Games and Recreation (Archive: Saturday)

Games and Recreation:

How To Control An Object



A few years ago, little boys were often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The answer usually was, “I don’t know,” or, “doctor,” “lawyer,” “fireman,” etc. Seldom did they say, “I want to be a professional athlete!” A great deal of the time, that was what they were thinking. However, no one asked little girls that question. It was understood that when little girls grew up, they would be responsible for rearing the children, and assuring that everything relating to keeping the home suitable for maintaining a family, would be successful.

In this, the twenty-first century, things have changed: many little girls have grown up to be doctors, lawyers, firemen, etc., and some of them have also become professional athletes. The point is, nature has provided little boys and little girls with different anatomical gifts; however, our society has discovered that, given the opportunity and equal preparation, little girls can do anything little boys can do in practically any activity selected.

Regardless of gender, one of the best things a little boy and girl can do is to engage in a competitive sport — any sport. The marvelous thing about competitive sports is, the activity itself causes the participant to engage both the mind and body. Every day proves that males and females can perform incredible acts of strength, agility, and mental acumen under all kinds of conditions.

Professionals perform at much higher levels than most of us, and the marvel of their action is what keeps us eager to see them perform. Many people wonder how they can perform at such high levels. The answer is training and preparation; in other words, practice, practice, practice!

However, we are not talking about professional athletes; as you know, we are talking about your little “Bundle of Joy.” You may say (or think) “He is just experiencing the joy of controlling his body, aren’t we a bit premature in talking about objects outside of himself?” I say, “Probably, but not necessarily!” All I say is, don’t assume he can/cannot perform physical acts involving the body; on the other hand, you have plenty time to be prepared when he is ready, but don’t push anything on him. Just allow his actions to guide you: keep in mind just because you were a good/great athlete means only that he will be inclined to be athletically talented — but not necessarily. I repeat: allow his actions to guide you.

On the other hand, maybe you are not athletically inclined, but guess what? That’s great — if you’re not athletically inclined, you are ahead of parents who are. You might say, “This guy must be some kind of nut, how can that be?” Well, you’re probably right about me being “some kind of nut,” (your words not mine), but, be that as it may, before you can teach your Little One, you’ve got to teach yourself.

Keep in mind, we’re not talking about anything intricate, nothing complicated; we’re just talking about elemental things that you already know how to do. Now, you’ll be looking at these elemental activities from a teaching standpoint, as well as a learning standpoint. Teaching, because that activity alone will cause you to interact and bond with your Little One. Learning, because his performance will allow you to determine if he is inclined to excel in activities that require greater expertise with the upper, lower, or neither part of his body. Keep in mind, that even if his athleticism appears to be negligible, his “Smile Index” (SI) will guide you to the stopping point..

You’ll probably want to improve your ability to do the things that you’ll be teaching your Little One, that’s normal. The thing you want to do, beyond anything else though, is make it fun. How does one do that? The method is a four-step technique and mindset: (1) Focus on one activity at a time (let your child’s “Smile Index (SI)” determine the end of the teaching session, (2) errors will be incountered every step of the way, either by teaching-technique or application; however, never be afraid to laugh at yourself and/or with others — sometimes you may look foolish, but be open about it, not too serious, (3) remember, practice erases errors, so, practice, practice, practice, but not to the point where it erases fun, (4) progress encourages celebration: your Little One will not master anything the first time around, but as soon as he shows progress, that’s when the hugs and kisses should be unleashed (don’t overdo it you clown — you called me a nut so I … Oh yeah, that was sort of a supposition on my part wasn’t it?), all I can say is, if the shoe fits, wear it.

Incidentally, once the practice has been completed for that session, it’s Miller time (no, no you idiot, it’s soda, ice cream, hot dog, etc.) time. Oh, sorry about that, I just get carried away sometime!

Now that we have forged ahead into the realm of your mindset, let’s move to the action part — Throwing, Catching, kicking, etc…(it’s about time… I know, I know, I’m an idiot!… Your words not mine).

 HOW TO THROW A BALL (any object)

To continue: Every athlete uses the entire body to perform at high levels, and practically all of them begin with the art of throwing and catching. With that in mind, the first thing we will do is teach the art of throwing a ball. The main reason is, your Little One doesn’t need anyone else to perform his magic, he can practice with you or all by himself, and enjoy it!

It probably seems obvious, but throwing a ball, requires him to first hold on to it. If the object is small enough to be held in the palm of the hand facing the ground, as in baseball or football, holding it can be done with one hand. We call this “the grip.”

The proper way to grip a ball is to place the forefinger and the middle finger on top of the ball: the thumb on one side, and the ring and little finger on the opposite side.

