Developmental Ball : An Innovative Approach to Teaching Kicking, Soccer Style Dribbling, Tossing and Catching SkillsSubmitted by IFAPA on Thu, 06/14/2012 - 06:34
“There is an intricate relationship between the acquisition of motor milestones
and the emergence of play......when motor milestones are delayed, the
development of fine motor skills, language and play are also delayed.” (Brigance,
As an Adapted Physical Education Specialist for over 25 years, I have observed students with
disabilities, sensory integration disorders, and developmental delays struggle
with ball skills. A critical need to create a ball affording students opportunities to work independently (not
relying on peers, teaching assistants, or teachers) was long overdue.
Soccer trainers, cloth balls,
balloon balls, and peer mentors are some adaptations used for incorporating
ball skills (perceptual and sensory motor stimulation) for students with
disabilities. All of the aforementioned adaptations do not support independent
skill acquisition as they involve support staff and or peers. Staff or peers
are needed for support as the balls speed of movement is too fast for tracking
and focusing on task (Downs, 2007).
with disabilities often feel restricted or isolated during gym activities. Modified
equipment and the inability to perform skills are two reasons students with
disabilities feel isolated during gym activities (Spencer-Cavalier &
Evolution of Developmental
dead end with options in catalogs for any ball that would meet the criteria of
fostering independent ball skills, it was time to become creative.The idea of slowing an inflatable ball
which would enable students with disabilities, coordination issues and those on
the autism spectrum to easily track was the criteria. Inserting 3, 5, 6, 8 and
10 ounces of sand into inflatable 8 inch balls, then inflating the balls created
a unique feature which allowed the balls to move slower and remain in play.
with various weights over a two month time period, three weights proved to be
successful. Repeated trials with the 6, 8, and 10 ounce balls demonstrated these
were the correct weights.
- 6 ounces for pre-K through 2nd grades
- 8 ounces for 3rd through 6th
- 10 ounces for 7th through 12th
grades including students on the autism spectrum
- Regular soccer balls with 10 ounces of sand for 7th
through 12th grades gives an appearance of the same ball in
general physical education
Ball began in rural Hope, Alaska in the fall of 2009. Over 100 Developmental Balls were created in
my husband’s workshop. Developmental
Ball became a huge success in the K-12 physical education programs in the
Anchorage School District in Anchorage, Alaska.
Special Needs School, Saitama Japan
September 10th, 2010, I demonstrated Developmental Ball to the
Omiyakita Special Needs School in Saitama, Japan. A regular soccer ball with 10
ounces of sand was used by the middle school students at Omiyakita Special
Needs School. Developmental Ball was a huge success, with staff and parents
requesting more of the balls. Mari Kido, Curriculum Coordinator, Omiyakita
Special Needs School quoted: “Our
teachers of junior high school tried to use the ball with students today, seven
students who have serious mental disabilities could catch and throw the ball,
two students with autism could play catch and enjoyed this so much. Their homeroom teachers were pleased. I saw the Developmental Ball used very
successfully by students in physical education today, they played a soccer
game. The ball clings to their feet, so
good for them.
from Omiyakita Special Needs School
working with Developmental Ball during soccer unit.
features of Developmental Ball
Unique strategy for teaching soccer style dribbling, kicking, tossing and
- Remains in play
- Proprioceptive feedback is positive as
opportunities for repetitive trials are allowed
- Slower moving balls are easier to track
- No more chasing balls across the gym floor and
- Fosters independent skill development on an
- Excellent for students with sensory integration
issues, students on the autism spectrum
- Balls are not flying across the gym floor
creating an overstimulating environment
- Benefits students with coordination issues unable
to keep up with their peers
wonderful to observe students with disabilities, coordination issues, developmental
delays, and those with sensory impairment work alongside their peers, not
having to chase balls across the gym floor.
has come that we now have a developmentally appropriate ball for children of
all ages and abilities. Developmental
Ball will make many sports more accessible for a variety of children.” (L
Lieberman, personal communication, March 8, 2011).
Ball addresses both NASPE and APENS standards. NASPE standards addressed are (1) demonstrates competency in motor
skills and movement patterns needed to perform a variety of physical
activities, and (2) demonstrates understanding of movement concepts,
principles, strategies, and tactics as they apply to learning and performance
of physical activities (www.naspe.org). APENS
standards addressed are (6) unique attributes of learners and (9) instructional
design and planning. By using the ball
and providing a developmentally appropriate instructional strategy Adapted
Physical Education teacher apply their knowledge of unique attributes of
learners, thereby demonstrating competency of these standards (www.apens.org).
Sportime Equipment markets the
multi-colored ball, go to: http://store.schoolspecialty.com/OA_HTML/xxssi_ibeSearchResults.jsp?type=search&minisite=10028&query=developmental+bal
- Brigance, A.H. (1991) Brigance
diagnostic inventory of early development (Rev. ed.). North Billerica, MA:Curriculum Associates.
- Downs, C. (2007). The little league challenger division ensures
children with disabilities have opportunities to play ball. PALAESTRA, 20-22.
- Lieberman, Lauren, Ph.D
(personal communication, March 8, 2011).
- Spencer-Cavaliere, N., &
Watkinson, J.E. (2010). Inclusion
Understood from the perspectives of children with disability. Adapted
Physical Activity Quarterly Vol. 27, No 4, 275-291.
A news item about the Disabled Surfers Association of Australia and quadriplegic surfer Kelly McCann.
A side view of the technique of one of the best athletes in this discipline ever.