During dinner one night, my eight-year-old brother proudly announced that he did 67 juggles in school that day. A bold thought flashed across my mind: I decided I would beat my brother in soccer juggling in three weeks even though I had never juggled before. If my brother did it, it can’t be that hard, I told myself. Soccer juggling is a skill that requires a person to keep a ball in the air by using their foot to kick it up.
When I was in elementary school, I played basketball, soccer and tennis, but I quit soccer because I thought it was boring. Now, I realized that was a terrible decision because it would have helped me immensely with my footwork in tennis. Therefore, trying to learn how to juggle wasn’t just trying to best my brother.
“Trusting the process” was key to accomplishing this task because I had to be persistent and hard-working. Practicing every day was essential because it helped build muscle memory. I started that night after I was done with my homework, juggling with my brother’s soccer ball. I planned to do 100 juggles each day regardless of the amount of time needed.
On the first day, I could only do one or two juggles, and I soon realized that my assumption that “juggling is not so hard” was completely wrong. Needing to achieve mastery of foot-eye coordination was hard because this was the first time I’ve practiced this skill since playing soccer in 4th grade. Suddenly, I felt that beating my brother was impossible because he would regularly do 40 juggles each try and I could still only do four or five after the first week. According to my brother, he practiced every day for over a year to be able to juggle 20 times consistently, so only having three weeks seemed like trying to grow a tree in a month. My foot also got swollen, probably because I had terrible technique. I could never get control of the first juggle, so I had to run and try to recover, which was unlikely to happen. I watched some YouTube videos of proficient jugglers, and they juggled over 100 times flawlessly and gracefully, making it seem like it was a piece of cake. They gave advice, such as “kick the ball high,” which didn’t work because I would either kick it to the ceiling or kick it to an unplanned direction. Another piece of advice was to “use your head for more control.” This was by far the worst advice I’ve seen because I got dizzy and felt slight pain on the top of my head. Also, this didn’t even help my juggling: every time I used my head, I would mess up on the next juggle because I couldn’t see the ball.
In the second week, I could start doing six juggles consistently, and eight by the third week. However, I am nowhere close to the goal of mastering juggling a soccer ball or beating my brother.
At the end of the third week, I finally grasped that one has to be persistent and do the motion repeatedly to achieve muscle memory, and that determination is necessary to conquer the challenges and obstacles when learning a new skill, especially one that pertains to sports.