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Ages & Stages

Hand-Eye Coordination in School Age Children

The ankle bone may be connected to the knee bone, and the knee bone connected to the hip bone, but the eyeball is not yet completely wired to the brain. By this 6- to 9-year-old age group, the eye has usually achieved its normal round shape and the muscles of the eye can now help track and follow moving objects much better. However, when the signals from the eye get to Grand Central Station in the brain, all the different parts of movement are still difficult to interpret.

What this means is that youngsters may be able to judge how fast a ball is moving, but not be able to judge its direction very well, so they will be better with catching, hitting, passing, or kicking a ball that is thrown, hit, passed, or kicked directly to them. Having to figure out where the ball is going and how fast to move to get there is often still difficult.

Other sports that don’t typically involve flying objects or hand-eye coordination will also show more improvement because of their various and different requirements. For instance, judging walls for flip turns in swimming becomes more easily accomplished because velocity of an approaching wall that is dead center will be easier to process.

Now don’t go crazy trying to figure out ways to do eyeball exercises to speed up the process—it won’t work. There are no eyeball workout videos. Even the Shopping Channel and eBay won’t have them. The maturation of visual skills is a natural developmental process that has to happen over time. Remember what your mother always taught you—a watched pot never boils.

Have the patience to allow your child maximal development of sports skills with minimal pressure.

Paul R. Stricker, MD, FAAP
Last Updated
Sports Success Rx! Your Child's Prescription for the Best Experience (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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