HARDEST SPORT TO MASTER? THAT'S A TOUGH ONE.
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 simple...search 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?
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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 hockey...no 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 ma...no 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.
THE CARDINAL COUPLE RADIO HOUR
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.
LINK: THE CARDINAL COUPLE RADIO HOUR 7-16/16
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 firstname.lastname@example.org