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7 March 2016, 19:18
Judy Murray has launched a new campaign to encourage parents to play more with their young children to improve their development.
The mother of tennis star sons Andy and Jamie helped them develop their skills and co-ordination from an early age by inventing a host of games they could play in the family living-room without buying expensive equipment.
The Scottish Government's PlayTalkRead campaign is giving away 15,000 free balls to encourage parents and carers of children up to three-years-old.
Ms Murray already runs the Tennis on the Road project that introduces children to tennis in parts of the country where courts and coaches are rarely found.
The initiative sees children play with balloons and bean bags to develop their skills before they starting playing tennis.
She said: "When Andy and Jamie were young we invented all sorts of games at home. With two young children and not much space or money, I made use of anything we had lying around the house.
"Balloon tennis across the sofa was a big favourite. Balloons move so slowly that all kids can make contact with them. The key is to start simple and slow, build the confidence through success and then try something a little more challenging.
"By rolling, kicking or throwing a ball back and forth, children are learning the basic tracking, sending and receiving skills that underpin all ball sports. They are also developing co-ordination, balance and movement skills without even realising it.''
The free balls and ideas for games can be collected from local leisure centres or from PlayTalkRead buses that tour the country.
Children's minister Aileen Campbell said: "The PlayTalkRead website has lots of great ideas for simple activities using a ball that anyone can play with their kids, such as kitchen basketball or loo roll bowling alley. So whether you are a mum, dad, grandparent or carer, it's worth checking out.
"As a mum of two young children, I know first-hand how much fun playing ball together can be. It's entertaining for both you and your wee one and it helps you bond with your little one.''