When Do Toddlers Start Kicking Balls?

7 min read

Written by Smita Srivastava

Smita Srivastava

When do toddlers start kicking ball

Toddlers not involved in lots of playful games miss out on personality and motor skill development. As you know, once people learn to kick a ball, ride a bicycle, or do any other physical activity, they don’t forget it for a lifetime. Your tot’s muscles and motor skills strengthen and improve during ball play. You simply need to know when do toddlers start kicking balls to help them perform this activity well.

Moreover, your bambino learns to communicate with people while playing. This removes the fear of approaching people. You might have seen that those who have been engaged in sports from a young age possess very dynamic personalities. So, how to help and encourage your toddler to kick a ball?

In This Article

When Does a Toddler Kick a Ball?

You pick up your little one to play peek-a-boo with them. You’ll soon notice their cute little legs getting bouncy and strong after they cross the 1-year mark. This is proof of their developing leg muscles. Standing and walking milestones are closer than you think. ,again is a milestone. So, when your toddler is around 20 months old, keep a ball near their leg and they may kick it to some distance.

A 22-month-old toddler can send the ball to an even further distance with no support. They’ll be able to balance on one leg better while kicking. By the time a toddler becomes 2 years old, they gaze at the ball after kicking once, to launch the ball again. Before hitting the 3-year mark, your toddler will have become a solid kicker, sending the ball flying at least at a 6-feet distance on the grass.

Why is Kicking a Ball Important For a Toddler?

A toddler kicking ball in Park

Your toddler’s learnings at this age will give them lifelong benefits. The act of kicking empowers them to use their leg muscles in different ways. Different circuits between the brain and the muscles are being created. Playing from a young age makes anyone better at sports. Moreover, as they play with you and others, they grasp and absorb many social skills. For instance, how to talk, negotiate, share, follow rules, take turns, and so on.

It will hugely benefit them when they become teenagers or at the time of making their career. Parents taking early initiatives to make their sons and daughters get along with people leaves an imprint on their children. When you look around, you see some people who seem naturally gifted at communicating, making friends, and being active, among other things. This is because somewhere in their formative years, they got exposure to those things.

Based on research done by ScinceDirect, Problem-solving skills and concentration also get enhanced through ball play. Toddlers need to react quickly to kick the ball. With focused attention, they set an aim and smash the ball with their foot. In a playful mood, they try repeatedly to kick the ball hard so that you can’t catch it. Their personality will get shaped through this, as they’ll enjoy taking on challenges.

Amazing Top 5 Benefits of Toddler Kicking Ball

Benefits of toddler kicking ball

The benefits of ball play will help your toddler in their overall growth and development. Some of the benefits of kicking ball include-

1. Rapid Progression in Hand-Eye/Foot-Eye Coordination

A toddler sees a rolling ball approaching him. Their eyes capture the position and the trajectory of the ball. And then they prepare their kick to throw it in a certain direction. It levels up their balance and coordination. They’ll be better equipped for activities like running, swimming, climbing stairs, etc.

All the time won’t be spent kicking a ball. They’ll also use their hands many times. So their hand-eye coordination will also improve. It’ll help them in learning to draw, and write, among other things.

2. Gross Motor Skill Development

A simple act of kicking has the support of quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles. In terms of physical dexterity, and athletics, your toddler will have a greater advantage in their later years. And since they’re exercising their body, they’ll get sick less often.

Moreover a research says, fine and gross motor skills also develop as they grip, catch, and pass the ball. Overall, lots of muscles get the needed training. You yourself will be a witness that toddlers start kicking balls with more athleticism as their muscles develop.  

3. Improves Self-belief

Your lively tiny tot is captivated by rolling things. They try to catch it, move it, and use their limbs to influence its movement. A feeling of achievement, of being able to do something in the world finds expression in them. This feeling will make them much happier and more confident. As they work on their kicks, and throw the ball at a longer distance, they will continue to develop their self-belief. 

