A Kid's Guide to Sports: Catching a Ball
Anyone wishing to play ball will need some basic skills for throwing and catching. The skills needed will depend on the type of sport you wish to play. Catching a football is very different from catching a baseball or softball due to the sizes and shapes of the different balls. Playing baseball or softball usually involves wearing a glove on the non-dominant hand to help you catch better. However, catching skills begin even before you slip a glove onto your hand. Learn the basics of hand-eye coordination to improve catching skills in a variety of sports.
Catching a Football
When catching a football, it's important to keep your eyes on the ball to know how to grab the ball with your hands. The method used to catch the football depends on where the ball will land on your body. Common mistakes when catching a football include closing your eyes, moving the upper body back as the football approaches, and holding the elbows and arms too far apart to catch the ball. The player should move forward to anticipate the ball. The player should also position the elbows close to each other in front of the chest. With palms facing up, the player should catch the football and cradle it into the chest to keep it held securely with both hands. When catching a football off to the side, the player should use the same cradling method to grab and pull the ball in to the body. Cradling enables the catcher to have a clearer view of the ball to catch the ball successfully, instead of possibly placing the arms in the way of the line of vision, which could make it hard to see the ball coming. Practicing these skills will improve catching abilities.
Catching a Baseball
Kids often feel fear about catching a baseball. Catching a ball in front of the body will help a child learn how to avoid injury. After catching the ball, the child should pull it in close to the body to prepare to throw it. Learning how to catch a baseball begins before players use gloves. Beginning catching lessons require the use of plastic golf balls and then tennis balls to keep you from getting hurt and make you less afraid of what's coming toward you. The main catching hand should be the non-dominant hand, which frees the dominant hand to throw the ball after catching it. Stand holding the catching hand with the palm facing outward and the arm about half an arm's width away from the body. Keep the hand higher than the elbow and the elbow bent at approximately 45 degrees. Place the feet about shoulder width apart and keep your knees relaxed to prepare to catch the ball. To begin building skills, have someone stand about 8 to 10 feet away for throwing. This person should begin lobbing the plastic golf balls toward the catcher. The catcher should focus on smacking the golf balls away with the outstretched hand to build hand-eye coordination. After the catcher builds enough skill to be hitting the golf balls consistently, the thrower should begin varying the throws to force the catcher to move the hand up, down, right, or left to hit the golf balls. After mastering these throw variations, the catcher should actually begin catching the golf balls as they are thrown. Throwing the golf balls back is not necessary at this point. Advance to tennis balls after the catcher shows that they can catch the golf balls.
After a catcher shows comfort and skill catching the tennis balls with a bare hand, it's time to move on to catching a baseball with a glove. Use a glove that fits your hand well. An oversized glove may make you dependent on the glove for catching instead of developing solid catching skills. When catching a ground ball, the catcher should place the glove on the ground with the other hand ready to place over the ball in the glove so it doesn't fall out. The catcher will then also be ready to grab the ball with this hand to throw it to another player. Catching with a glove requires practice, but most kids will advance to this level if they keep practicing.
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