Just a couple weeks ago was my first one-handed catch. Using the smaller of the two balls we have for playing catch. The catch happened when working through our warming up period of the workout session. It was an incredible shock to my system when I realized it. Many times, during our catch games, I have reached out with a single hand. Most often, the small ball merely bounces off the palm. Something I have experienced throughout the years. Not simply talking about trying to catch a ball one-handed. Many objects have been lightly tossed in my direction to catch. Most notably, things like keys or a golf ball. My usual response had been to see the object traveling toward me, and make an attempt by lifting my arm. Honestly, I hardly ever think about it being possible to one hand these objects. The keys, golf ball, or small squishy ball during the games of catch, usually fall to the floor. These reasons led to the shock being felt the other week. Standing about ten feet apart, the toss from Bernard went wide to my right. I stuck out my hand in my usual relaxed manner. Happening most often when I don’t have time to get both hands to the ball. My plan in these situations involves stopping the path of the ball. Not really thinking of making a catch. But, on this particular occasion, my fingers collapsed around the ball with great timing. Leading to the first one-handed catch after months of the activity. Still, I thought it was probably a one-time occurrence.
There often becomes a feeling inside when contemplating physical activity. I believe we can all get lucky on a good day. Meaning my physical movement might get synced up ideally for one moment. The thought leads me to believing that for anything to really count, it has to occur twice. When I do something physical one time, it seems like a pretty cool accomplishment. If the same or a similar physical achievement happens a second time, it feels more real. Like the coordinated movement, it took could occur more often. This was my understanding around the initial one-handed catch. The idea inside my head to excuse the happening as an abnormality were endless. Starting with the explanation of the short distance the ball traveled. We were just warming up when the first catch happened. Standing just about ten feet apart from one another. The grab felt more like an accidental reaction, than something that could be repeated. Another aspect leading to my skepticism was the absence of pressure on the activity. When warming up our shoulders to begin the session. The game of catch has no challenge attached to tossing the ball and catching its return. As we pull away from the ten feet, adding distance to the activity. Bernard usually adds a challenge to the game we play. Wanting me to continue my work on improving the times I can make a clean catch. The distance we expand our game of catch to, adds pressure. Along with the challenge of focusing to make a specific number of catches.
When we increase the distance of playing catch, my focus elevated. I become more involved with the concentration of making catches. Attempting to watch the ball carefully, as it travels through the air. My hand placement becomes crucial in the moments of the ball flying in my direction. Making sure both hands arrive at the place that each toss will arrive. The most challenge throws from Bernard travel to one side. Either arriving to the left or right and requiring a reach to meet the arrival. There has often been difficulty in reaching to my side with both hands. Being able to extend my arms, which are most comfortable with a slight bend at the elbow. The impact of cerebral palsy wants to keep my arms maintaining the slight bend. Meaning the goals of our workout sessions included finding ways to get my arms extended. The ball traveling toward me, off target, brings in the requirement for arm extension. Especially from the opposite side of my body. If the ball travels into my right side, the left arm would be asked to extend across my body. Attempting to ensure both hands are available to secure the catch. The process helps work on the mobility and coordination in my arms. Another factor being brought into the picture with an off-target throw would be hand placement. The challenge of getting my hands and arms to the spot where the ball needs to be caught, is on goal. After that box gets checked. My hands need to be adjusted in space. Making sure they are manipulated into a good position for the ball to land. Many things transpire when a toss wonders off to one side or another. However, the errant throw does the most for cerebral palsy improvement.
Bernard loves to talk about the fact he was a receiver in college, not a quarterback. Especially when he has a particular day where his throws are missing the mark. Sending me from one side to the other and up to down, in order to catch the throws. He also enjoys reminding me how beneficial the wondering tosses are to cerebral palsy improvement. The wild throws do help my cerebral palsy improve. Bringing into the equation of catching, many different factors. When the tosses do travel to one side or another, there are times I can’t get to them correctly. The throw might have wondered too far out of my range. My reaction time might not have been fast enough to get both hands to the landing point. In times when this occurs, I find myself simply reaching out my hand to stop the progress. The reaching out of one hand usually happens on my right side, only. As the comfort to reach out with only my left hand, hasn’t been found. My objective when extending only my right hand toward an erratic throw to my right, is just to stop the ball. I think the instinct comes from playing sports as a kid. When letting the ball go could result in it rolling into the street. Failing to stop a ball might have resulted in it ending up under a vehicle. Leading to the requirement of reaching under the car to jar it loose. Otherwise, the game would be over and nobody likes that result. Nor do they want to crawl under a car. The instinct inevitably kicks in with the sessions of playing catch. Even though, the wall directly behind me, would stop the ball.
It felt like the moment came without indication. Like many throws I had reached out to stop. All of them hitting the palm of my hand and falling gently to the floor. For some reason, this particular throw was different. The toss was veering off to my right side. Far enough from me that my left arm wasn’t going to arrive in time for the catch. My right hand stuck out to stop the progress of the ball. But, when the small squishy ball hit the palm of my right hand, it didn’t fall to the floor. For some reason, my fingers collapsed around the ball at just the right moment. Securing another one-handed catch of the small squishy ball. The moment felt nothing short of amazing. I looked back toward Bernard wish shock in my eyes and a silly grin. The one-handed catch was made for the second time. Taking away the thought inside my head of the first one being merely a coincidence. To make the moment sweeter, this catch happened from greater distance. Catching the pass, which had traveled the entire length of the small yoga studio. In addition to making the one-handed catch during the warmup, at the distance of about ten feet. This one was from at least twice the distance. The only thing more exciting at this point, would be making a one-handed catch in the larger of the yoga studios. Maybe that feat remains in my future.
These kinds of occurrences show me how much the process of training helps. The concept of continuing to work on a particular activity and how it leads to cerebral palsy improvement. We have been playing catch endlessly, it seems. Beginning each of our training sessions by throwing the ball back and forth. When we began, Bernard voiced the activity would help improve my reaction time. It seems like the one-handed catches proves the activity is working. Playing catch has also improved the overall coordination and use of my hands. Improving my ability to type on the keyboard and stop a controller from falling off a chair. The smallest of things can happen during an otherwise regular day that speak to the work we have done. They cause amazement in me whenever they occur. Letting me know the important role a simple activity like playing catch, can play in improvement. The other component to the success, which I often fail to mention, has been the chiropractic adjustments. Without the skill of Dr. McCracken, keeping my body in alignment. The ability to open the pathways, enabling me to continue finding improvement with my cerebral palsy, wouldn’t be a possibility. When my hips have been out of alignment, my entire body struggles to function, and pain becomes the center of my world. My improvements take the efforts of a group. Being able to experience these kinds of moments, makes me incredible thankful for the effort.