4. Good Timing

When toddlers start kicking balls, it also helps them to develop a good sense of timing. They learn to assess and judge the time when they actually need to make contact with the ball to set it rolling. As they practice, this sense of timing develops further and gets more sharpened. A good sense of timing will come in handy in performing activities like crossing the road etc.

5. Balance

Kicking also helps the toddlers to learn about balance. When they start out initially, it’s not easy for them to maintain their balance while kicking a ball. They may experience frequent falls while kicking a ball.  But, practice makes perfect, and so as they continue to practice kicking, their balance will also develop slowly.

Tips to Help Your Toddler Practice Kicking a Ball

Tips to help your child practice kicking a ball

If your toddler doesn’t know yet how to kick a ball, implement these tips to help them learn it.

1. Swing Their Legs

Lift your toddler by holding them under their arms. Place a ball in front of their legs, and start to swing them back and forth. Their legs will sway, touch the ball, and roll it. For the first time, they’ll get acquainted with the concept of kicking. Be very cheerful with your tiny tot. After doing it a couple of times, they’ll try to do it on their own.

2. Help Them Walk to Kick

While kicking, they’ll still struggle to balance as one leg is used for kicking. So hold their hands. Help them walk if they still are learning to walk. Make sure they don’t use their hands, let it be a practice of kicking, i.e., leg muscles only.

3. Encourage Independent Play

Watch your toddler from a distance, playing with the ball. They’ll want you to hold them but give them their favorite toy in their hands. It will distract them from holding the ball with their arms. As they are attached to the toy, they won’t feel alone trying to hit the ball.

What Are the Activities Which Will Help Toddlers Kick a Ball?

Make the toddler practice with balloon

While kicking is a slightly difficult skill to master, there are certain activities that you can do with your toddler to help them do it properly. Some of the activities which you can try, and which will boost your toddler’s motivation for ball play are-

  1. Build a tower of blocks and let it break up from their ball kicks
  2. Craft a goal out of colorful cardboard as an aim. Keep the goal a bit far after their kicked ball reaches it, and continue to increase the distance
  3. Buy toy balls with engaging sounds and lights
  4. Use larger, colorful balloons as a ball alternative in the beginning
  5. Show them the forward kick, gentle tap, side kick, and other types of kicks

What if Your Toddler is Not Kicking a Ball?

Every toddler has different interests. Be patient with them. Invite other toddlers and kids to play. Your tot will learn better from someone of their age. It’s a good idea to buy a ball with their favorite cartoon character’s picture to get their attention. There is absolutely no need to panic if they are not kicking a ball. Do remember that every kid is different and does things at a different pace.

Kicking is a skill which requires a lot of coordination. Since each kid develops at their own pace, some toddlers may start kicking with support as early as 20-22 months and some may begin kicking once they reach the 2-year mark. As your toddler’s muscles develop and gain strength, with a little help and encouragement from you, they will master this skill sooner or later. So, instead of worrying about when do toddlers start kicking balls, enjoy their antics and support them as they grow and explore new skills.


1. Is Toddler Kicking a Ball a Milestone?

Yes. It’s a sign of your little one’s rapidly developing leg muscles.

2. How Far Can a Toddler Kick a Ball?

If your toddler is around 20-22 months old, they may be able to kick a stationary ball around 3 feet forward. If they are 2-year-old, they may kick the ball forward 3 feet in a straight line.

3. Can Autistic Toddler Kick a Ball?

Yes, an autistic toddler can kick a ball but this development may be a little delayed.

Smita Srivastava, Bachelors (BA) in Mass Media and Mass Communication from Delhi University
Masters (MA) in Mass Media and Mass Communication from Kurukshetra University

With a background in Mass media and journalism, Smita comes with rich and vast experience in content creation, curation, and editing. As a mom of a baby girl, she is an excellent candidate for writing and editing parenting and pregnancy content. The content she writes and edits is influenced by her own journey through pregnancy and motherhood. When not writing- She can be found curled up with a book. Or, bingeing on Netflix.Read more.

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