Movement of the Month: What is the Difference Between Jumping and Hopping?

Movement of the Month: What is the Difference Between Jumping and Hopping?

Jumping and hopping are often used interchangeably, but here are helpful definitions to understand the difference:
Jumping: Jumping off the ground with two feet and landing on two feet.
Hopping: Jumping off of the ground with one leg and landing on that same leg.
Leaping: Jumping off of the ground with one leg and landing on the opposite leg.

Hopping on one leg is one of the most important foundational skills that young children can learn. It is a continuous rhythmic skill that requires the ability to balance on one leg, and then without putting the other leg down or falling over, generate enough force on the standing leg to hop off the ground and land on the same foot. Learning to hop typically comes after children have a solid foundation of jumping and is a good indicator of their ability to maintain balance while moving.

Because bunnies “hop” on two legs, many people consider hopping a rhythmic and continuous jump on two feet. The important message in all of this is that it is important for children to explore all of the above variations of jumping and hopping to build a solid foundation of movement!

Did you Know?
-Children typically begin hopping on one leg between the ages of 3-5 ,and with enough practice and opportunities to explore, will often become proficient at the skill by age 7 or 8!
-Hopping is an important skill to develop for safe body management, for example when a child falls off balance or loses their footing. 
-It serves as a foundation for jumping rope, skipping, galloping, striking  a ball, balancing on one leg while getting dressed, and ultimately helps improve a child's ability to stop and change direction. 

What milestones will my child reach while learning how to hop?

Remember, every child develops at their own unique pace! Here are some common progressions you can try with your little ones as they explore hopping! 

-balance on one foot
-hop on one leg in place while holding onto a chair or using the wall for balance
-hop form one leg and land on two feet 
-hop on one leg continuously 3-5 times
-hop while alternating feet every few reps
-hop over a small object 
-hop in different directions: forward, backward, sideways
-play hopscotch

How can I help teach my child how to hop?

Children love to mimic other children and adults! Often by saying the word, "hop" while you are demonstrating the movement, children begin to learn what the word and the motion mean.  Check out these fun and simple activities that will encourage your children to explore this new skill:

1. Kick a ball or balloon around the house or try holding a yoga tree pose! These are great ways to practice the balancing required for the beginning phases of hopping on one leg!

2. Trace your child’s foot on colored paper and tape the footprints to the floor. Encourage your child to hop along the footprint path! 

3. Pick a number and see if your child can hop on one foot that many times in a row. As they progress, turn on your favorite tunes and encourage them to hop to the beat around the house! 

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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