You might not think about hand eye coordination very often, but the truth is that we use it far more often than we realize. From catching a ball, to reading music while playing an instrument, to writing on a page – all of these tasks require varying levels of hand eye coordination. Improving this skill is not only helpful in every day life, but also in sports. For our kids, improving hand eye coordination has far reaching benefits, one of which is enjoying sports more.
What is Hand Eye Coordination?
Hand Eye Coordination is the process in which an individual’s visual system conveys information from the eyes to be used to direct the movement of hands. It is demonstrated in both small, fine motor ways such as tying a shoe, and also in gross motor, large movements like catching or bouncing a ball. Being able to accomplish both big and small motor skills is first learned and then improved through repetition and practice.
How it Benefits Our Kids
From the time an infant is 6 months old, they are encouraged to grasp and pass objects between their hands. As they continue to grow, their hand eye skill set becomes larger and more refined; grasping at pieces of cereal leads to grasping a crayon and maneuvering it draw a picture.
For older children, hand eye coordination becomes more prevalent in youth sports. Being able to bounce, kick, hit, or grab a ball or other equipment is essential. While improving hand eye coordination is likely to make them better at a sport, improving it can also make that sport more enjoyable too. When frustration and anxiety are reduced, kids have a chance to have more fun with the sport.
Exercises to Improve Hand Eye Coordination
Like with most things in life, practice makes perfect! Repetition of any skill will build confidence and perfect motor skills. Keeping a positive attitude, even when the exercise is challenging, is key.
Fill a balloon with air (not helium) and keep it in the air by bumping it, kicking it, tapping it, etc.
This silly game is actually a great way to practice and perfect hand eye coordination. Keep it fun and easy!
Catch (over and under throws)
Throw or roll a ball back and forth, varying the motion of the throw. Overhand, underhand, kicks or pushes, they all work to improve coordination.
Small Ball Dribble
Dribble a small ball, such as a tennis ball, with one hand. You can also alternate hands, or use the non dominate hand too.
This can be as simple as a line drawn on the ground, a short beam to walk on, or even a small wall for those that are up to the challenge!