The Benefits of Playing Catch

By now, everyone in Kansas City should have a case of Royals fever—the home team is ready to win this year. While we all love watching the pros, playing catch is great exercise with a low startup cost for kids and adults alike.

Darwin Pennye, the executive director of the Kansas City Urban Youth Academy, couldn’t agree more. “As we see it, playing catch is a way to get outside and be active with multiple muscle groups engaged,” Pennye says. “Playing catch not only gets your hand/eye coordination moving, but your arm, shoulders, elbows, hands, and fingers are working, which all keep the blood flowing. Playing a simple game of catch will engage muscles that you might not engage in some other activities.”

For those of us who spend more time at a desk than on the field, here are some tips on how to get back in the swing of things and teach the next generation how to catch and throw, according to Pennye.

1. Make it fun—try to create a little bit of variety by changing up the distance between you or the size of the ball.

2. Start softPennye recommends starting with a softer ball than a baseball. He says that the softball and velcro glove sets available at most dollar stores are a great tool. Once kids find success with those, they are more likely to want to keep going. Even using a kickball and throwing with both hands is a great way to begin. “We try to use something simple, soft, and body safe to start,” Pennye says.

3. Start with bare hands—Pennye says that before adding a glove, players should learn to feel the ball in their hand. Using a softer ball will also help with this transition.

4. Don’t overdo it—Pennye says that ten to 15 minutes of catch is a great place to start. And if you’re sore? “Do it again tomorrow,” he says, laughing.

If you’re interested in more baseball and softball, the Kansas City Urban Youth Academy offers introductory workshops that are open to anyone, as well as specialized workshops to develop more specific skills.