Teaching Throwing and Catching to Children with DCD

Teaching Throwing and Catching to Children with DCDTeaching Throwing and Catching to Children with DCD

Research indicates that children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) exhibit significant impairments in general visual motor control and the processing of visual information.  For example, children with DCD have difficulties with: the ability to use predictive information to guide action, the pursuit tracking of objects and the ability to maintain fixation on visual targets. These impairments can affect the child’s motor skill abilities when participation in ball sports and playground games.

Quiet eye training (QET) has been used in the past to help children improve their throwing and catching skills.  Recent research investigated whether teaching throwing and catching to a group of children with DCD using a gaze training intervention (i.e., QET) could improve their skills and help decrease the negative psychosocial impact of motor skill deficits.  The participants included 21 children with DCD who were split into either QET or technical training (TT) groups. Both groups participated in the same activities with video instruction to start.  The QET received additional training on focusing on the target before throwing.  Both groups received 4 weeks of group therapy.  Assessments were completed before and after training and at a 6 week follow up.

Over four-week sessions for the QET group, the children were given instructions each week:

  1.  Week one: Focus your eyes on the target and count to two before you start your smooth throwing action.
  2. Week two:  Keep your eyes on the ball until it comes back into your cupped hands.
  3. Week three:  Questioning on previous instructions and combining instruction points together.
  4. Week four:  Questioning and review.

The results indicated the following:

  • children improved their gaze control and catching coordination following QET, compared to TT.
  • a longer QE aiming duration (QE1) predicted an earlier onset of tracking the ball prior to catching (QE2) which predicted catching success.
  • parents reported improved perceptions of their child’s catching ability and general coordination in the QET group compared to the TT group.
  • all parents reported improvements in their child’s confidence, social skills and predilection for physical activity following the trial.

The researchers concluded that quiet eye training may help to address deficits in the motor and psychosocial skills of children with DCD.

Read more about quiet eye training.

Reference: Wood G, Miles CAL, Coyles G, Alizadehkhaiyat O, Vine SJ, Vickers JN, et al. (2017) A randomized controlled trial of a group-based gaze training intervention for children with Developmental Coordination Disorder. PLoS ONE12(2): e0171782. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0171782

Teaching Catching, Throwing and Kicking Skills