Do you know what parts of the brain are activated when a child learns ball handling skills? You might be surprised to find out that catching a ball requires all the lobes of the brain to work together! When you see a child reach their arms out to catch a ball various steps have already occurred throughout each lobe of the brain. Let’s take a closer look at brain activation and ball skills.
Step 1: See the details. The occipital lobe is activated to analyze the details such as clarity, contrast and color.
Step 2: Identify it. The temporal lobe is activity to recognize the ball’s identity.
Step 3: Distinguish it from surrounding objects. The ball’s initial location and form are mapped out in the parietal lobe.
Step 4: Predict the direction of the ball. The middle temporal and posterior parietal lobes are active and predict the ball’s vector.
Step 5: Determine where to catch the ball. The frontal lobe and the parietal lobe play a role in predicting the location of the ball by relying on prior experiential learning including oculomotor, motor, perceptual and spatial experiences.
Step 6: Start to move to the ball. The moment to moment 3D coordinated of the shape and location of the ball reach the motor cortex in the frontal lobe.
Step 7: Catch, kick or dribble the ball. The motor cortex in the frontal lobe works with the timing system in the cerebellum, the overall balance system and the reflex motor support systems in the brain stem and the thalamus to finalize the action. If you are dribbling the ball start the entire process over again with each dribble!
It is amazing how complex the brain activation is for a simple eye hand coordination skill like catching a ball. Imagine the activation during a volleyball game, tennis match or soccer game!
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Reference: Reference: Chokron, S., & Dutton, G. N. (2016). Impact of Cerebral Visual Impairments on Motor Skills: Implications for Developmental Coordination Disorders. Frontiers in psychology, 7.