Ball-and-Socket Joint: Mobility in Every Direction

Contributor: Kaitlyn Aston. Lesson ID: 12812

Can you swat a mosquito on your left shoulder with your right arm? Or pull a belt around your waist or dance a jig or scratch the back of your head? A cool joint in your body lets you do this stuff!


Life Science

learning style
Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Grade Level
Primary (K-2), Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


If you were to throw a baseball, or scratch your back, side, and front, your shoulder would move in a lot of different directions. Do you know what kind of joint a shoulder joint is?

From throwing a baseball to climbing up a tree to helping vacuum the house, your shoulders do a lot of moving around.

  • Have you ever noticed how you can move your shoulder joints in almost any direction?

Go ahead, give it a try. Reach above your head, in front of you, to the sides, and even behind you. Your shoulders can twist and turn so that you can reach in almost any direction.

  • Have you ever noticed that your hip joint works in the same way, too?

Your hip joints have the mobility to move you from standing up to doing a split.

  • Do you think our shoulder and hip joints are similar to the hinge joint you learned about in the last Bones Related Lesson, found in the right-hand sidebar?

Let’s check in with Dr. Jo to find out!


  • Can you imagine having a floppy elbow like Dr. Jo mentioned?

It would seem strange! But this is why humans have ball-and-socket joints for their shoulders and hips instead of their elbows! The end of one bone sits inside the “cupped” end of another bone, thereby creating a ball-and-socket joint!

  • But did you know that your body is made up of about six different freely-moving joints?

And you have only learned about two so far! A ball-and-socket joint is only one of them!

Continue on to the Got It? section to have a ball looking for more joints!

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