How to encourage balance
Start by asking your child if they can stand on one leg, if they have trouble, help them by holding their hand and suggesting they focus on a single point. Once they can balance for short periods, make a game of it and use a timer to see if they can stand on one leg for the length of the timer. Are they better on the left leg or the right leg?
Once they have mastered balancing on one leg, increase the challenge by asking if they can close their eyes or wave their hands above their head. Look around the house for interesting things they can balance on. Do you have a length of wood they can use as a balance beam? Do you have any unstable bases they could use to safely practice their balance such as a trampoline or a Bosu ball?
How to encourage crossing the midline.
Get your kids to help them wash the car and ask them to stand in one spot. If they are right handed, how do they wash the car to left of them? Do they swap the sponge into their left hand to reach the other side? Do they twist their trunk in order to reach? Ask them to use just their dominate hand so they have to reach across their body in order to wash the car. Clapping games such as “Miss Mary Mack” are also a fantastic way to engage your child and encourage them to reach across their body.
For younger children, driving a toy car is will help them to develop “crossing the midline” skills. Set up an obstacle course and tell them to keep both hands on the steering wheel as they navigate the course.
How to encourage running in all directions
Try a family game of tips to encourage kids to use different movement skills such as weight transfer and changing directions. Kids also love dodging balls, so get them to stand in a circle while you roll a ball towards them and see if they can get out of the way without being hit by the ball.
Ask them to focus on one point such as a tree and run to a different point, such as yourself without taking their eyes of the tree. Try moving around to see if they can ‘catch you’ while still their body continues to face the tree. Practice multi-directional running by calling out instructions for your child to follow “forwards, backwards, right, left, etc”.
Give your child the chance to use their skills
Tennis is a sport that requires competency in all of the above areas, and is a great sport for developing core skills that set up an athletic base for life. Here at the Parkside Tennis Academy we offer fundamental perceptual motor skills programs suited to 3 to 5 year olds and Junior tennis programs from 5 years that starts to add in a technical tennis elements.