Jump to it!

You can improve your coordination by doing simple exercises. We show you how.
By BETINA LOUW for YOU Pulse magazine

Some people are naturally agile and fast. Others aren’t – they seem clumsy when it comes to jumping, catching, gripping, sidestepping or dancing. It’s as if their hands and feet simply won’t do what their brain tells them to.

The good news is whether you’re lead-footed or as agile as a Bryan Habana, your coordination and agility will improve if you do these five exercises three times a week. You’ll start seeing the difference after a month (even sooner if you exercise more often), says biokineticist Pea Blaauw, who designed the exercises.

1. Bouncing a ball
Bounce a ball up and down with the flat side of your hand or in front of you from one hand to the floor, then across to the other hand. Those with poor coordination can use a bigger ball.

For a more advanced variation, use a smaller ball and bounce it faster. Beginners should do the exercise for as long as they can keep it up. Once you’ve mastered it, try doing it 100 times without stopping.

2. Pattern jumping
Draw three soccer ball-sized circles on the ground or just imagine them. Jump from one circle to the other on one leg, side to side and forwards, always trying to land in the centre of each circle. Repeat using the other leg.

Don’t make the distance between your shapes too big or the exercise will become too difficult to do correctly.

Do this for 30 seconds at a time and repeat three to five times if you’re a beginner. Work up to a set of 10.

3. Knee-hand crossover
Stand up straight. Lift your left knee to the left side of your chest. At the same time move your right hand from above your shoulder to your left knee. Touch your knee with your palm. Use big movements and try to keep your balance. Repeat using your right leg and left arm.

A beginner should do two sets of 10 using each leg. Once you’ve mastered the exercise, increase your speed and do two sets of 20 using each leg.

4. Ladder jump
Draw a five-rung ladder on the ground. Jump from one foot to the other between the rungs, making the jumps small and fast. You can also jump crosswise and in various patterns. Try to jump as accurately as possible so you land in the centre of a block every time.

A beginner can do two sets of 20 and gradually increase the number and speed.

5. Lunge and lift
Place one foot a little in front of the other, keeping both knees bent and your weight on your front foot. Keep your back leg bent and stand in a lunge position. Move your back leg forward so your knee is in front of your chest and your toes point to the floor.

Keep this position for one count and balance on the other leg. Concentrate on keeping your balance so you move sideways as little as possible. Return to your original position. Repeat with the other leg.

For a more difficult variation speed up the tempo and bring the opposite elbow to your knee while it’s in front of your chest.

A beginner can do two sets of 10 with each leg, increasing gradually.

(This is an edited version of a story that originally appeared in YOU Pulse / Huisgenoot-POLS magazine, Winter 2008. Buy the latest copy, on newsstands now, for more fascinating stories from the world of health and wellness.)

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