Summer Swim Activities: Improve Your Child’s Balance, Coordination, and Strength

Swimming in the pool is a fun summer activity but it can also be a fun opportunity to work on improving your child’s balance, strength and coordination.

There are many benefits to completing exercises in the pool. The first, being that the water gives resistance in all directions and it can be a good strengthening activity. Another benefit is that water can give your child strong sensory input, which can help them perform to their best ability. The water’s buoyancy can also help unload the joints and give them a better environment to practice gross motor skills.

Here are some fun exercises and games to try with your child in the pool to improve balance, coordination and strength.


Balance Activities

  • Kickboard surfing
    • Have your kid sit on a kick board
    • Move the kick board in all different directions
    • To progress have your child kneel in a high kneel position and eventually have them stand on the kickboard


Coordination Activities

  • Toy pick up
    • Put floating objects on the surface of the pool and have your child put in a bucket
    • The water reflects and changes the look of the toys
    • Good for hand-eye coordination

  • Waiter and Waitress
    • Put a cup of water on a kick board and have the child carry it like a waiter/waitress and avoid spilling it


Strengthening Activities

  • Giddy up high fives
    • Have your child straddle a pool noodle
    • Put your hand up and have them cross over to give you a high five
    • Good exercise for crossing midline and working on core strength/stability

  • Blast off exercise
    • Put feet on the side of the pool and in a crunch position
    • Have the child push through their legs and blast off
    • Great for leg strengthening

  • Flutter kicks
    • Have the child lay on their stomach on a kick board
    • Have them keep their knees straight and alternate kicking their legs
    • This exercise targets the back extensors

  • Whirlpool
    • Have your child circle the pool and create a current
    • When you say “switch” have the child turn 180 degrees and walk against the current

  • Push-Pull the water
    • Have your child use the kickboard straight up and push and pull against the walker
    • You can play around with the orientation of the kick board to help strengthen different areas of the arms

–Alexa Bachmann, PT