Once the grip has been fixed, the first thing you want to teach him is visualize a line that cuts the body at the waist into an upper and lower part. We call this the “H” (horizontal) line or the “belt line“. This line goes from left to right. Hence, there is an upper and lower. The head, arms, shoulders, and hands are part of the upper: the waist, legs, knees, and feet are part of the lower.

An example of the “belt line” at work is: while bending his knees, teach him try to touch his toes with his fingers. No need to strain: just instruct him to do it ten times within twenty seconds (easy, huh?).

Next, advise him to visualize a line that cuts the body into side-by-side halves. We call this the “V” (vertical) line or the “zipper line“: it goes up and down. His left shoulder, arm, elbow, hand, and hip along with the left leg, knee, and foot are part of the left half. The same parts of his body on the other side is called the right half.

An example of the “zipper line” at work is: advise him to stand facing you or any object (like a tree). While bending his knees, advise him to try to turn his left shoulder so that it follows his left wrist as he tries to touch his right knee. Do the same thing with his right shoulder (this time, touch his left knee). Again, no need to strain: do it ten times.

The goal is to work toward getting all body parts working together, smoothly as if they are one.

Before continuing: with the knees bent, practice the “belt line” at work, followed by the “zipper line” at work, with no break between the two. Advise him to complete this action a few fun-times without stopping.

The difference between throwing and slinging is that generally to throw an object, as in baseball and football, it must be released from above the shoulder. To sling an object, as in softball and bowling, it must be released from a position below the shoulder (generally below the waist)..

To throw with precision and accuracy, advise your Little One to stand facing you or the target he intends to hit. Advise him to Fix his eyes on the exact spot he wants to hit. That spot is called the target. Advise him to raise his hands in front of his body at waist high, bend the knees comfortably, and adjust the weight of his body to rest on the balls of both feet equally: his feet should be about shoulder width apart. This is called the starting position.

The following steps will apply for each and every throw and/or sling:

Step one: stand erect, with his feet about shoulder width apart, hold the object he intends to throw (ball, stick, rock) firmly in front of him, with both hands touching it.

Step two: Advise him to stare at his target.

Step three: to throw, use one hand to push the ball up and over his shoulder in which the ball is being held, (as in baseball and football).

To sling, push straight back at knee level or below, as in softball and bowling.

Remember to hold the object firmly, but do not squeeze.

Stop at this point: Practice over and over until this step is completed smoothly.

Step four: Advise him to step toward the target with the foot opposite the hand in which the ball is being held.

Step five: Advise him to move his shoulder, hand, and arm in which the ball is being held, in the opposite direction and as far away from the target as possible. At the same time, move the other shoulder in the direction of the target. Remember the “zipper line” at work.

Step six: bend the same knee in which the ball is being held, push the upper body toward the target.

Step seven: at the same time, fling the ball toward the target – important: the arm and hand will continue to move toward the target, that’s good, it promotes accuracy and precision – it’s called the follow-through, it should be emphasized with each throw.

Step eight: Bring the foot, leg, arm and hand that held the ball, alongside the other foot. He should now be in the starting position.

This completes the lesson on how to throw (or sling) a ball (any object).

 How to catch a ball (any object)

One of the most magical, simple, and fun games of all time is to play “catch”. Children of all ages can participate with friends, relatives, neighbors and parents. The game is almost guaranteed to provide a simple and sometimes electric means of bonding with your Little One.

Obviously, there are two phases to the game of “catch”: throwing and catching. We’ve already taken care of throwing: it’s a little simpler because your child can have complete control of when, where, and under what conditions he participates. In addition, for him, it can be completely safe.

To catch an object, conditions can be a little more hazardous. However, you can establish a safe way of preparing a totally controlled means of practicing “catch” as well. The way to do that is to find a suitable wall, accompanied by a flat ground or floor. Then your child can practice both throwing and catching under conditions that he can control.

In addition to the above, you can set your sites on the satisfaction of knowing that playing “catch” is one of the simplest and safest methods of eliminating the phrase, “I’m bored, there is nothing to do!” Simply stated, your child must know how to catch an object: that’s where you enter the picture. The following is your blueprint of teaching “how to play the game of ‘catch.’”

I’m aware you are raring to go, so let’s start!

Before we really get going (I know, I know, another interruption: I just want to insure we are at the proper starting point), let’s re-establish the understanding of the body’s integrated function during the act of throwing and/or catching.

Once the grip has been fixed, the first thing you teach him is to visualize a line that cuts the body at the waist into an upper and lower part. We call this the “H” (horizontal) line or the “belt line“. This line goes from left to right. Hence, there is an upper part and lower. The head, arms, shoulders, and hands comprise the upper: the waist, legs, knees, and feet comprise the lower.

Next, visualize a line that cuts the body into side by-side halves. We call this the “V” (vertical) line or the “zipper line“: it goes up and down. The left shoulder, arm, elbow, hand, and hip along with the left leg, knee, and foot comprise the left half. The same parts of the body on the other side comprises the right half.

