We continue this week with the 3-part series of "Development of Early Ball Skills".
FLINGING A BALL: As soon as children are walking well, they are ready to start flinging a ball. When a child is able to walk with their hands at their sides (typically at 15 months old or about 3 months after they start walking) they should have enough control to stand and raise their arm to shoulder height.
For initial exposure to ball throwing, I prefer a “Koosh” ball, small stuffed animal, or other soft object that won’t roll away when it lands. (Again, I love a foam ball--see our Foam Ball Sets). This allows more time to practice the actual skill of throwing rather than chasing the ball as it rolls all over the house and gets trapped under furniture. When a stuffed animal lands, it usually stays put and is easy to retrieve! The typical pattern children initially use when starting to throw a ball is called “forward fling”. With the arm raised to about shoulder height, kids will move their arm forward and fling the ball downward with a flick at the wrist (wrist flexion).
OVERHAND THROW: It typically takes several months before an actual overhand throw develops, typically between 27-28 months of age. A true overhand throw requires a child to raise their hand over their head, rotate their trunk and weight shift from one foot to the other while bringing their arm forward and releasing the ball at the top of the arc of movement. Frequently children who are just learning to throw overhand will release prematurely and the ball will fall off their hand backward instead of moving forward. Some children persist in a forward fling pattern because they don’t know to raise their arm; I will demonstrate raising my arm in the air over my head and say something like, “Arm up!” Then I release the ball accompanied by, “Throw the ball!” Getting the child in this ‘start’ position usually leads to a successful throwing pattern.
Playing with balls is fun and develops strength and coordination and leads to success in sports and other coordinated movements. There are great Velcro Balls with Velcro Mitts that can develop hand strength and postural control during ball play.
Don't miss next week:
Development of Early Ball Skills Part III: Kicking and Catching a Ball
Blog Administrator: Trisha Roberts
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