Movement of the Month: When Do Kids Learn How To Catch?

Movement of the Month: When Do Kids Learn How To Catch?

Like all Fundamental Movement Skills, every child develops at their own pace. Children are typically able to explore tracking a ball that is rolled towards them at around 18 months. At around 30 months, children can explore holding their arms out and “catching” a ball that is gently tossed towards them. With practice, children are typically able to demonstrate proficient catching between the ages of 6-9.

Why is it important for kids to learn how to catch?
-Only 2% of preschoolers in the U.S. can catch a ball.
-Tracking an object with your eyes helps build the muscles required to track words and letters across a page while reading and writing.

-Catching develops hand-eye coordination, bilateral coordination, and spatial awareness, all skills that translate directly to a variety of sports and physical activities. 
How do I know if my child is ready to catch a ball?

Remember, every child develops at their own unique pace! Here are some common milestones you may see:

-tracking a ball that is rolled towards them
-hugging a ball into their chest
-catching a ball with their arms and hands against their chest
-catching different sized balls in their hands

Watch video to see the different milestones


How can I help teach my child how to catch?

Children learn how to catch through continued practice, exploration, and encouragement. Whether you start with bubbles, balloons, or beach balls, here are 3 fun activities to try with your little ones!

1. Pillow or Beach Ball Catch: Encourage your little one to fully extend their arms and gently underhand toss a light pillow or beach ball towards them. For more fun, try making up imaginary stories about the pillow or ball! For example: “the pillow is slippery”, “the pillow is heavy”, or “the pillow is silly”.

2. Balloon Catch: Balloons are great tools to help young children practice catching! Balloons move slowly through the air, providing the child with enough time to track the object and get into the ideal position for catching.

3. Bubbles! Bubbles are another great way for children to develop hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness, which are both foundational elements of catching. As the bubbles fall towards the ground, children are able to track and pop the bubbles with various parts of their bodies.

Note: This information is meant for educational purposes only. Always reach out to your pediatrician, physical or occupational therapist with specific questions and concerns about your child’s development.

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1 comment

Haven’t thought about practicing catching at a young age. Thank you for the activities.

Chris Pisani

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