The goal is to work toward getting all body parts working together, smoothly as if they are one. If he has not achieved that goal, work on it every day until he becomes proficient at it. Remember, he doesn’t have to be proficient, all you’re looking for is progress (just a tiny bit is adequate: keep in mind, the primary goal is to have fun. His “smile index” (SI) is the clue.

Before you get carried away with anticipation of having tons of fun with your child, plan to go slowly, be patient and make it little mini segments of fun-activity. The idea is to be careful with your Little One before it becomes a chore and before he gets injured: the reason is, he can easily be injured (injuries is one way the “silent spoiler” can delay your progress). Incidentally, injury is of minimal importance because recovering from injuries is part of progress: it is also part of strengthening your child’s inner resolve to be the best he can be. At any rate, in an effort to reduce the chances of injury, use three phases to teach catching.

Phase one: a ball rolling on the ground. Phase two: a ball above the head, commonly referred to as a fly ball. Phase three: an object headed straight toward your Little One: he has to either catch it or get out of the way (that’s why it could be a safety hazard).

Keys to success:

1)         As you release the ball in phase one, two, and three: use a slinging (underhand) motion.

2)         As soon as the ball leaves your hand, teach him to, as quickly as possible, place the “V-line” (“zipper”) directly in front of the ball.

3)         Teach him to always keep his eyes on the ball, and always attempt to use both hands (that tends to promote greater balance and quickness).

Before continuing: practice the “belt line”/ “zipper line” combo at work. Don’t complicate it, if you use the step by step approach, you and your child will appreciate the simplicity, ease, and effectiveness of it. Here’s the step by step:

Step #1: stand with feet shoulder width apart. Step #2: bend your knees, at the same time rest your hands on your knees (these two steps are very simple, but oh so important, we call this combo the “starting position,” it establishes balance and facilitates quickness). Step3: touch your right toe with your left mid finger, return to the starting position. Step #4: touch your left toe with your right mid finger, return to the starting position. Step #5: touch the ground three times with both mid fingers touching each other, return to starting position.

Do this a few fun-times without stopping.

Phase one: a rolling ball. Listen to the rustle of the leaves and rocks as the ball rolls over and around them. Teach him to:

1)     Have his feet spread about shoulder width apart.

2)     bend his knees and lower his shoulders (#1 and #2 is the starting position).

3)     position the weight of his body on the balls of both feet evenly.

4)     place both hands side-by-side with the palms facing the source (your hand)

5)     as the ball rolls toward him, make sure the fingertips of both hands touch the ground.

He probably won’t get it right (right away), but as he progresses, acknowledge it and praise him (you might have an urge, for sure you want to praise him, but don’t overdo it); On the other hand, when he executes it perfectly, that’s when you let it all hang out (watch him glow!).

At the end of the session, be sure to take a refreshing break: soda, ice cream, hot dog (whatever he has a hankering for).

Phase two: fly balls. This is when the ball is looped above his head. Teach him step one is always the starting position. In addition, the palms of his hands should always face the ball.

In all phases instruct him to place his hands directly in the path of the ball so as to stop its movement; in other words, prevent the ball from getting past him.

            Important: if the ball is below the waist, catch it with the fingers pointing toward the ground. If above the shoulders, the fingers should be pointing toward the sky.

After he has become proficient with phase one and two, it is time for you to begin teaching direct-line catches. Move closer to him (five yards or less). As he or she becomes more proficient, little by little (unless he asks, not during the same day), continue to increase the distance between the two of you. In other words, if it’s five yards today, and he has made no or negligible progress, make it five yards tomorrow; on the other hand, if he is improving rapidly, you might want to make it six to ten yards the following day. You be the judge, of course you are always in control; nevertheless, when it comes to any kind of game, never shy away from; in fact, promote his participation in decision-making.

As soon as the ball touches the hands, teach him to grab the ball and position the body into the starting position: immediately preparing to throw it back to the source (your hands).

Suggestion: unless he requests otherwise, during any one session, teach only phase one, phase two, or phase three. On the other hand, if he is rapidly proficient in one or more phases, there is no need for you to shy away from combinations. You are in complete control, which means it’s your decision.

One more thing, at the advanced stage, you might want to begin throwing the ball (as opposed to slinging it: you’ll know when to make the adjustment).

That completes the lesson on how to catch a ball: if you have already completed the lesson, “how to throw an object,” you are now ready to teach him the fun of playing “catch.” And you, our parenting hero, are ready to continue to observe your Little One develop into a tower of power. In addition, you now have an additional tool to assist you in the process of bonding with him/her.

Isn’t life a barrel of fun! All I can say is, make the most of it (life)!




8 thoughts on “Games and Recreation (Archive: Saturday)

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