Blog 1:  Why all children should be able to throw and catch by 5 years old.

Nowadays, teaching your children to swim and ride a bike are seen as essential skills to learn at an early age – people are almost shocked if you can’t do these skills by 6 or 7. Swimming usually starts from around 6 months old and riding a bike can start from around 2, when children can use balance bikes, stabilisers etc. So my question is, why on earth is throwing and catching not in this category?!

I spend a lot of time in schools and still come across so many children who cannot throw and catch – even going as high as years 3 and 4. The excuse seems to be ‘well bless little Johnny he has got his terrible coordination skills from me!’. I understand that some children are better at picking up certain skills than others, but isn’t this the same for riding a bike and learning to swim?! People seem to think when it comes to throwing and catching (and sport in general) Children either have ‘it’ or they don’t. I have taught the most uncoordinated children, who can’t even catch a rolling ball. However, with a bit of encouragement, instruction (eyes on the ball, head up and scoop the ball) and practice these children will have no problems catching a ball within a couple of sessions. Like everything in life, a bit of instruction and practice goes a long way!

To me, being able to throw and catch at an early age is an essential skill which should be placed in the category of swimming and riding a bike. I would say most of the children I come across who cannot throw and catch say they find sport ‘boring’ or ‘don’t want to take part’ and therefore don’t try to get better. It’s almost like we have put our societal view that throwing, catching and playing sport is innate and you can’t do anything to change that. It is a vicious cycle because if a child has never been taught, then they try to do it and is unsuccessful they are not going to enjoy it. If they don’t enjoy it, then they are not going to repeat it, and if they don’t repeat it they won’t get better! So the cycle repeats!

We are currently experiencing an obesity epidemic affecting both adults and children. Very little is being done to help tackle the issues of obesity and, nowadays, technology is making it difficult to encourage people to stay physically active. I believe that teaching children to throw and catch BEFORE school can have a huge impact on their enjoyment of sport and physical activity. Whether this is practicing at home, in a sports class, at nursery or all of the above – I think it is a must!

Think of the impact this could have on our children if every child goes to school being able to throw and catch. Sports skills could be taught at an earlier age and therefore a positive relationship with sport and physical activity can be developed sooner. This would then lead to lifelong participation in physical activity as well as improved health/wellbeing. I also think more needs to be done in primary schools. Physical Activity can be seen as secondary to other subjects and many teachers I come across don’t feel comfortable delivering PE to young children.

Clearly, we are not doing enough to help tackle levels of obesity in children as it has continued to increase year on year. If we can help change societal views that throwing and catching is not ‘just for coordinated children’ and can be taught at an early age, this may go some way to help increase levels of physical activity and counter high levels of obesity.