Soccer Daze

During the wane and weft of my day yesterday I observed a group of kids during soccer practice; dribbling, head butting, dashing from cone to cone. A flood of memories from my own pee-wee soccer days washed over me.

I could see myself adrift in a sea of green grass. Esoteric lines traced along the ground in white spray paint signified that I, a subpar player, was bound to the back half the field. I was vaguely aware of a swarm of activity happening in the front half of the field. The machinations of the “good” players seemed to be drawing closer to my territory. I invoked a silent prayer, “Please God, don’t let the ball come to me”. You see, on this particular day, I had what I later realized was an ingrown toenail on my right big toe, my kicking toe. How it came to be ingrown is the substance of another story, but let’s just say it had to do with the phrase “think fast” and a not so soft softball.

Needless to say, a hateful god sent the ball whirring directly towards me. Realizing that this was my moment, I began running towards the ball and wound up for a kick. The next thing I knew, I had simultaneously made the best kick of my career (I think that the ball ended up quite near the opponents goal) and blown up my right big toe.

After the game had drawn to a close, and all the Capri Sun no-real-juice containing juice drinks and fun size bags of Fritos had been consumed, I peeled back my tubular sock to reveal a sickening mishmash of blood and pus oozing from the junction of toe and nail. Many years and a visit to the podiatrist later that toe is still not the same. It feels like I have a mild case of whatever the strange condition is that causes people to want to amputate their own limbs. It’s always a little uncomfortable in a tingly weird way.

I never again kicked a ball as well as I did that day, although I could care less as team sports and particularly ones involving balls make me cringe. The fact that I abhor such activities is very likely related to the ineptitude and painful self-awareness that I experienced playing such sports as a child. I do wonder from time to time if things could have been different. Maybe I could have been a baller had I been the benefactor of the latest in pediatric sport science.

The current leading-edge thought is that kids should be taught bodily awareness first and sports second. Tossing kids into a game of soccer, football, or baseball is easy. Addressing them as individuals and helping them to learn how to coordinate their young bodies is more energy and time intensive, but the results can be dramatic. Fundamental body mechanics such as correct running, jumping, and twisting provide that base from which other skills can be developed.

It may be out of the financial range for many parents, but having their young ones participate in a few sessions with a qualified personal trainer could be a tremendous boon to a child's physical development. Confidence in their ability to learn and master basic exercises can eventually translate into sporting success, ingrown toenails not withstanding.

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About Tony Fed

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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