How to teach toddler to kick a ball? while Developing Gross Motor Skills

Kicking a ball is a motor gross activity that you can practice outside with your toddler. In not only fun but it is important for their development.

A toddler typically can lift their foot and have contact with a ball at about 15-16 months. Kicking a ball usually comes after a child has been walking for a few months. By 20 months, a toddler can kick a ball forward the ball and as coordination progresses it can kick and follow the ball in its direction.

Don’t worry if your toddler is older than 15 months and still doesn’t kick a ball. – mine rather play basketball than kick a ball. So we are still working on this skill and he is 16 months.

teach toddler to kick a ball with this easy 1, 2, 3 steps

Why teach toddler to kick a ball?

There are two main learning skills when you teach toddler to kick a ball: motor planing and coordination.

Motor planning

How the brain helps the body prepare to kick a ball


Making sure one leg stays on the floor while the other moves to kick the ball and actually make contact with the ball. oh! and all of this while you stay standing the whole time!

Even if your toddler has just recently started walking you can still practice this concept and teach him/her the basics.

How to teach toddler to kick a ball

There are three steps to teaching a toddler how to kick a ball.

Activity #1: Start by lifting your toddler and swinging to show the concept of kicking the ball

This step is super fun! you can even do it with babies. Make it fun, celebrate it and they will love it.

Swinging back and forth to reach the ball as you teach your toddler to kick a ball

teach a toddler to kick a ball

By lifting your toddler up you are helping him use his feet and avoid him trying to pick up the ball

Celebrate when his feet touch the ball and “kicks it”

teach toddler to kick a ball

Activity #2: Hold your toddler’s hands and walk them through to kick as they put one foot in front of the other

When your child gets used to activity #1 then you can move onto activity #2 which you let him walk up to the ball and get as close as possible all by himself. Again, holding his hands to avoid him reaching it with his hands.

Activity #3: Encourage them to try kicking the ball without you there to assist

After a few tries, encourage your toddler to chase the ball and try to guide it by kicking it.

Here are some methods you can also try to encourage children to kick a ball:

Natali from Beyond Basic Play suggests to try the following:

  • Kicking a ball downhill so it’s more exciting to them to watch the ball move more quickly than they expected.
  • Having them hold an object in their hands to distract them from using their hands to kick a ball, such as a sippy cup or favorite toy
  • Kicking a ball at a target like a creative goal or kicking a 
  • ball to knock over blocks.
  • Kicking a stack of blocks over rather than kicking a ball.  I sometimes use toy bowling pins to either kick a ball into the pins or to try to kick all the pins over.
  • Kicking balls that have lights or sounds after being kicked

Play doesn’t have to be complicated. Will you try this game with your toddler this week?