Growing up, I was the most un-athletic Diaz kid. Even though I was the oldest, I was the last to get picked when my siblings and I played 3 on 3 volleyball. They claim they don’t remember, but they went to play tennis without me– telling them they would wait for me while I go change, but then they all took off without me. Clearly, I am not over it.
Ironically, of all the siblings, I was the one who ended up working in sports. I used to work for a foundation that funds youth sports program throughout Southern California. My former colleagues and I were joking around that I should try out all the Olympic sports. Next thing I knew, I had a list.
It was because of trying out a bunch of sports that I realized that I sucked at team sports and that I actually enjoyed the individual sports. No basketball or soccer for me. I’ll run, play golf, and do some table tennis.*
However, I underestimated the effort and physical fitness required to play sports or pretty much do anything. My goal was not to go to the Olympics or even win a medal at a local race. I just wanted to do the sports for fun. I soon learned that in order for the activity to be fun, you gotta do it right. Also, as you get older, not doing it right will likely lead to pain.
When I decided that golf was going to be my sport, it was on like Donkey Kong– I bought the equipment and looked for an instructor. I found James Hwang, one of the many great instructors, at Rancho Park Golf Course Driving Range. He taught me the basics and I got better. As I got better and no longer needed the bi-monthly lessons, he suggested spending 70% of golf my time on the golf course and 30% on the driving range. And most importantly, strengthen my core. Whenever I go to him for a refresher, he keeps bringing up the core thing. But as I play a lot more golf– once a week– I realized that I do need to strengthen my core. My lack of core shows up in the direction of my swing.
But before I tried golf, I actully tried table tennis, aka, ping pong. I went to the Gilbert Table Tennis Center, located in the basement of the Westside Jewish Community Center. It’s a legit center with instructors who worked with pros and athletes aspiring to make it to the Olympics And me. When you play REAL table tennis, your instinct, hand-eye coordination, and ability to think and move very, very quickly must all work together at every second to return that small, white ball to the other side, and hopefully hit the edge of the table. And just like golf, balance helps to do it right.
And today, I tried archery. The first thing I learned was that there were different styles of archery and bows. Second, the bow is heavy. Because the bow is heavy, it helps to have upper body strength, which I do not have. Third, the C word, which I also do not have. Stating the obvious, but strong core helps hit the target.
I know, I know. You all know this and it’s common sense and I’m late to the game. As I grow older, I’m beginning to understand the importance of the basics– eating right, exercising, strengthening my core. I’m sharing this in case there were others like me who underestimate the power of core or are in denial.
*This got me thinking: Perhaps some girls– or kids, in general– are not necessarily made for team sports. For me, individual sports were better because I didn’t feel as self conscious when I was trying them out. It was Pilar v. Pilar, with the goal of getting better each time.