Connect With The Ball - download a printable sheet of ball and balance exercises for 3-7 year olds
Children need to practice moving every day. These pages give ideas for activities
that parents can do with their children in their own home.
For Parents page
Optimising Early Brain and Motor Development through movement
Judy Murray's Set4Sport programme
Making Physical Activity part of a child's life
Factsheets: UK Physical Activity guidelines
Change4Life's weekly kids activity planner
A discussion on the importance of FMS compared to Game Skills
For older children, those aged approximately 14 years or above, FIFA 11+ offers a football-specific injury prevention programme
Ministry of Football cannot be held liable for any injury or accident resulting from use of any of the activities in these pages; activities are undertaken at users own risk
This page explores how parents and families might help infant school children develop good movement skills through play at home. We are particularly focusing on the age group 5 to 7 years of age, although this age banding is not rigid as children develop at different rates.
Key skills: Agility, Balance and Co-ordination
For those aged 5-18: "At least 60 minutes (1 hour) of physical activity every day, which should range between moderate-intensity activity, such as cycling and playground activities and vigorous-intensity activity such as fast running and tennis." - NHS Guidelines
There will still be exercises from the 3-5 age-group page which your children will enjoy and learn from, so continue to use these exercises and activities also.
Activity 1: Hopscotch (Balance and Co-ordination)
Hopscotch is a simple jumping and hopping game that can be played almost anywhere. The simple rules of Hopscotch are shown in the video here, along with other chalk games you can play on a piece of concrete.
Progress: There are also rules of Hopscotch which involve throwing and this adds an extra movement skill. The rules for this version are available by clicking here.
Activity 2: Skipping (Co-ordination)
Skipping is an excellent activity for this age-group, and should be encouraged in both boys and girls. An easy version of skipping is for two adults or older children to hold the rope at each end and move it for the 'jumper' to jump over.
Progress: Try to help the child learn to skip for themselves. The video here shows how to do it.
Activity 3: Throwing and catching (Co-ordination)
Throwing and catching skills are core to many games and sports. It takes many practice hours to get good at throwing and catching. To help get started, it may be a good idea to use a balloon or beanbag rather than a ball as these are easier to catch.
Learning to catch can be frustrating, but using a wall like in the video here makes things a lot more fun!
Progress: Try one-handed catches, throwing at a target, jumping to catch something high up.
Activity 4: Skittles (Co-ordination)
Sending and receiving skills can be developed to include throwing or rolling a ball at a target.
Progress: Try overarm and underarm throws and bowls; try throwing with left and right hands. Progress further to use a kick instead of a throw.
Activity 5: Dribbling a ball (Co-ordination and balance)
Usually when parents play football with their child, they spend time kicking the ball between them. It is better at this age for the child to spend time with a ball learning how to move and control it. The video here gives some examples of moves to practice.
It is important to remember that the balance and co-ordination skills being learned and practised are just as important as the actual control of the ball.
Tip: Use a size 2 or 3 football for this age-group, not a full-sized adult one.
Activity 6: Jumping for distance (Strength and Balance)
For example, jumping over something, onto something, jumping from one foot to the other. The video shows a fun game to play to get children of this age enjoying their practice.
Progress: Jump sideways, hop. Try to land and remain balanced for 5 seconds each time.
Activity 7: Rolls and cartwheels (Agility, Strength and Co-ordination)
Gymnastics moves can be lots of fun to learn. Here are some videos which give ideas of moves to practice for this age-group. Children may need to be supervised for these types of movements.
Activity 8: Play "Freeze!" (Balance)
This is a simple game where a caller shouts Freeze! in the middle of an activity, and the child needs to freeze in exactly whatever position they were in. The activity could involve running, jumping or crawling etc, anything that practices some of the fundamental movements.
Progress: Once the child is 'frozen', try giving them a gentle push in different places to see how strong they are once they are balanced.
Activity 9: Space Hopper bouncing (Balance)
Space Hoppers can be lots of fun!
Of course, you'll need space in your house to make this work - but if you have the room then these can help your child improve their balance.
Activity 10: Bat and ball games (Co-ordination)
A good bat and ball game for this age is swingball (see picture).
Swingball is good because the ball moves in a repeated and predictable way, and it's easier therefore for the child to experience success. If you have more than one child, swingball can be a good way to get them learning and practising through play.
Progress: Underarm throw a bouncing ball to your child and see if they can hit it back to you with a tennis bat. This can later develop into mini tennis rallies.
Tip: Tennis bats for this age-group need to be appropriately sized. Children will not learn well with a bat that is too heavy for them to easily swing.
Activity 11: Rolling and stopping a ball (Co-ordination)
Rolling a ball backward and forward between you is a good way to begin practising sending and receiving skills. Children love playing with balls, so it is a good idea to have balls of lots of different shapes and sizes to play with. You can start this activity sitting on the floor and pushing the ball, and progress to rolling with one or both hands from a standing position.
Progress: Try stopping the moving ball under the sole of the foot.
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