In our last newsletter, we shared with you the idea that children are ready to learn how to catch a light ball when they are three to four years old. The simple, underhand catch activity for beginners is good for your toddler to begin learning that skill.
Once your child is comfortable with the simple underhand catch, its time to introduce them to overhand catching. This fundamental skill is the foundation for a lot of sports later, such as basketball, baseball and even volleyball.
This activity uses a sock ball, so it can be done indoors or outdoors. It also means your child won’t get hurt if they get bonked in the head! Catching is a very difficult skill, and your child will likely drop the ball frequently at the beginning, so be patient. And keep practising, and smiling.
Make a sock ball
- Find two large, thick socks. Wool work socks are ideal.
- Stuff one sock into the other one, pushing it all the way down to the toe.
- Roll back the outer sock as if you are turning it inside-out. Do this a couple of times until you have a basic ball shape. It won’t be perfectly round, but it doesn’t need to be.
- Stand 2 to 3 metres away from your child.
- Show your child how to stand with their hands in front of their chest, palms forward, fingers separated and pointing upwards, thumbs side-by-side and almost touching. The thumb and index fingers form a “W”.
- Gently toss the sock ball to their hands. Use an underhand toss in the beginning, as it is easier for their eye to track the flight of the ball.
- Your child’s hands should move to adjust for the toss. At first, they won’t move their hands quickly enough. This is a natural part of the learning process as their eyes learn to track the ball and move their hands accordingly.
- If your child is struggling, try moving closer. Make your toss very short, so the ball travels as little as one metre in the air.
- As your child starts to catch the sock ball consistently you can increase the distance of your toss.
Once your child is consistently catching the sock ball from two and three metres away, challenge them to go further. Make it playful by asking them to back up far as they can to make a “Mega Catch” or a “Super Catch”. Celebrate successful catches with cheers.
Photo from: Domestic Fits