.

If the receiver is a distance away, say 25 yards, try the over-arm throw. You’ll need to throw hard and firm as the distance is long, but the overarm will offer backspin which will slow the ball as it arrives, making it easier to control.

If the receiver is close, try the roll. Again it’s easier to gain accuracy and control the speed at which it arrives at the receiver.

The sling is fine for long throws (25-30 yards) and where accuracy isn’t as important. Note if your right/left handed the ball will swing away to the right/left away from the receiver.

The baseball throw is difficult to control, and as such should be avoided. It’s difficult to get the pace and power right, the ball is coming in at a decent height, and will likely bounce up at the receiver on arrival, making control difficult. It’s also difficult to get any backspin on the ball to slow and lower the angle of arrival.

But above all, use the one your most comfortable with, and attempt to practice it with targets and objectives.

We like to throw the ball into the goal, having pushed it back towards the NFL goal post, which is in the centre of the soccer goal. Aim the throw at the NFL post, from varying distances, like 15,20 and 25 yards.

Then repeat, but by pitching the ball (first bounce) inside the goal – ie behind the goal-line), before it hits the NFL post target.

Try this from an angle, outside the line of the 6 yard box.

It will be hard to hit the target, especially once the inside-goal-line restriction is imposed.

But if you can achieve these targets, you should be able to hit your defender’s feet from 25 yards.

Believe it or not, the roll is probably the most difficult in this respect as the ball must not bounce until it’s inside the goal, before hitting the NFL post.

Give them all a try, and chose two to master over decent distances.