Catching: How to teach kids to catch correctly

Catching: How to teach kids to catch correctly

Catching is a fundamental skill for many games and activities. Does your child show an interest in baseball or basketball? Do you imagine introducing them to cricket, football, or Frisbee someday? Catching is essential. 

Like all fundamental movement skills, catching isn’t a skill that just “happens” on its own. It needs to be learned and developed. Children need to be introduced to catching and have opportunities to develop their skill until they can feel confident catching in a variety of games, activities, and situations. 

Basic movements of catching 

To catch an object such as a ball or a disk in flight, these are the movements your child needs to learn:

  • Move your body into the object’s flight path. We often say “get your body behind it” so you aren’t reaching sideways to catch it. (If you get your body behind it, and you miss your catch, your body will still stop it.) 
  • Make sure the palms of your hands are facing forward. 
  • If the object is arriving at chest height or higher, your fingers should point up and your thumbs should be almost touching.
  • If the object is arriving below your chest, your fingers should point down and your two pinky fingers should be almost touching.
  • Keep your eyes on the object and watch it all the way into your hands.
  • As you receive the object with your hands, bring the object to your body.

Try these activities with your child 

If your child is between one and three years old, try playing Basket Catch.

  • Get a large, soft foam ball or make a sock ball by stuffing two socks into one another. The ball should be 10-15 cm in diameter.  
  • Show your child how to hold their hands and forearms in front of their stomach like a bowl or “basket.”
  • Start by tossing the ball into your child’s “basket” from about 30 cm away.
  • As your child becomes confident catching at this distance, increase the distance of your toss slightly. 
  • Eventually, see if your toddler can catch from one or even two metres away. Keep it fun, however, by ensuring regular success. if your child is only catching one in three tosses, you need to decrease the distance.  

If your child is between three and eight years old, try playing simple underhand catch.  

  • This is a simple progression from Basket Catch above. Again, get a large, soft foam ball or make a sock ball by stuffing two socks into one another. The ball should be 10-15 cm in diameter.  
  • Show your child how to stand ready to catch underhand: hands at waist height in front of the stomach, palms facing up, and pinky fingers almost touching.
  • Stand 2-3 metres from your child and gently toss the ball into their hands.
  • If your child has difficulty catching the ball, move closer (as little as 30 cm for younger children).
  • As your child begins to catch the ball consistently, move farther away to challenge your child a little more. 
  • Try to keep your ball tosses at waist height.

With older children ages six to 12 years who have developed some confidence in underhand catching, you can introduce them to overhand catch

  • Start with a beanbag, soft foam ball, or sock ball.
  • Show your child how to stand ready to catch overhand: hands at shoulder height, palms forward, fingers pointing up, thumbs almost touching.
  • Stand 2-3 metres from your child and gently toss the ball into their hands.
  • If your child has difficulty catching the ball, move closer.
  • As your child begins to catch the ball consistently, move farther away to challenge your child a little more.  
  • Try to keep your ball tosses at head height.

Congratulations! You’ve given your child a good start in developing their ability to catch. As they meet with opportunities to play catching games with other children, they will have more confidence to join the fun and be part of the activity.  


Read more about skill development:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.