Small Ball Catch: Stage 1 and 2 

This was the next progression in working with a ball to improve dexterity. I have been attempting to write these blogs in sequential order. They aren’t perfectly in lock step with our workout sessions. But, they follow the progress pretty well. The last work we did was with the tennis ball, while walking. Tossing the ball back and forth. Doing this, with the addition of walking down the floor of the yoga studio. It was challenging to add the movement to playing catch. The larger size of the sponge ball first, and the tennis ball second, helped the success of the exercise. Those walking activities were performed within the same distance. Remaining the same distance apart walking along the floor. As playing catch with the tennis ball was found to be successful. Bernard moved us forward to another activity. He brought back the smallest of the balls we had been using. This smallest of the balls had been worked prior by myself. The first to be used in tossing upward and catching as it fell. It has a soft, spongy surface, making it easier to catch. But, the ball will not bounce. Making it less likely to pop out of my hands during the catch. However, the smaller size makes it more challenging to catch. Also, causing added difficulty in tossing the ball back to Bernard. This exercise would present a good challenge. 

We began with the small ball, standing about ten feet apart. Bernard had us facing one another directly. At this point, I didn’t exactly know what was going to transpire. The ball in his hands was pretty small. Smaller than any ball I had ever used for playing catch. The ball his was showing had been used during individual toss. When I was attempting to toss it into the air. Catching this small ball on its return trip to the floor. Even that exercise had been challenging. Now, we were going to try playing catch with this ball in the yoga studio. My trepidation could be felt, as Bernard made the first toss. To my surprise, I made the catch with ease. My hands arrived at the correct point and folded around the small object. The ball was lobed back to Bernard along a gentle arch. We stood in those same positions. Tossing the ball back and forth ten times at about ten feet. There was a rhythm to playing catch at that distance. Causing a comfortable reaction to the ball traveling through the air. Bernard tossed them pretty gently. Causing the tosses to arrive at around the same location with each toss. With the ball traveling the short distance, it was relatively easy to maintain concentration on the ball, as it traveled into my hands. 

Following those first few tosses at the ten-foot distance. Bernard was pleased with the amount of catches being made. The short distance didn’t require much movement in the body to secure the catch. They were all being tossed in approximately the same area. Making for very little physical adjustments to receive the toss. The throwing motion required was much the same. The ball wouldn’t require much force to travel the ten-feet of space. Meaning it was more of a flick of the wrist. Allowing me to work on making the smooth wrist movement. Getting the small ball to travel a short distance. With my wrist control being a cerebral palsy challenge point. Engaging in these movement which concentrate on the motion are helpful. They teach me the feeling of gentle motion with the wrist. Helping me ingrain the smooth transitions. Rather than, the rigid spasms that can get me into trouble during physical activity. As the tossing and catching was working out well at our short distance. Bernard had me take two healthy steps backward. Increasing the distance between us by about five feet. From this distance, we began the process again. Tossing the small ball back and forth to one another. Some things in the movement would become more complex. The area of making the catch would become slightly wider. While, tossing the small ball back would require added velocity. 

The two steps were taken to add distance. Still feeling a little shaky about my ability to catch the toss. The distance remained short enough to have my tosses remain solid. I would need to add a little arm to my throwing motion. Gripping the small ball with two fingers would remain the same. It was the only way I knew to grip anything round. Utilize the first two fingers and thumb on my right hand to throw. The ring finger and pinky fingers almost felt unusable in the throwing motion. Those two fingers always felt incapable of being controlled enough to participate. Once we began playing catch at the longer distance. I found the throw to remain relatively simple. It was a throw I could still make from a flat-footed stance. The distance didn’t require upper-body rotation. But, more arm action would be needed to achieve the correct speed. So, even with the added distance, my toss required only slightly more motion. The catching of Bernard’s tosses was much the same. The added elements of challenge progressed comfortable. Catching required added concentration. Because, the small ball traveled for a longer distance. The dispersion on the throws was also slightly wider. Meaning the ball could require a catch in slightly different areas. Bringing in more of a fine and gross motor combination. Needing larger muscle to move more, with the greater dispersion of tosses. But, the fine motor skills were still challenged to make the catch. All working toward cerebral palsy improvement. 

The widening of the distance added challenge. Leaving me moving my hands a slightly larger distance. Covering the wider area of which the ball could land. Meaning the fine motor skills in my hands had an extra layer of timing to consider. As we concentrated longer with the ball traveling further. The added distance found me dropping just a toss or two. Different from the shorter distance, which we began the movement. This was another of Bernard’s exercises with built in room for progress. The first few throws didn’t have too much challenge. Lacking the requirement of calling on different muscles to help. We could stand in one place. Close enough to toss the ball to one spot consistently. Making the receiving and tossing at its simplest form. Moving back a couple steps, brought more variables to the movement. While, still keeping things pretty straight forward. The ball moved around a bit more, but really remained in the target zone between the shoulders. Demanding the hands move a slightly greater distance and concentration be held a little longer. It leads to a couple more misses, but nothing dramatic. Just pushing the exercise forward. There was more room to back up in the yoga studio. 

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