Are You a Klutz? Learn the Secrets Of Hand-Foot Coordination

Wednesday, September 27, 2006 - 9:13am

By Michele Silence, MA

Every aerobic class has a few students who seem to be stumbling around. Dance classes too. In fact, in any movement activity you’ll be able to spot at least one person who doesn’t "get it”. The class is going left, they’re going right. The hands and feet don’t coordinate well. This lack of coordination is so visible it’s almost embarrassing. What’s happening? If this sounds like you, what can you do? Will you ever be on the correct foot? Is it in your genes or is it learned?

Coordination: Practice makes perfect

Plain and simple—it takes practice. Some people are naturally more gifted at coordination than others for a number of reasons. Some performed coordinated movements early in life by playing sports, dancing or doing some other active games. Others have natural athletic ability. Coordination just comes easily for them. And, practicing the movements over and over again train the muscles in the body to remember the action better than the mind.

If you’re one who is lacking in coordination, don’t fret. You will improve if you practice enough. With any new skill it takes time. Keep your chin up and keep trying. If you get frustrated you’ll be tempted to quit before you have a chance to get better. That just assures you never improve or will have to start the learning process all over again when you go back to it at a later date.

Think about the first time you rode a bike. You didn’t just get on and ride. You had to learn how to get on the bike, start peddling, and stop. Then you had to actually balance to ride. Turning and controlling it came later along with speed.

Stages of coordination development

All movement activities share the same sequence of stages. First, you learn the basics. Once you’ve got the basics, you improve your technique. As it becomes easier you become more proficient at it. Eventually, you can go through the moves quickly and precisely. There’s no way to bypass this learning curve.

Keep in mind if you never did any type of hand/eye or foot/eye coordinated activity growing up, it will be more difficult to pick it up now. You’ll have to go through all the learning stages just as if you were a child again. Think about watching an adult try to bounce a ball who has not had much experience at it. They look as stiff and uncomfortable as a child because developmentally they are.

Focus on the improvements in your coordination and keep trying!

So, take it slow. Don’t worry about whether you’re doing the movements "right.” Instead, congratulate yourself that you’re slowly improving your skill. There are far too many people who do not make the effort to move at all. Pride yourself on the fact that you’re trying and aim to focus on other more desirable things—like the music in class and the sights you see outdoors, or gain motivation from watching another students in class. You will improve slowly but surely, depending upon how much time and effort you put in. And, it really doesn’t matter in the long run. What matters is that you’ve moved your body enough to keep it healthy.