Goal number nine, foot juggling.

15 Apr 24

By Dominic Byrne

Single Parent Getting After It

Why Why Why??

When minutes are so precious, why take time to practice a meaningless activity in a sport I don’t even play?

Because it’s not meaningless, it’s an opportunity to keep moving, stay agile, feel young, be healthy, and conquer challenging tasks.

This 50-by-50 goal was a tough one. I couldn’t tell you how many failed attempts I made over the previous 10 weeks to hit 50 touches. When I started out, five or six touches felt like a win, and hitting 10 was a real milestone. In the last three sessions, I had so many attempts in the 40s that the goal of 50 remained incredibly elusive.

I’d only practice a couple of times a week for about 10-15 minutes a session, ordinarily late afternoon when I was hitting a mental wall. It was such a fun way to get a sweat on and a mood booster.

Goal number nine, foot juggling. Juggling a soccer ball with your feet, also known as “foot juggling” or “keepie-uppies,” is very good for my brain!

This discipline requires precise coordination between the eyes, feet, and brain. This enhances proprioception, the body’s ability to sense its position and movement in space. This heightened coordination will hopefully translate to improved performance in other physical activities and tasks that require fine motor skills, perhaps even a helping hand towards more goals on my list.

Keeping a soccer ball aloft challenges my balance and spatial awareness. While stating the obvious here, the brain continuously processes information about the ball’s position and adjusts my body movements to maintain control. It’s incredible how quickly the brain gets a feel for the ball and the precise contact with the foot.

Foot juggling requires intense focus and concentration to keep the ball in the air. You engage your brain’s attentional systems as you strive to maintain a rhythm and prevent the ball from touching the ground. Continuous adjustment and slight technique variations are needed to find what works.  There is also that tipping point of fatigue and concentration where you go from getting better to regression instantly.

Learning new motor skills stimulates neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reorganise and form new neural connections. This process strengthens existing neural pathways and creates new ones, enhancing overall brain function. Engaging in activities promoting neuroplasticity is beneficial for cognitive health and can offset age-related cognitive decline.

I also hope that it is a favourable treatment for my potential CTE.

Like most forms of physical activity (perhaps all), foot juggling releases endorphins, neurotransmitters that give you a buzz. Doing different and possibly somewhat random shit like foot juggling, reduces stress levels and improves my mental well-being. So why why why? That is why.

I’m only 16% through my 50by50 goals, and I want to be 50 when I have achieved them all, so I have four years and nine months to work through the remaining 36%. Keep truckin’.

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