So I was going to a physiotherapist in late 2007 because my back was messed up and he was very research-y, had a lot of papers published and the like, so he had a much more extensive questionnaire than other providers of that sort seem to. Once he looked at my answers he mentioned something about me being uncoordinated.
Now, I would never have described myself that way. I think of uncoordinated people as tripping all the time, or unable to dance or what have you. I walk and dance and so on just fine but I have a hard time learning new physical things, it takes me a long time to form a body memory, and I have trouble organizing my movements with someone else)*. I thought these things were problems but not ones of coordination.
I usually get my sister Neece to walk through things with me because she has a way of getting these sort of things through to me that other people can’t (I always feel bad for my teacher and worry that they are going to see my inability to learn as a problem with their teaching) and she helps me make the movement make sense. When I talked to her about the oddness of being called uncoordinated, she, with her usual directness, said ‘Chris, not being able to make your body do what your brain understands IS being uncoordinated.’
Another Neece lightbulb went on in my brain (she often lights them for me) and I let myself off the hook for not being able to get these things quickly. That doesn’t mean I stopped trying or just said ‘Oh well, uncoordinated!’ (totally not my style) but I stopped feeling so frustrated.
Fast forward to May/June of this year.
I’ve been using the WiiFit a lot, especially the balance games because I am so bad at them. After 147 tries (I kid you not, I am a persistent dame) I finally manage to get a decent score in the soccer game where you have to head the balls while avoiding soccer cleats and panda heads (!) that also fly at you.
That’s when the pattern emerges, the picture comes into focus, the ideas crystalize:
I am uncoordinated, and I have a slow reaction time but I CAN WORK ON THESE THINGS. I can teach myself to be more coordinated, and I can improve my reaction time with PRACTICE. (odd how I have to learn the practice lesson over and over, but there you go)
It’s not that I am bad at sports and learning physical activities, per se, it’s that I don’t have the full set of basic skills to do them yet. I can do some parts intuitively, but without the basic practice I won’t be able to move ahead. It’s like I have been trying to learn to eat with a fork but I can’t make a fist, nor make a pincher grip, so I grab the fork between the palms of both hands and make do with that method – I get some food, but not as effectively as I could if I was able to do the other movements, and I frustrate myself and people trying to explain forks to me. Okay, so I’m not all that bad, but it’s the closest analogy I could think of at the moment.
So, I need to rewrite my mindset and my brain yet again. I am not ‘bad at sports’, I need to practice my coordination and my reaction time.
I wish things like this had been dealt with in gym classes when I was a kid, but it seemed like we focused on sports and the kids who had natural inclinations left the rest of us in the dust.
So one of my summer projects is to increase my coordination and reduce my response time, and my lucky sons are getting dragged into it with me. Bring on the obstacle courses!
*Obviously, not the case in ALL circumstances. 😉