Ball skills are oftentimes overlooked as an activity only for boys, or only for athletic children. However, ball skills are an important activity for children of all interests and abilities to practice consistently. Ball skills not only prepare children for gym class at school and extracurricular activities, but they help to address bilateral skills, hand-eye coordination, timing, sequencing, motor planning, and attention. Ball skills can include, but are not limited to: throwing and catching, dribbling, kicking, and aiming for a target. Here are some activities to try at home:
5 Ball Games To Play With Your Child For Developmental Exercise Purposes:
- Ball at the wall: Find a safe wall (e.g. outside), and have your child throw a ball at the wall and catch it in their hands. To make it easier, throw the ball at the wall, allow it to bounce once on the ground, and then catch it in hands. Use a playground size ball to start, and work towards using a tennis ball.
- Popcorn: Throw a ball overhead (towards the ceiling), trying to see how many times your child is able to clap their hands (while the ball is in the air) before catching the ball in their hands. For another challenge, see what words your child can spell while clapping their hands, before catching the ball.
- Dribbling: Set-up cones or other obstacles for your child to weave between as they dribble a ball using either one hand or alternating hands. If they bump into a cone with their body or the ball, have them begin at the start again to help them to work on body awareness and a slow and steady pace, rather than rushing through the activity. Make it into a relay by timing them or having them race a partner.
- Laundry-basket basketball: Have your child hold a laundry basket at about chest or trunk level as you toss beanbags or rolled up socks for them to catch. Make sure to make the throws unpredictable as the child becomes successful, to work on moving their body and keeping their eyes on the ball.
- Upside down basketball: Place a barrel or bucket and a few balls behind your child to serve as the hoop and the basketball. Have your child lay on their back over an exercise ball so that their head is inverted (upside down), as you hold onto their legs. Next, have your child reach overhead with both hands to pick-up one ball and toss it into the hoop as they remain upside down. Lastly, have your child squeeze their tummy muscles to pull themselves back up into a seated position on top of the exercise ball.