How do you work on kicking the ball with your little one? Well just like with throwing and catching, it’s often just about turn taking early on. Or, having a ball on the ground that they just walk into and it moves so you cheer them on as if they just scored the winning goal in a soccer tournament! Either way, it’s letting them have exposure and interaction with the ball. It’s also about modeling and imitation!
So what can you do? Find a soccer ball or playground ball, or even a balloon (although this won’t roll but it may go up in the air) and have it on the ground in front of them. Ideally they are standing independently at this point but you can also do it when they are standing and holding on at a support surface. Ask them to kick it to you. I always like to see what happens first. It could be nothing, it could be they pick it up, it could be they sit down, or they could attempt to kick it!
Next step is modeling kicking. You kick the ball, put a word to it, and then set it up for them and let them know it’s their turn! You can also manually take them through it. So, while they are standing help them swing their foot to connect with the ball. If they are already walking, you can just put it in their path and let them walk into it and cheer their great ‘kick’.
As their balance and weight shifting improves (you will notice it as their walking looks less like a zombie and more like a toddler) you will see a more purposeful kick where they stand on one foot and swing their leg.
One thing to be aware of early on is that if you are using a little ball they may overshoot the kick and place their foot on top of the ball and lose their balance. Using a larger but light ball can help to prevent this!
Stay tuned for more ideas on how to progress kicking!