Passing and Catching

No matter which ball sport your child decides to try, he or she is going to have to learn how to judge and control the direction, height, speed, force and distance of the ball in order to be able to pass and catch it. That might sound like quite a lot for a young child to take in but if you play the right games and exercise with them, they can pick it up quickly.

REMEMBER that this website is designed to help you to “play effectively” with your kids. This is quite different from coaching. If the games, tasks and challenges are set up well, kids will learn without being told… Stand opposite the child about 2 steps apart. Throw the ball towards the child so that he/she must move forwards to meet it and catch it without letting it bounce, either with their hands or in a cone, small bucket or box. When they can manage this, increase the distance between you… and then try to catch after a bounce. This is trickier!!

Catching On The Run:

Stand about 6 steps apart. Throw the ball high in the air so that the child has to run forward and either:

A) catch the ball without it bouncing,
B) after a bounce,
C) hit it back with a hand or a mini bat.

You could even introduce headers here, but make sure the ball is a very lightweight one. Don’t need tears!

Child faces you – about 3 steps apart. Throw the ball (underhand) towards the child as if you were aiming for the chest. The child has to move backwards so as not to let the ball hit them and catch the ball after one bounce. The important thing in this exercise is that the child gets behind the ball. You can vary this exercise by using a cone, a small box, bucket or even a plastic bag to catch the ball. Once you’ve tried that, move on to a mini bat to hit the ball back.

Directing The Pass And Catch:

Give the child a starting place on a line or at a marker cone or skittle. Position 4 (or more) other targets around the garden. The child can hit, kick, roll or throw a ball (any size or weight) towards the target. You could make each of the target areas a mini goal – always good for boys! Or you can use yourself as a moving object! Just move from place to place and ask the child to direct the ball to you without changing his starting point. He/she will discover how they have to move their body and feet in order to make the ball go to the chosen target.

Remember to have a target behind the child as well as in front. This will allow them to experiment with throwing/kicking/rolling the ball behind them.

Find a wall or a fence and place a number of different objects around it at varying heights and distances. Hoops, buckets, cones, skittles are perfect. Balls can be thrown, kicked, rolled or hit with a racket. Or tie a number of balloons to the fence (or the back of a chair) and throw balls at them till they burst. This little fun game can become even more attractive if you fill the balloons with sweets or treats! If you position the balloons high in the fence or hanging off the washing line, this becomes a height recognition exercise (how to throw high) and encourages the overarm throw which is so important in tennis, badminton and cricket… but it could also become a force recognition exercise because you need to throw (or kick) reasonably hard to burst the balloon.

I always liked to play “aiming games” with the boys. Boys being boys, they always loved to knock things down or hit targets. We had great fun in the garden setting up targets with skittles, water bottles, soft toys or cardboard boxes and finding different ways to hit them… making sure that there were underarm and overarm throws and hits. As well as plenty of kicks!!

I’m all for kids learning to do things with both sides of their body and not just the side they choose to write with. That’s why I’m suggesting that in any passing and catching games you play, encourage them to throw and catch with both left and right hands. Same applies to being able to kick and trap the ball with left and right foot.