You probably know by now that I'm a great fan of netball. In recent years I have indulged this by supporting the Melbourne Phoenix as a member and watching as many of their games as possible.
However, once upon a time I played. I used to play every week. But then half the netball team got pregnant and I was keen for a break, so I stopped. I haven't really missed it (although the decrease in exercise had detrimental side effects). In fact, I hadn't played netball in around four years . . . until tonight.
And tonight I relearned something. Watching professionals play netball is NOT the same as playing it yourself.
In the four years since I stopped playing, I have forgotten how to catch the ball. Throwing it also proved a challenge. I spent the entire game (filling in for a team that used to be the dreaded foe) running around like one of those three-year-olds you see at a ballet concert: full of enthusiasm, but about half a bar out of time, and skipping in random directions. That was me trying to play netball.
It took a lot of persuasion by my friend for me to agree to fill in tonight. But having dropped 17kg (OK I've said it) and bought new netball runners on the weekend, I thought I'd give it a go. Good exercise, I told myself. Maybe you're ready.
I was so not ready. My mind was willing, but my body just would not follow. Too slow. Too out of practice. Too uncoordinated! (Plus playing an unfamiliar position.) I seriously embarrassed myself. I dropped perfectly simple catches. Towards the end of the game I tripped over my feet and sprawled on the ground. From the moment the first whistle sounded, I wished the game would end.
On the plus side, I did get the best workout I've done in four years. I expected it to be very tough physically (because as a general rule I do not run) and it was -- but not unbearably so. That side of it I could deal with.
But, wanting to play like a Phoenix player and instead mimicking a three-year-old? That I found very hard to deal with. Perhaps the skills would come back to some extent with time (not that I ever played like a Phoenix player -- just to be clear!). But I really don't think I could bear the agony and humiliation of the interim.