It's a program that Debbie Rutter discovered five years ago at a volleyball conference.
“There are lots of sports that start at ages 4,5,6.,” said Rutter, soft-serving a volley ball to one of her five year old students.
“You've got soccer. You've got baseball. So, I thought, why not volleyball?”
The unique sports and fitness program is called Volleykidz, held in Dillsburg, at the Sports and Learning Center, across the street from Northern High School, sponsored by the West Shore YMCA.
The hour-long weekly classes teach four to six year olds volleyball fundamentals and related skill-building games and activities.
As a life-long volleyball player and coach herself, Rutter knows the value of early and proper instructions.
“It's fun for me to watch these little kids,” said Rutter, “to teach them something and their eyes just light up when they do it.”
“What we found is the more we can keep them moving, the better they do,” she added. “So, we work on volleyball basics for a while, then send them to through obstacle course for a few minutes, followed by jumping exercises.”
“Another fun feature are scooter exercises that works on their muscle strength,” she added.
Five year old Kai is following in the footsteps of his older brother who took the program three years ago. Kai's mom Stephanie Dunwoody says Volleykidz is the perfect way to generate interest in fitness for young children.
“I think it's important for kids to learn the fundamentals early,” said Dunwoody, “and it really helps them learn to control their bodies.”
The net is specially designed to accommodates little players and the ball is covered in a soft cloth to take the sting out of direct hits.