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Water Games For Upper Body Strength And Coordination

Start the Summer with a Splash:

Water play is both fun and beneficial for your child. Water is naturally resistive, which makes it so great for strengthening. Additionally, water provides uniform pressure to the whole body, which facilitates body awareness and sense of body position in space.

These activities and toys are best for younger children or those children who are tentative about entering a big pool since they can be done outside the pool or in a small, child-sized pool. They also strengthen the upper body and challenge fine motor control.

Water Toys:

Sponges: Fill up a container by squeezing water from a sponge. Start with smaller sponges and progress to larger ones. Holding the sponge at shoulder level or higher increases shoulder strength.

  • Spray Bottles: Use the spray bottle for target practice by aiming for a particular spot on a wall or plastic easel drawn from chalk or shaving cream. Using a bigger, fuller spray bottle and holding it at or above shoulder level increases the challenge. Use the thumb, index, and middle fingers to squeeze the trigger and the ring and pinky fingers to hold the bottle steady.

  • Use a squeeze bottle (like a restaurant-style ketchup squeeze bottle, to fill water balloons. Toss the balloon at the target.

  • Squirt Toys: To increase hand strength, fill the toys up, and squirt the water while aiming for a target.

  • Wind-up Toys: These toys are generally available as bath toys, but are just as much fun in the pool. Use the thumb, index, and middle fingers while keeping the ring and pinky fingers tucked into the palm to prepare the hand for using scissors and controlling pencils and crayons.

  • To build shoulder strength, pour water from pitchers to cups, starting with a smaller, lighter pitcher.

These games are best for children who feel comfortable in the water. For those children who love the water, playing water sports is a fun way to incorporate eye-hand coordination, upper body coordination, and overall strengthening and endurance into summer play. Simply walking through water can enhance the sense of body position in space and balance!

Pool Sports & Games:

  • Water Volleyball:

For younger children, try the Giraffe Volleyball Pool Game (

For older children, try Swimways Poolside Volleyball Game (

  • Water Basketball:

For younger children, try Kool Dunk Basketball Pool Game or Water Basketball with Ring Toss Game (

For older children, try Pro Water Basketball Pool Game (

  • Water Bull’s Eye: Floating Target Pool Game (

  • Water Tag

  • Belly Board: Lie on a kickboard belly down and use your arms to propel through the water to build upper body strength.

  • Pool Races: Run across the pool as fast as you can. Or, try straddling a pool noodle and race across the pool by using your arms to paddle.

Play safe: Remember to always apply sun block regularly, especially after playing in the water.

For additional water play ideas, tips on easing your child into the water, and an explanation of the sensory benefits of swimming, read our blog “Water Fun for Everyone!”

Written by: Aviva Goldwasser, MS, OTR and Chaye Lamm-Warburg, MA, OTR, Director POTS

257 views5 comments


James Brown
James Brown
Sep 05, 2022

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Aug 23, 2022

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