Raise a ball-skills boffin

Soccer balls, tennis balls, colourful beach balls or quirky bouncy balls – get them out and start kicking, throwing and rolling. It will benefit your child in countless ways.

Being able to handle a ball well can lead to a lifetime of enjoyable participation in sports as well as better health. Who knows, you may even be raising a sports superstar! But it’s not only about sport and action – good ball sense is just one of the results of good hand-eye and foot-eye coordination.

Children also need good coordination skills to carry out simple tasks such as getting dressed, putting toothpaste on a toothbrush and pouring juice.

This leads to mastering more complicated activities such as playing video games, colouring in, cutting with scissors, writing with a pen or pencil, using a computer mouse and developing spatial awareness – all of which are important skills for mathematics. So this is serious stuff!

While ball sense is something one is born with, it can also be developed and improved, says Anne van Niekerk of Playball, a sports programme arranged through schools. Playball has a fun approach to physical training: the goal is to improve children’s ball skills – and therefore handeye and foot-eye coordination – while they take part in fun activities.

‘‘Just remember that children’s development phases are not set in stone,’’ says Dana-Anne Katz, a Cape Town occupational therapist. ‘‘All children develop skills in their own time and some will be more skilled in certain areas than others.’’

Give your children the edge with the help of our milestone guide and a few valuable tips for improving their ball sense:
"Play with me!" for two year olds
"I can do this ball thing" for 3 and 4 year olds
"Look! I caught it!" for 5 and 6 year olds
"Watch me go!" for 7 and 8 year olds
"Look what I can do now!" for 9 and 10 year olds
"Sign me up!" for 11 and 12 year olds

Do you think it's beneficial to play ball games with children?

For more on family fitness visit Health24.
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