Something as simple and as fun as catching requires many skills: hand-eye coordination, gross and fine motor skills and an understanding reciprocal play. Children start learning to kick and throw a ball by the time they are three, but learning to catch is much harder and these skills take time to develop, and it can take up to 10 years to really refine catching.
Here are some tips to help get your child refining those catching skills. Just remember to make it a game and keep it fun, as young children can easily become frustrated if they are unable to master it.
- Start by sitting on the floor opposite your child and rolling a large ball back and forth between you. This will help your child learn about reciprocal play, taking turns, and they will also start to prepare their hands to receive the ball.
- The next step is playing catch with a balloon. A balloon is much easier to catch as it moves slowly allowing your child to watch the ball and prepare their hands for the catch. Start fairly close together and then gradually increase the distance between you.
- Move on to a large foam ball and encourage them to gather the ball into their chest.
- Once they can do this start encouraging them to catch the ball in their hands and fingers.
- Progress to a beanbag and then finally a tennis ball by the age of 5. Start by catching with two hands and then finally one hand.
- Once they can catch more consistently start making it more of a challenge, increase the distance between you and do not throw the ball directly at them so that they learn to move their body position.
- Children learn from watching so demonstrate to them all the time, encourage them to always watch the ball, prepare their hands and move their body in line with the ball.
When to seek advice:
- If your child is struggling to catch by 4 years of age.
- If you notice your child is unable to follow the ball with their eyes.
- If your child is unable to prepare their hands appropriately.
If your child is finding it hard to catch they may benefit from an assessment by a physiotherapist so we can check their coordination. Difficulty with catching can be a sign of Developmental Coordination Disorder. Are you concerned that your child is unable to catch? Our highly specialist paediatric physios are able to see your child at home or school. Contact us today 0207 884 0374 or email us at email@example.com.