Stages of Development
Teaching and Learning

We don’t normally see fully developed catching skills until the ages of 6-9 years. Children need a lot of opportunities to attempt to catch as they learn to track the trajectory of a ball. This may take the form of rolling a ball and chasing after it, or passing a ball around a circle and reaching out for it. These type of activities help build confidence as children develop their ball tracking skills.

Teaching cues
  1. Eyes on the ball
  2. Soft fingers
  3. Butterfly hands: thumbs together and fingers pointing up for balls being caught above the waist
  4. Wriggly worms: fingers pointing down for balls being caught below the waist
  5. Move hands to the ball
Teaching strategies

  • Try using buckets or upside down cones to catch balls with activities like Witch's Cauldron. This helps children track balls and move their hands and arms to the ball.
  • Practice reaching out for balls with activities such as Cat and Mouse
  • Use soft balls and beanbags that small hands can grasp. 
  • Avoid using large balls as children can get in the habit of trapping the ball on their chest rather than reaching out for the ball. 
  • Play games where children all have a ball or beanbag such as Wicked Witch or All Types of Catching. Practice moving the ball around body and rolling the ball then chasing after it, bouncing the ball on the ground and catching. These activities will help build confidence and beginning catching skills.

  • Introduce butterfly fingers for balls above the waist and wriggly worms for balls below the waist
  • Try catching with different sized balls
  • The easiest ball to catch is one children throw or bounce to themselves. Play games such as Catch Tag and Catching Obstacle Courses  
  • Introduce equipment such as velcro catch sets and play Sticky Catches

  • Challenge children to catch balls thrown at a greater speed or distance
  • Play activities where children throw and catch to each other - Corner Spry and Volleyball Catch
  • Start moving to catch the ball
  • Try catching with one hand
  • Try games that employ some strategy - Race the Ball and Modified Basketball
Skill criteria
  • Eyes focused on the ball
  • Feet move to place body in line with ball
  • Hands move to meet the object
  • Hands and fingers relaxed and slightly cupped to catch the ball
  • Catches and controls the ball with hands only (well timed closure)
  • Elbows bend to absorb the force of the ball
Common errors
  • Trapping the ball on the chest
  • Turning head away from the ball or closing eyes
  • Stiff and extended arms

More catching activities

Running, Jumping, Catching, Dodging, Hopping, Galloping, Underarm Throw
hands up
Running, Catching, Dodging
Catching, Overarm Throw