Catching beanbags and small balls

Catching skills at different ages

  • Children with good motor skills learn to catch a beanbag with two hands by the age of 4-5.
  • Catching a tennis sized ball is more difficult and this skill is only achieved at 6-7 years.
  • Catching a tennis ball with one hand requires considerable more coordination and develops later. around about the age of 9-10 years. 

This set of graded activities is designed to train children to catch first a beanbag, then a ball smaller than a soccer ball but larger than a tennis bal and finally graduating to a tennis ball. 

Catching a beanbag 

Typically developing children aged 4-6 years can catch a bean bag 7-8 times out of 10 attemps. A beanbag is easier to catch than a small ball because the positioning of the hand when the bag is caught is less critical .  A bean bag can be grabbed by closing the fingers and does no slip through the fingers in the same way that a small ball does. 

Activity instructions 

Stand facing your child at a distance of about 2-3 meters. 

Instruct the child to lift her hands forwards ready to catch the ball - the hands should be held waist high, facing each other and a small distance apart. 

Focus the child's attention on the task at hand: remind him/her to watch your hands and be ready to catch. You can toss the bag up in the air a few times to help focus attention on what you are doing. 

Carefully throw the ball so that it passes close to the child's hands and a small movement of the hand allows the child to catch the bag. 

The child throws the bag back to you.  

Making the task more difficult 

Throw the beanbag a little faster and even a little harder. 

Once the child can catch a beanbag easily in front of the body, start to vary the flight path of the beanbag. Throw it a little to the left or the right.  Changing the direction of the beanbags flight path trains the child to pay careful attention to your throwing action in order to predict the movement of the beanbag after it has left your hand. 

Catching a small ball

Once your child is able to catch a beanbag successfully at least 8 out of 10 times progress to practicing catching a small ball. Start with a ball that is larger than a tennis ball but smaller than a soccer ball. 

The progression is the same one used when practicing catching a soccer sized ball.