From an early age young children take an interest in playing with balls: they like to toss and kick them and crawl or walk after them. As they get older children enjoy playing ball games with their peers and their parents. And the more they practice catching, throwing, kicking and hitting the more skilled they become.
Ball games provide children repeated opportunities to practice the two important aspects of catching, throwing and kicking: these are visual information gathering and then using this information to plan the movements needed for a particular task.
In other words ball games require:
By the age of 5-6 young children have acquired some basic ball skills: they can catch a medium sized ball with two hands, they can throw a ball at a target with a degree of accuracy and they can kick a ball towards a target.
Children with poor ball skills have often not mastered these basic skills and are very aware that their peers do better than they do. As a result the child avoids ball games and misses out on opportunities for improving their skills.
Two reasons why practicing ball skills is important
The first is that it is important for young children to have the confidence and skill needed to join their peers in playground activities rather than feeling inadequate and left out.
The second is that practicing ball skills is a really good way to train attention, persistence, and willingness to fail and try again. A carefully graded ball skills training program allows the child to succeed at a valued task and also teaches that repeated practice leads to improvement in task performance..
The child also learns to tolerate failure: he/she learns to view a failed attempt as just a mistake that can be corrected next time round. This is very important because children with poor ball skills often have an anxious nature and experience a strong negative emotional response when they fail or make a mistake.
What you can expect a child to do
Ball catching skills
By the age of 5-6 years a child can catch a soccer sized ball 7-8 out of 10 times:
Catch a tennis ball with two hands 7-8 times out of 10:
Ball throwing skills
The child of 5-6 years should be able to:
Soccer kicking skills
At the age of 5-7 a child should be able to kick a soccer-sized ball towards a target, including:
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