Your little ones gain a lot from being active in different types of sports.
Their self-esteem improves, critical thinking skills flourish, and their overall physical development is at its peak.
But there’s a lot of sports out there, and every child is different.
That’s why we’ve developed this list: to outline and explain the most beneficial sports for your toddlers to get into, and address the primary benefit of increased hand-eye coordination.
What is Hand Eye Coordination?
Hand eye coordination defines any one person’s ability to control their hands in accordance with what they’re seeing.
You don’t look at your hands, but rather, you use the images that your eyes are sending to your brain, and move your hands in accordance with where things are in those images.
Your brain also controls your hands, so even if the images you are seeing don’t contain them, your brain pieces together where your hands are in accordance with what you are seeing.
This entire process happens in split seconds. It is your reaction speed. It’s not just important for sports, but all aspects of life, and can affect writing, driving, and seemingly mundane tasks as well.
How to Improve Your Child’s Hand Eye Coordination?
The number one way is through sports. While there’s an argument that video games help with hand eye coordination, that only focuses on one type.
You have gross motor skills, and fine motor skills. Physical activity focuses on both, which impacts your overall ability to act quickly in a situation.
Fast-paced sports require the most hand eye coordination. Without further ado, let’s get into the list of the best sports for toddlers that help improve these skills.
7 Eye Hand Coordination Activities in the Toddlers
Here are some of the best sports for hand eye coordination in toddlers:
Soccer requires hand eye coordination even though your children will be using their feet most of the time.
They have to quickly calculate speed, distance, and how long it will take for their legs to move to actually kick the ball.
While it sounds like a lot, these are processes that your children are already developing and testing in seemingly insignificant ways. They can even be testing hand eye coordination while playing with Matchbox cars or running around.
At this stage, soccer should not be treated as competitive in nature. Just let them kick the ball around with the loose idea that they have to get it in the goal.
Block a shot or two so they have to ask themselves, “What do I have to do to actually get the ball past them?” Problem solving at its finest.
Even a doggie paddle stroke requires you to plan out how you’re going to splash, and how you’re going to get from one spot to another.
This teaches gross motor skill, where your muscles and body react to different things that are happening to you.
Because swimming is virtually a zero impact, full body workout, it’s teaching them how to control all of their muscles instead of a few targeted groups.
It’s considered a full aerobic exercise, which helps keep your child fit and healthy in all areas of their body.
Because swimming engages all muscle groups, it’s one of the best exercises to help your child through growth spurts as well.
Tennis, much like baseball, is almost exclusively a hand eye coordination sport. Gauging the ball speed, travel distance, and when you have to swing will all help build stronger hand eye coordination capabilities.
For toddlers, you can simply serve to them like you would with baseball. They don’t have to run around if you want them to just focus on hand eye coordination.
When they begin running around, that’s making the object of hitting the ball or birdie much more difficult. They also have to coordinate how they’re going to move around, and it draws focus away.
Have them toss the tennis ball at a wall and hit it with their kids tennis racket when it comes bouncing back. It’s tons of fun, makes them giggle, and sharpens those motor skills all at the same time.
When the ball comes at them, they have to get used to the weight of the bat, the length of time it takes to swing, and the speed of the ball.
There’s a reason that parents get their kids started in Little League from an early age.
There are so many working parts to this. While you shouldn’t encourage competitive baseball at this fragile age, you can still incorporate running the bases at the same time.
This forces them to switch gears from using their upper body to their lower body. Plus, how fun is it going to be when you chase them around with the ball, and they giggle and just make it back to home base? It’ll be a favorite for the two of you.
Planning your steps, preventing injuries from falling, and working the motion of your arms for balance. There’s more that goes into running than people think.
From the moment your child learns to walk, they’re figuring out how to increase their motor skills enough to take calculated steps. They’re trying to make that leap from hobbling to actual walking (and eventually, leaping off the couch cushions).
Running helps them control their movements throughout other sports as well. It helps them plan out how to round the bases in baseball, how wide to make their steps for volleyball, and so on.
Balance is perhaps the biggest benefit, which they will rapidly learn from running.
Whether it’s on sand or a court, volleyball is a ton of fun, and great for hand eye coordination (anything with a ball, really).
Your child has to look to where the ball is headed, and figure out how to get there quickly, position their hands appropriately, and hit it back without letting it hit the court.
That may sound like a lot, but it won’t be long before you see these processes blending together. Instead of just running up to the spot and stopping short, they’ll combine all of these separate skills together.
That’s the best way to measure their developmental success by the way. Watch how they turn these different process—ones that they may have struggled with in the past—and make them work in tandem.
Running, keeping your eye on the ball, and positioning your arms to catch it—that takes a lot.
Developmentally, football is a fascinating and engaging sport. It’s also one that your toddlers are bound to have a lot of fun with.
It’s all about the exercise—they can learn the complex rules of football later on in their 5-7 years, but for now, just focus on the fun.
Teach them to toss the ball to you if someone is getting close to them. They might get giddy and giggly and forget, but that’s what makes it so much fun for everyone involved.
One important thing here is to teach them how to hold the ball properly so they can actually make passes.
Including the Right Hand Eye Coordination Activities for Your Children
Developing hand eye coordination is important, and getting your child placed in a sport that they enjoy (while also building this life skill) doesn’t have to be hard.
It’s a core part of their childhood and early development years, so be sure to gauge their reactions when they try a new sport. It’s not important that they stick to a single sport forever; it’s important that they find one that they enjoy playing.