Walking Tennis Ball Catch

There were reasons to begin our walking catch with the ball we did. The sponge ball gave us a soft landing if mistakes occurred. It was the easiest of the balls to catch. Due to its slightly larger than medium size. The sponge ball also possessed a soft exterior. The soft exterior made it less challenging to grasp. While, protecting from any discomfort, had it slid past my hands. These elements reduced the challenge of a more complicated movement. Instead of standing in one place to throw and catch. Bernard progressed the exercise by having us walk the length of the yoga studio. Following the achievement of a walking throw and catch with the sponge ball, which wasn’t much smaller than a basketball. Bernard wanted to make the walking catch harder. So, he reached for the tennis ball to add challenge. The tennis ball was going to bring nervous energy to the movement. Much smaller ball than the sponge ball had been. Catching the tennis ball while on the move would be different. Separate from anything I had caught with my hands when in motion. The sponge ball was at least soft-sided. Reducing the chance of it bouncing out of my hands. Its similar size with a basketball provided comfort. The tennis ball was most similar to a baseball. Where a glove might normally be used to receive it. Using my hands to catch a ball this size, while being in motion, was new territory. 

The tennis ball has been a challenging one to handle. From the time, we were bouncing balls off the floor to catch. The lacrosse ball was the first. Making it the easier to catch with its heavier weight. Moving on to the tennis ball work. It had the tendency of popping out of my hands. The lighter weight had it bouncing off my fingertips. The difference in tossing the ball back and forth meant the use of both hands. Bouncing the tennis ball against the floor was a one-handed exercise. In this exercise, the tennis ball would be more challenging to catch, even with two hands. It would be much smaller than the sponge ball, used earlier. The firmer exterior surface and weight difference would also provide obstacles. While, concentrating on hand position and finger pressure would require focus. Keeping in mind how easily the tennis ball jumped off of my finger while bouncing it off the floor. Finger control would come into play on this exercise. The sponge ball alleviated pressure on hand dexterity. Catching it allowed for a more open hand position. The spongy surface forgiving any extra pressure from my fingers. It could be caught open handed with firmness. Squeezing the sponge ball wouldn’t have it move much inside the hands. In order to secure the tennis ball, my fine motor control would play a larger role. Manipulating the fingers into a more closed position. Due to the size and weight. The tennis ball would turn on more lights in my brain. Where tossing the ball back was the sponge ball challenge. Catching the tennis ball would be most significant. 

Like before, we set up about four-feet apart. Bernard held the tennis ball in one hand, as we began walking down the yoga studio floor. I realized quickly, the added adventure the tennis ball would bring. It was coming toward me with slightly more velocity. Requiring a quicker reaction time, from that of the sponge ball walk. My hands would also be asked to be positioned differently. The sponge ball could be caught with separated hands. Grasping the ball on either side as it arrived. Similar to catching a basketball. The position and dexterity of the hands takes on less importance. Positioning the hands to receive a tennis ball is more complex. The hands are to operate closer together. Creating more of a backstop or pocket for the ball to land. Walking down the floor meant the hand opposite Bernard would provide the backstop. So, moving in our first direction. The right hand would act as the secure hand as the tennis ball landed. My right has always been the dominate hand, so moving back would be most challenging. Using my left, which carries more impact from cerebral palsy, would be difficult. Having one hand act as the backstop or stability of the catch with the offhand close by to secure the reception was tough. Taking me time to learn the coordination when the tennis ball was traveling. I had to identify the catch point. Moving my hands to the spot in an organized manner to make the grasp. Remaining gentle enough to ensure the tennis ball doesn’t bounce off my fingertips. The process felt pretty tricky. 

It took time for me to learn the backstop process. At first, trying to catch the tennis ball, like I had the sponge ball, with hands apart. To grasp the tennis ball, hands had to be closer. There felt to be a timing aspect to the catch. The concept didn’t come until our third walk down the floor. After missing many of the tosses, by attacking the catch with separated hands. Trying to collapse on the tennis ball when it arrived. I finally figured out to hold my hands closer together. Lessening their travel to convene on the ball, holding them closer provided more of a pocket feel. The tennis ball could contact the backstop hand and immediately be secured by the other hand, now close by. The process of catching the tennis ball, felt more efficient, but not easy. There were still many concepts involved in this movement. The tennis ball would bounce out of my hand, at times. Even when they were placed in good position. The fine motor control making it hard to softly secure the catch. When the frustration might become impactful. Feeling like catch should be simpler. However, my disability adds to the intricacies of throwing and catching. More specifically, the manipulation of my fingers, hands, and wrists. Which, we use to do all kinds of things, including throw and catch. Pair it all together with walking and we are challenging my limits. 

Working on the ability of my hands moves forward. Learning how to catch and throw different types of balls. Helps me discover many concepts about my hands. The discovery that my ability to improve turns into reality. Bernard makes the movements more and more complex. After passing the sponge ball had become too routine. He found the way of progressing the exercise. Making it more uncomfortable with the tennis ball introduction. Once the ball appeared and the concept was communicated. The feeling of nervous energy swept my body. Engaging in the walking catch with the sponge ball felt doable. When Bernard introduced the sponge ball walking catch, I felt excited. I knew the challenge would be manageable. While, feeling it would be productive. Moving into working the movement with the tennis ball, I thought could get messy. But, Bernard knew I was ready for the challenge. To my surprise, I figured out how to make it work. Even arriving at the place of excitement, as we kept working on the catch. Through the progression of catching different balls. The operation of my hands has improved drastically. Bringing me a confidence in my daily activities. Just yesterday, I walked away from doing the self-check at the grocery store. Thinking to myself, the process has never been that easy. Bernard challenging my hand movement with these different balls has truly made life easier. 

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