|You can enjoy a football long before you can kick it!
From mini marbles to mummy's massive maternity ball, boys love spheres. You can roll them, throw them, kick them, bounce them, spin them, get them in the net or through a hoop, hit them with a bat, racket or club and if you're really clever- catch them!
Playing with balls is all about co-ordination, hand-eye or foot-eye. Kicking a still football is challenge enough for a toddler, kicking a moving ball requires even more skill- getting the timing right is really tricky.
I'm afraid our two are unlikely to be destined for sporting success as neither of their parents are particularly sporty- although Martin does a lot of running and I now occasionally play netball with the village club. However I do think ball skills are really important- both as a way in to exercise and as a social thing. Having a kick-around with your mates is a good bonding time for boys.
|Serious concentration required for "marble thru' the tunnel."
|I'm not a ball!!
|He shoots, he scores!
|Anyone for croquet?
Hitting a ball is a different skill again, but still requires great hand-eye co-ordination. For little ones, trying to hit a ball to each other is nigh-on impossible. The chances that their shot will go in the right direction, and that the other will be able to anticipate and hit it back are pretty much non-existent. Bowling a ball to them so they can hit it with a "boom bat" or large headed tennis racket is easier, or just letting them whack a ball to see how far they can send it, so they begin to get their eye in, is lots of fun.
|Perfecting his spin bowling!
Basically, if you play a few ball games with your little one, they will quickly begin to set their own challenges and learn all sorts of new skills, both physical and social if they've got someone to play with, which will come in handy when they're picking teams at school!
|I can do "kick tricks!"
|Small boys, jumpers for goal-posts!
For more things to try with balls, check out my posts on drainpipes and paint.