Beach Balls for Adapted Physical Education
Beach balls are excellent pieces of equipment to incorporate into adapted physical education (APE) classes and activities. Because of their light, multicolor and soft construction, beach balls are easy to catch and manipulate. These characteristics enhance the success rates of students during ball games. Beach balls are also affordable and fun to play with. Students that practice ball skills can improve overall strength and agility, as well as enhance hand-eye and foot-eye coordination and gross motor skills. The use of beach balls increases the area of contact and requires less finger strength for ball control. Larger balls enable the fingers to be extended, enabling the hand grasp reflex. A study in Italy reported that throwing, catching, passing and rolling a ball improves muscle response time in children with disabilities. Students also learn to track objects as they move and judge distances when they roll, throw, hit and kick balls of various sizes.
Beach balls can be used in a variety of fun games and do not cause the types of injuries that often occur with other types of balls. Students with disabilities want to be involved in fun and games like other children, so it is important to adapt games based on each individual child's fitness level and type of disability.
Infants and toddlers that engage in ball play develop grasping skills, eye-hand coordination, tracking, finger muscles and the ability to move objects from one hand to another. Cognitively, infants and toddlers learn about the properties of balls: they bounce, roll down hills, and are easy to move and difficult to keep still. As youngsters play with balls, they begin to get the feel of repetitive rhythms - bouncing, grasping, and squeezing. Ball play can also enhance social skills, as children participate in simple games - rolling, throwing, and kicking balls to one another.