The Body and the Brain – Learning to Catch

The Body and the Brain – Learning to Catch


At our staff training entitled “I AM MOVING, I AM LEARNING” we learned that early childhood is the time to build and pave the highways for communication between body and brain.  An interesting example is how a child’s ability to catch has its own progression.  Efficient catching requires visual tracking and timing.  When a young child first tries to catch, his/her field of vision is very small.  He/she will be unable to skillfully catch a ball out of the air. In playing catch with a young child, it is best to use a big ball (3” to 6” in diameter), make sure the child is visually attending and toss the ball between the waist and chest.  Here are stages a child goes through when learning to catch:


1.      Emerging Catch – The child scoops the ball with his/her arms
2.      Transitional Catch – The child uses his/her hands to scoop the ball to the body
3.      Efficient Catch – The child uses his/her hands to catch the ball out of the air

It is not until a child reaches 8 to 12 years of age that the myelin sheath of the brain is completely formed, allowing the ocular muscles to develop and vertically track.  So, up until that brain growth has occurred, a child will be unable to efficiently catch.  It is important to understand that as much as a child (or his/her parents) might want to master certain skills, sometimes the brain has to develop further before those skills can be perfected.