It's probably been a while since you learned how to catch a throw a ball, so you've probably forgotten how difficult it is. If your child is struggling to learn this vital sports skill this handy guide will help you give them the understanding and practical support they need to become a first rate ball handler.
Why Ball Skills Are Important Most children learn how to throw and catch a ball in their own time. Some however will struggle with this skill until a later age than their peers. A simple game of throw and catch helps develop hand-eye co-ordination, and promotes bilateral co-ordination, essential for tasks that involve using both sides of the body at the same time (so most of them then).
Children who are unable to throw and catch when their friends can may suffer from self-esteem problems and feel reluctant to join in games with their friends. As a result they miss out on opportunities to practice the skill they need to develop. for older children the ability to throw and catch a ball is an essential foundation for sports such as tennis, basketball and dodge ball. Without this skill they may struggle to participate in team games.
Be Sympathetic Try to avoid uttering phrases such as 'when I was your age' and 'but it's easy'. Instead focus on the fact that we all have different things that we struggle with but eventually with practice overcome. If you can give an example of a simple skill it took you a while to master this will serve as great inspiration to your child and build the trust between you.
It may also help if you save the practice activities outlined below for a private space such as your back garden, where peers won't be looking on.
Making It Easy To teach your child how to throw and catch you need to make the process as simple as possible, then gradually increase the level of difficulty until you are able to stand 10 ft apart and confidently throw a tennis ball back and forth.
A less challenging way to become familiar with the size and weight of a tennis ball is through rolling it back and forth on the ground to each other. Enjoy a casual conversation as you do it.Another way to practice is to use a swing ball. You can use this together or your child can practice alone, standing in one spot and catching the ball in their hands each time it comes around.
Now you are ready to try throwing and catching it. Start gently and relatively close together. When you have completed a number of successful catches, take a step back and so on. If a tennis ball is too tricky, use a larger ball with a little give to it (not a soccer ball) like a beach ball, volley ball or the type you cold play dodge ball with. For younger children, a balloon is great to practice catching skills with as it is large and slow.
You can find more tips in our sports skills series of blog posts.