Most toddlers learn how to throw well before they can kick. I have noticed this as most of my patients’ parents have cleared their coffee tables, dressers, side tables, and any other piece of furniture in their house.
Throwing a ball usually comes after 12 months, and by throwing a ball, I mean throwing an object (hopefully a ball) in a purposeful direction, and not just flinging it or pushing it off the side of a table.
Kicking usually comes after a child has been walking for a few months, usually after 14-15 months. Kicking a ball usually takes longer because it requires the ability to balance on one leg long enough to kick a ball with the other leg. I discussed how to improve standing balance in a previous post.
Most children prefer to pick up balls and throw them, rather than kick them, unless they group up around siblings who play lots of soccer 🙂
Here are some methods I use to encourage children to kick a ball:
1- Holding both hands while walking up to a ball.
2- Having them hold an object in their hands to distract them from using their hands to kick a ball, such as a sippy cup or favorite toy.
3- Kicking a ball at a target like a creative goal or kicking a
ball to knock over blocks.
4- Kicking a stack of blocks over rather than kicking a ball. I sometimes use toy bowling pins to either kick a ball into the pins or to try to kick all the pins over.
5- Kicking a ball down hill so it’s more exciting to them to watch the ball move more quickly than they expected.
6- Kicking balls that have lights or sounds after being kicked.
I am a huge soccer fan, so I tend to use lots of “soccer-type” activities in lots of my patients’ obstacle courses.
Kicking a ball is not only helpful in improving standing balance, but also works on motor planning (how the brain helps the body prepare to kick a ball), and coordination (making sure one leg stays on the floor while the other moves to kick the ball and actually make contact with the ball and that you stay standing the whole time 🙂 )
any other methods/tips are welcome 🙂