Kickball may seem like a simple game that any child can learn quickly. In fact, there are many different elements to a kickball game. Before being able to participate in a full-on kickball game, preschoolers should be introduced to the many gross motor skills needed to play effectively.
Kicking the Ball
The logical first step to learning to play kickball is learning to kick the ball. While this activity comes easy to older children, preschoolers often lack the coordination necessary to watch the ball and kick it effectively. This gross motor activity takes practice. Try using a beach ball or even a balloon when teaching your child to kick a ball. Since these balls are lighter and roll slower, your child will have a chance to line up his body, aim his foot and kick. Practice kicking a lighter ball back and forth between each other before introducing a playground ball or kickball. Give your child plenty of time to get used to his new kicking skills before introducing the faster, firmer ball.
Catching the Ball
For many preschoolers, catching may feel like an impossible activity. Coordinating his hands and feet, all while watching a big ball soaring toward him may be a bit overwhelming. Again, practicing with a light beach ball or balloon may help him gain confidence in his catching skills before participating in a kickball game. Practice throwing and catching a beach ball in several different ways before moving on to the bigger, heavier ball. For example, roll the ball and encourage your child to crouch and get it before it rolls to him, or throw the ball up in the air and teach him how to get underneath it to catch it.
Running The Bases
Many children will enjoy running around the bases so much, they may find it difficult to know when to stop. Explain that once your child kicks the ball in a kickball game, it is his turn to run the bases. Practice running with him, naming the bases as you run over them: "First! Second! Third! Home!" Allow your child plenty of practice running the bases before his first kickball game, being sure he knows the correct running sequence. Play a simple "Simon Says" type of game while he runs the bases. Have him stand at home plate as if he has just kicked the ball and give him a direction such as, "Run to second base and stop!" or "It's a home run! Run all the way around the bases!" Or, have him practice running the bases while you yell "Freeze!" each time he lands on a base and "Go!" to get him running again.
Putting It All Together
Now that your child knows all of the basic gross motor skills necessary for playing a game of kickball, it's time to practice putting it all together. Using the beach ball or balloon, play a mock game of kickball with your child. Roll the ball toward him as a pitcher would and encourage him to kick it as hard as he can and then run toward first base. Show him how to watch where the ball is going in order to decide whether to keep running past first base or stop there. Give your child plenty of chances to practice kicking before switching sides and allowing him to pitch and catch the ball. As he becomes comfortable with the beach ball or balloon, trade it in for a real kickball.
- "The Ultimate Playground and Recess Game Book"; Guy Bailey and Cynthia Wilson; 2000
- Photo Credit Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images
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