A sports post from a non-sports fan?

Photo by John W. Iwanski, Flickr

Let’s get one thing straight, I’m really not very “sporty.”

I really didn’t play a lot of sports growing up. In fact, up until recently I was kind of afraid of them. I admired the skill, athleticism, and teamwork required to play, but I lacked that all important eye-hand coordination and a knowledge of the rules. If forced to play (whether in gym or out of “social duty”) I did my best to stay away from the ball.

So now that you have a sense of my “sports background,” you may be wondering why I’m writing a post about football, and what gives me the right to give any sort of analysis on something that I’m clearly not an expert at.

To answer that question, let me tell you a quick story about one of the worst dates of my life.

(ahem.)

The date (in a nutshell):

The date was a set up. It was a group date. He picked me up. It was a long drive (with lots of awkward conversation), and we just didn’t “gel.” To make this less-than-ideal moment worse, after an awkward dinner the group decided we should play a game. Monopoly? Clue? Nope. Football.

As if I hadn’t endured enough, now I had to play a game I didn’t know anything about (yes, even at the age of 23) in front people I didn’t really know. Remember how I can’t catch? Anything!?

Well, despite the heartache, awkwardness, and eternal feel of that experience it contained a pivotal (you might even say “magical”) moment for me. You see, this date happened to be during the summer I was certifying in LMA. We had just spent a lot of time talking about eye tracking as an important part of developmental movement. I had come to learn that I had difficulties with eye tracking (makes sense since I’ve always had difficulties with that whole eye-hand coordination).  Little did I know that the practice in the studio, combined with the hours of working on my own body connectivity, would translate into something magical on a patch of grass.

Let me play it out for you:

There we were playing football. There I was, as usual, running in the opposite direction of the ball so as not to be thrown the ball (or be of any use to my team)… when all of a sudden and without any warning, I hear my name: Robin! Robin!

uh oh.

“Robin! Catch it!”

Photo by Hyunseok Michael Knight, Flickr

It was a slow motion experience. My heart sunk to the pit of my stomach as I relived years and years of looking like a complete moron because I couldn’t catch anything. I extended my arms, tried not to close my eyes, and then…

I caught it. I caught a football.

Do you understand!? I CAUGHT A FOOTBALL! I was 23 years old, and up until that day I had never caught a ball. EVER.

EV-ER!

And it gets better. I caught the ball again. And again. And… you get the picture. All of a sudden I had NFL agents looking me up. (Okay, maybe not…)

I still wouldn’t call myself a huge sports person, but I definitely feel more excited by the fact that I don’t have to know all the rules to improve my game (although knowing the rules would help even more…).  The truth is I actually really enjoy watching athletes. Professional athletes are some of the most connected movers I’ve ever seen. Their ability to make their body connect to their game is inspiring.

I did recover from that bad date. Even got married… to a Chicago Bears fan, nonetheless. A while back my husband was watching some videos of Devin Hester, a player for the Bears. I talked a little bit about what I saw and it sparked a whole conversation about LMA and sports. My husband then pulled up another video about legendary Walter Payton (another former Bears player). It was fun to talk about their movement signatures and what each use to make them as good at what they do.

Ready to practice your observation skills?

Here are the videos my husband and I were watching. Check them out and leave a comment with what you notice.

What difference do you see between these two players?
What, in terms of their movement, help them?

You can use LMA, football terminology, or whatever language supports you. Make it long, keep it short… whatever! Just have fun! Later I will post my observations of these two clips.

Ready, set, GO BEARS!

*The videos are from the Chicago Bear’s website and thus have short ads in front of them. Sorry, nothing I can do about that.

This first clip is current Bear’s player Devin Hester. (#23)

This second clip is of Walter Payton. (#34)

 

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Robin is a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA) and a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT). With an MFA in Modern Dance from the University of Utah, a BA in Dance from Brigham Young University, and years of both private and higher education teaching under her belt, Robin brings an expansive view of movement and the human body to her work.
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