Hot on the heels of our post on learning how to throw and catch, we're taking a look at how to hit something.
Why Hit Things?
Establishing these sporting skills in younger life will help your child to participate in team sports both in and out of school, which is great for both physical and mental well-being.
In addition to the sporting element, being able to hit something is immensely satisfying in itself and a great way to relieve stress and release tension. One of the earliest lessons parents learn is that it is much more effective to show a child what you would like them to do, than tell them what they shouldn't. If you have a little ball of energy intent of bashing siblings or something in the house, taking them outside for a game of bat and ball can really help refocus their attention.
Make It Easy
It's easier to hit: - something large than something small - something moving slowly than something moving fast - something that moves predictably than something erratic - something with your hand than something with an item held in your hand.
Start by patting a balloon back and forth between you and your child using just hands.
When they are ready to move on to using a tool and ball, start by rolling the ball along the ground. Your child will only need to judge horizontal movement and speed and can forget about height.
Increase The Difficulty
Once your child is able to knock a ball back and forth with a racket, or hit a bowled ball with a bat, it's time to start honing those skills.
Practice putting by laying plastic cups horizontally on the grass and assigning points to each one.
To develop accuracy, practice chipping balls through the gaps in the climbing frame ladder. If more than one child is playing you can give this game a competitive edge by giving each gap a points value.
Swingball or an adjustable height net are both inexpensive items of sports equipment that can make playing with a bat and ball more fun, and won't take up too much room in your garden.
Alternatively, a table tennis table can help older children practice hand-to-eye coordination and speed up their reaction times, which will help improve their abilities in other sports too.
Link With Other Skills
The ability to hit something relies heavily on hand-eye co-ordination, as does throwing and catching. These skills don't need to be learnt in any particular order, so let your child take the lead and go with what they enjoy.
What Next? You can get more tips and tricks in the rest of our sporting skills series.