I grew up loving the game of basketball. Shooting hoops in my driveway. Dreaming of playing on the high school team. Like my father and uncles had done during their school days. Believing if I practiced enough, there would be a spot. Cerebral palsy might limit me to the final man on the bench. But, cerebral palsy wouldn’t rob me of playing. Though the disability didn’t take away basketball in the neighborhood. It did hamper my attempt to play for the school team. Even having missed terribly during my seventh-grade tryout. The thrill of dribbling a basketball never left my system. Leading to the joy involved with some of the challenges Bernard provides. Bouncing the lacrosse and tennis balls are great examples of this joy. Having me bounce and catch each with one hand was fun. However, that challenge was met to satisfaction after a couple months. Bernard was tasked with creating the next challenge using the two balls. Challenging the signal system in my body differently. Now, I would be tasked with crossing each ball over. Bouncing them across the center line of my body. Moving on from the right hand to the left and back again. Not unlike the move I worked on so diligently as a kid. Attempting to move the dribbling basketball from my right to left hand, tying up the defender, and getting to the basket. The challenge brought back happy memories from childhood.
The ability to cross-over bounce the two balls seemed more challenging than a basketball. Bouncing the basketball didn’t require a catch. When I would attempt bouncing the basketball across my body. It felt like the ball was merely being guided. Causing less reliance on my finger dexterity. Or, possibly pressuring my finger dexterity differently. For me, it felt like actually making the catch each time would add challenge. Especially grasping the ball with lefty. There was going to be a difference between the balls as well. With the tennis ball requiring more care with my fingers. Finding early in the bouncing exercise, the tennis ball would pop out of my grasp. Handling it required more fine motor movements. The lacrosse ball could be handled with a death grip if necessary. Making the catch of the lacrosse ball more of a gross motor movement. In my cerebral palsy journey, fine motor control has carried added challenge. Meaning the most improvement could be found by working the tennis ball. The new cross-over pattern would also impact my brain differently. Keeping in mind, I’m far from understanding neuroscience. However, I enjoy discussing it with people who have knowledge in the area superior to myself. Bernard has understanding in the area as it relates to his profession of training. While, Dr. Dana has the knowledge with his chiropractic studies. It will always be of interest, as the subject helps in understanding my challenges.
We began bouncing the lacrosse ball across my body. Sending the ball bouncing from my left hand to my right. Once the catch was secured in the right hand, bouncing the lacrosse ball back to the left. With the heavier lacrosse ball, making the catch was simplest. The ability to grasp the ball with any kind of finger tension. The challenge was mostly about having my hand in the correct spot. Another factor was making sure my fingers were fully extended. Leaving my hand wide open for the ball to land. Instead of the ball being bounced directly up and down on one single side. The bouncing across the front of my body required the new element of targeting the bounce. Attempting to have the lacrosse ball hit the floor in front of the midline of my body. Traveling directly across to provide an uneventful catch for the opposite side the handle. The challenge was providing a bounce without requiring the hand too far out front. The opposite situation could find the ball coming too close to the body during its travel. Neither would help in the learning of the cross-over bounce progression. So, the direction of my bounces, which challenges cerebral palsy, was important to learn. As it would become more important when working with the next ball in the movement.
Performing the cross-over bounce with the lacrosse ball was positive. I think having bounced the basketball often in my youth helped. The firm surface and weight of the ball also played a key role. It settled in my hand easily and any way my hands closed around the ball worked. Moving on in the progression to the tennis ball was more complex. The ball adding challenge to the cross-ball bounce movement. The weight of the tennis ball adding new dimensions. Providing more element to add challenge in my brain. Bringing reliance on the fine motor movement of my fingers. My fingers would be called upon to close more gently around the tennis ball upon arrival. If the securing squeeze was too firm, the tennis ball would likely pop out of my hands. The positioning of my hand to receive the ball would also play an added role. Especially my left hand, would require more supination than is natural. Cerebral palsy making it challenging to fully rotate my wrist skyward. In order for the lighter weighted ball to be secured, the flattened hand surface was needed. My fingers would require the full extension as well. Giving the tennis ball ample room to land. The task has been going on for weeks. My brain and wrist having trouble with the adjustments needed. Often finding myself missing one or two catches with lefty. My focus might not full be engaged and the wrist isn’t stretched all the way open. Bernard will remind me to really focus on turning my left wrist to the sky and open my fingers. Placing me in a much better position to make the catches.
Each time the tennis ball popped out of my left hand was disheartening. The stretching of my left wrist to flatten the palm took concentration. As my brain experienced new challenges with the cross-over bounce. Our goal is for cerebral palsy improvement of all kinds. The bouncing and catching of different athletic balls in one phase. Attempting to help me make better use of my hands. From the more gross motor movements of working with the lacrosse ball, requiring little finesse in my fingers. We moved on to the tennis ball, which challenge many more physical capabilities. Forcing me to focus on a wrist movement my body found challenging. To working on the fine motor control on my fingers. Making attempts to be gentle and controlled with the finger movements. My ability to catch onto the movement with the lacrosse ball went smoothly. Relying heavily on years of dribbling a basketball. Both balls calling for little grace in the hand to handle properly. The tennis ball turned out to be a whole other thing entirely. Working with the tennis ball causing frustration. As my hands require practice in all the areas called upon. Handling the ball gently, turning over the wrist, and bouncing the ball in an advantageous direction. Even through the aggravation, I understand how much working with balls helps my disability. Making every physical task a little easier. So, as we progress to even greater ball challenges. I know my coordination will only improve.