The skill of catching takes many years to master. Children need to develop several skills to be able to catch successfully, these include hand-eye coordination, being able to track an object visually and fine motor skills to grasp an object. Children needs plenty of opportunities playing with balls of different shapes and sizes to develop the skill of catching.
Initially introduce some of catching’s starting skills such as visual tracking and fine motor manipulation through ball and beanbag games. Moving balls around the body, tapping balloons up in the air, rolling balls and chasing after them and passing them around a circle will all help develop these skills while building the confidence to catch. When children are ready to start catching, use KIDDO’s teaching vocabulary:
- Eyes on the ball
- Arms reach out for the ball
- If the ball is coming high – butterfly fingers (thumbs together, fingers pointing up)
- If the ball is coming low – wriggly worm finders (fingers pointing down)
To start with young children learn to catch balloons, large balls and beanbags. As they get older and gain more experience they are able to catch balls of different shapes and sizes, thrown at different speeds, with one hand or two hands.
It is important for their confidence levels to help children experience success as they learn to catch. Introduce catching with activities all children can experience success with such as moving beanbags around the body, tapping balloons in the air and rolling balls and chasing after them. As you move on to catching, the easiest ball to catch is one you throw or bounce yourself, use beanbags that little hands can grasp hold off easily.
Provide plenty of opportunities to catch and general ball play. Try asking questions such as:
- Can you move the ball through your legs?
- Try rolling the ball and chasing after it
- What do you do with your hands when you catch?
- Can you try throwing a beanbag in the air and catching it?
- Do you want to throw and catch with me?
Encourage children to explore the skill of catching by providing a range of different sized balls and beanbags. Try some of the ideas below to encourage children to engage in ball play.
- Blow up some balloons and try keeping them in the air – use your hands and feet
- Include ball play in your obstacle courses – bouncing and catching balls or moving beanbags around your waist or throw and catch beanbags while waiting for your turn
- See how many bubbles they can catch or pop?
- Use ribbon balls or scarves to throw in the air and try and catch
- Try rolling or throwing balls against a wall and catching them. First sitting down and rolling then try standing.
Try playing some of KIDDO’s fun and age appropriate activities to encourage children to develop and explore the skill of catching:
- Cat and mouse – pass the ball around the circle, don’t let the cat catch the mouse!
- Friendly pixie – the pixie uses her wand to cast catching spells: throw the beanbag in the air and catch it, move the beanbag around your head, throw the beanbag and chase after it
- All types of ball play – explore catching and throwing with different sized balls. Try balloons, beanbags, beach balls, bouncy balls etc;
- Musical catches – run, jump, gallop. When the music stops get your beanbag and throw it in the air and catch it
Children may initially:
- Trap the ball on their chest,
- Look away to their side, lean away from the ball and
- Close their eyes as they get worried about the ball hitting them
- Have rigid arms and hands and the ball will bounce off their chest
As they gain experience and start developing the skill of catching they will then progress to:
- Catching with their arms and hands
- Moving to the ball.
It is not until children catch a ball with their hands that they are ready to play competitive sports.