Last spring I expressed my desire to use the summer to expose our five-year-old to playing sports. I didn’t put him into organized leagues because I wanted him to have more time to be a disorganized kid and figure out what he likes. Also, leagues cost money, and I’ve been in a cheapskate mood for the last 30 years.
Now that summer is over, it’s time for an update on his progress as an athlete. All of these wonderful advancements were accomplished under the tutelage of only his tepidly athletic dad.
I’m not sure this is one of his favorites, as he never asked to play catch. I am happy to boast that he did successfully get all of his fingers into his baseball glove one time. This was not because he wanted to throw the ball with me, but because his friends found a ball and some bats in the garage and wanted to play. I can also proudly report that despite there being three Kindergarteners in the yard with a ball and bats, no windows were broken. Those are the kinds of fundamentals a dad can really appreciate.
We only tried this once, but he showed promising talent at sticking a foam skunk. This is a twist, since he spent all last year pretending to be a skunk.
Now this is real progress. He no longer runs away when I toss the football in his direction. He might turn his back and layer his arms over his head, but keep in mind we’re not using helmets or pads yet. He is completely unprotected from the injury that Nerf sponge could cause him. Occasionally he will actually stretch his arms out toward the ball, but this usually ends with him swatting the dangerous missile away.
He can now dribble a basketball up to three consecutive times with one hand. He has yet to fully comprehend that he needs to push the ball with his hand rather than just slap at it. This leads to diminishing returns after each dribble. By the fourth one, he is squatting down, slapping a ball that is resting on the ground. I may be a rulebook stickler, but I don’t count beating a dead ball as dribbling.
He’s pretty good at soccer. When he kicks the ball he doesn’t usually miss the target by more than 75˚ to either side. He still likes to kick the ball with his toe, like he’s playing kickball, but he rarely misses it anymore. He only uses his hands as an absolute last resort, even less so after that time he got his finger kicked. It’s amazing how much a little pain keeps one mindful of the rules.
All in all, it’s been a productive summer. Sure, the little man displays lots of natural talent, but raw talent needs to be molded. Hence, much of the credit for his blossoming as a superstar athlete must be assigned to his awesome coach.