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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Hardest sport to master? -- SUNDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


I like to watch sports. That should come as no surprise to our readers, since we run a website based on the joy and excitement of Louisville women's athletics. Whether it is on television or in person, I marvel at the skill and athleticism of student-athletes applying their trade.

I remember my competitive days...learning where to be on the court and positioning myself for rebounds or trying to master solid defense. In football, it was a whole different skill set. As a defensive end, my objectives were and destroy. My brief baseball career ended when I was faced with  trying to hit a curve ball. Never did figure that out.

While watching a very competitive tennis match the other day, the thought crossed my mind...what is the toughest sport to master? 

Tennis, with it's challenges of successfully getting the ball back over the net, positioning yourself for the return and the quick sprints and lateral movement are ones that can be arduous in terms of become good. I also thought of golf...the correct swing in a multitude of different positions on the court. Multiple clubs, putting, chipping and driving. Playing in woods, sand and deep grass (which describes my game perfectly). Certainly not an easy thing to perform successfully at. 

Running, as in track and field or cross country, is fairly straight-forward and basic. Sprinters go as fast as they can over their short distances. Long distance specialists learn to pace themselves and attempt to muster a final sprint near the end of their course. Track and field gets a little more complicated when you add the elements of hurdles, objects to throw, jumps and bars to clear. 

I've always marveled on how lacrosse players maneuver, pass, catch and throw with their netted sticks. Positioning is also important in lacrosse and you definitely get some running in. The same with field net on that stick but you still have to be able to progress the ball down the field, play defense, pass and run, run, run. 

Basketball players have to use a bunch of skill sets. Shooting accurately being one of the most important. Ballers have to be able to pass efficiently, dribble, determine where a rebound might fall and try to prevent the opponent from doing all those things effectively. They also get in some miles on the court during a game and the quicker they can run, usually the better. 

Volleyball. That's a sport that really calls upon multiple skills. Serving, setting, blocking, digging and jumping in a wide variety of situations. I never ceased to be amazed at how wide-netters plunge themselves to the floor to keep a flying orb remaining in the air and, at the same time, get it to a teammate to do something with. In basketball, the ball touching the floor is a big part of the game. In volleyball, it's frowned upon...unless your delivering a kill shot or blocking a kill shot. 

Softball also requires a variety of motions. Hitting the ball where the opposition isn't. Throwing accurately. Catching the ball. Running the bases with speed and being in the right place at the right time to stop the batted ball. 

I came up with soccer as perhaps the most difficult to master. First off, you can't use your hands...unless you're the goalkeeper. Imagine a basketball player or shot-putter with no hand options. In soccer, the objective is to score and you have to be able to kick effectively, move the ball to teammates with your body, head or feet and you are constantly on the go. Imagine Myisha Hines-Allen trying to get the ball to Mariya Moore with her head, feet or trying to sink a three by kicking it from 20 feet. You also have to stop the opponent from scoring in soccer. Soccer players spend a lot of time on the ground. They run a lot, maybe more than any of the other sports mentioned. 

I used to be ambivalent about the sport of soccer. Big deal, I thought...they try to kick a ball into a net. But, as I watched the sport in depth as I got older...I have grown to appreciate the depth, concept and multiple skills needed to become good at it. And, look hands! In my brief encounters at soccer, I liked playing defense...we called it the fullback position 'back in the day'. The reasoning was because I could try and kick the ball as hard and far as I could to the other end of the field. It reminded me of my days as a terror on the grade school playground during kickball. Paulie could send the ol' rubber ball a long way.

I have never played rugby, cricket or curling. I'm sure they have their own nuances, difficulties and schematics. I still choose soccer as the toughest sport to master, though...and admire those who do it well. 



Did you catch Saturday's broadcast of THE CARDINAL COUPLE RADIO HOUR? Worldwide and I had a great time in the studio...discussing hoops, comfort food and had a great guest in Mercer County head girls basketball coach Chris Souder...who joined us via phone. Worldwide even posted a great score in the weekly quiz! 

In case you missed it, here's a link to the rebroadcast. 




I will be away from these pages for a few days while vacationing. Another chance for me to fall in icy cold creek water while wearing hip-waders and carrying assorted paraphernalia. Don't try this at home, kiddies.

Not to worry, though. Worldwide Jeff McAdams has ascended to the captain's chair and will be guiding our version of The Enterprise through the sports galaxy the next few days. We've also got a few great writers lined up to fill these pages...DAVID WATSON returns to the pages, HOWIE LINDSEY has offered his services for a day, WorldWide will write TWICE this week and I'm still working on getting someone lined up for Wednesday's column. You want a shot at it? E-mail Worldwide at 

If needed, I'll jump back in the saddle and bore you with a dissertation on trout fishing, flies and sore and aching muscles created by dancing on banks and slippery rocks. If, for some reason, we get huge breaking news on any Louisville women's sports...Worldwide will drop whatever he is going, set the alert at DefCon 5 and have the details available to you faster than Briahanna Jackson can drive by a backpedaling defender .  

Gone fishin'.




  1. In my opinion, it's baseball without question. Hitting a 90-100 mph pitch that is curving, dropping, etc. has to be the single most difficult task in sports.

  2. I think golf is a very challenging sport your swing has to be so precise. You have to take that small golf ball and hit it so far in a hole. it's takes years to become good and you have to be gifted to become great.

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  4. Off topic again...
    2013 has to rate as one of our worst all time recruiting classes under Walz. It's interesting to see what happens to players after they leave us. Hitting the Jr college ranks didn't work out for us that year.

    Emmonnie Henderson 2 years then goes track

    Janelle Cannon Jr College All American transfer never played for us - went on to play at Palm Beach Atlantic U and only played the last semester of her senior year (2016) leading team in scoring at 17.2 per game)

    Starr Breedlove Jr College transfer - very limited playing time for us in 2014 and went on to star her senior year as point guard (12.9 ppg and assist/steal leader) on an a UTEP team (29-5)that won their conference regular season (Western Ky in same conference) just missing NCAA tourney and went deep into NIT drawing 10,500 fans at last home game and finishing with a 19-1 home record)

    1. We sure made up for it in 2014
      Hines-Allen, Moore and Carter

  5. Yes that was a down year for Coach walz 2013.But 2014 two McDonald's all-americans and a good 4 star.

  6. Does anybody know how is bionca dunham coming along?

  7. Who's going to run the point guard this year for the U of L Women's Basketball team.
    My pick is AC.

  8. Deciding on the top 5 hardest sports is hard. Just remember that it is sports that are hard for both training and competition. For example, a game like a football is hard to compete in, but they practice pretty lightly to avoid injury.


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