When it comes to playing sports and getting ready to play sports, it is imperative to make sure your child has no reflexes present. If children do, what happens is movements that should be automatic, are not and development is halted by these reflexes. Some of the most common reflexes we see with kids that have difficulties in sports are called Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex, Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex, and Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex.
Asymmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex is a reflex that should go away right around six months of age and plays a lot into the ability to use your eyes opposite of your head movements and your head opposite your body movements. When you see this reflex in kids that play sports, their eyes and head reflexively contract on one side and extend on the other. For example, let’s say a kid is running down the field playing soccer and they turn their head to one side while their eyes track to the other. When this occurs, they will often lose their balance. Kids with this reflex tend to be on the ground more than they are playing the actual sport.
Another common reflex is the Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex. This reflex helps develop the connection of your upper body and your lower body so you can develop good running skills, good movements patterns, and use both your upper and lower extremities as one unit. This reflex also helps your eyes learn to converge and diverge. When this reflex doesn’t go away, it can cause double vision because your eyes dont want to move together but instead drift apart. Many times children that have retained this reflex have poor hand/eye coordination so they would have a very hard time catching a ball.
Lastly, Tonic Labyrinthine Reflex should go away around the age of three and a half years of life. It is very important for developing good muscle tone and developing good balance. Both of these are very important when children begin to play sports so that they can maintain balance while doing hand/eye coordination activities.
If your child is struggling with any of these, check to see if they have reflexes that could be in the way of their balance, coordination, eye movements, or even body movements.