Soccer, Juggling, and Plasticity
My son Jackson is playing soccer for Red Star and has started learning to juggle the ball. It has been a long time since I played soccer so I thought it would be fun to learn along with him. When we started, we were getting 1 or 2 juggles before the ball hit the ground, and I was hopelessly right-footed. As we practiced, we started to improve. From 1 or 2 to 3 or 5… and then 10… and now I’m up to the 40’s and am using my right foot and my left foot (although admittedly not evenly). My son is improving, too. The Red Star coach set up a reward system, and we both hope to get an award soon.
I wonder what this focused effort is doing to rewire our brains. Before I came to Posit Science I would not have thought about the importance of the brain in this activity, and I would not have thought about my brain’s ability to find a way to add this new skill to its variety of tasks it can already perform. I’m not going to challenge any of the US World Cup men’s team members for a spot in next summer’s World Cup, nor could I have played for the National Champion North Carolina Tar Heel women’s soccer team, but I am happy that I can put in enough time to keep up and enjoy quality time with Jackson.