Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bend it like Uncle Derek!

It's an interesting thing about pain; depending on how you came by it, reaction can be anything from sympathy to side-slapping amusement.

Same pain either way.

Case in point. An anonymous 54-year-old man (with the initials "D.M.") plays 30 minutes of soccer with his ten-year-old nephew... two days in a row. The morning of day three the aforementioned middle-aged guy is raked with intense muscle and joint pain. A couple of hours ago he tried to do the usual two and a half mile morning walk but barely managed a full mile.

When pain happens to some 35-year-old international super-star soccer cry-baby, all sorts of people run on the field with stretchers and everyone gets all concerned...

... But sports related pain in men my age is typically considered extremely funny. I'm thinking I might need to show a couple of "red-cards" - but I'd have to find an official referee with some actual working knowledge of the game. and there evidently aren't enough of those available even for the World Cup in South Africa...

Good news:
But the good news is that, 14 years after "hanging up my boots", I can still juggle, pass, dribble, trap and "Bend it [better than] Beckham" - That's "Bend it like Uncle Derek"!

So my nephew is actually getting a one-on-one soccer workshop this week. We're watching some World Cup Games, then working on some specific skills. Stuff like:
  • Dribbling without ever looking at the ball
  • Bending the ball both to the left and to the right
  • "First touch" (control and awareness)
  • Keeping the ball within "shoelace length" of his feet while dribbling (like it's tied to his shoelaces)
  • Shooting without any set-up or warning
  • And - two key things the USA did NOT do well in South Africa - "Moving off the ball" and "Finding empty space"

But I really do have to be more careful! It's like my instinct still responds the way I did in my 30's (my last soccer game was in September of 1996, I had just turned 40) - and then my body obediently tries to follow through but without the flexibility, strength or speed necessary to perform without hurting itself!

It's Okay though. I'm very pleased that I still have the skill and the imagination. And I'm even more pleased that the essence of who I am is not defined by my physical abilities anymore! If it was, then my "Adventures in middle age" will turn out to be one long story of pain and disappointment!

As it is, there's just enough pain to give everyone else a good laugh every now and then!


1 comment:

Jesse said...

Love the update and the story. I really did lol. Thanks for working with Jared.