Catch and Beyond
a bright seven-year old had been diagnosed with a learning disability
by her school. Her disability not only affects her as a student,
but also on the playground, as students who have trouble with
reading and other academic subjects can also be clumsy.
Betsy’s mother looked into a variety of professional help and
chose me, an athletic tutor specializing in hand-eye coordination,
as one of her mentors. Working with Betsy was challenging. She
had trouble putting more than one movement together, catching
and throwing a ball was almost impossible for her. Through developing
her coordination, she would increase her confidence, thus making
more friends, all of it translating into a more well rounded child.
After two years of hard work, Betsy has in fact made great strides.
She plays goalie on a soccer team—recently her mother was raving
about what a great save she made in a game, how she has improved
her schoolwork, and how she has lots of play-dates.
So what did Betsy do to increase her skills? First and foremost
she did a lot of repetitions—or reps as it is known in the sports
world. In other words, practice, practice, practice. Keep on throwing,
catching and moving.
Using the right products is very important as well. A variety
of companies produce equipment that claim to improve hand-eye
coordination. The following are a small sample of the products
that I have found to be highly effective.
is the best of the many self-catching balls (attached to a string)
on the market. With its adjustable Velcro wristband, the ball
bounces back to the player and can be caught with either one hand
or both. This has been a terrific teaching tool for kids like
Betsy because they don’t have to worry about chasing the ball
all over the gym.
Yomega (www.yomega.com), best
known for its high-performance, centrifugal force yo-yo, has produced
an innovative new ball called the “Quickball.” Slightly smaller
than a Wiffle ball, this “new age” plastic ball is really a blast
to catch. The ball’s best feature is the way it jumps off the
bat. So, for someone like Betsy, just tapping the ball can seem
like a great hit. Yomega also has a great new adjustable paddleball
called the “Extreme 180” with a cord that can be adjusted based
on skill level.
Another neat and creative way to teach catching and tracking skills
is by using the Aeromax 2000 (www.aeromaxtoys.com).
This cool-looking, neon colored toy paratrooper attached to a
miniature parachute is not only fun to look at, but works as a
great skill-builder as well. Just throw it as high as you can
and catch it while it descends slowly.
Saturniani (Plymouth MI. 1-800-653-2719) makes a super line of
products to help kids improve at the introductory level. With
easy to grip, soft, multi-colored items such as a bowling set,
a flying disc and a variety of balls, Saturniani has equipment
that seems to invite kids to just “ jump right in.”
the company best known for it’s large size balls that stretch
the back, also has a line of smaller balls that have great tactile
feel for beginning catchers and throwers.
Still, the best may be the simplest; Spalding’s high-bounce rubber
ball is easy on the hands and tough on skill development.
Cohen runs his own sports tutoring business, specializing in children
with learning disabilities. He can be contacted through the newspaper.
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
(212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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the publisher. © 2001.