For a few years I have been working on integrating the showmanship and basketball skills of the Harlem Globetrotters into my 1:1 coaching work with kids and adults on autism spectrum, those with ADHD/ADD and/ or those with executive function skill deficits.
I see the ball-handling skills exhibited by professional basketball players and such show acts as the Globetrotters in-line with the holistic executive function skill use I teach and model. I also see the body positions that are required to surf and skate well pop up as we move to rhythm and beat, beat to rhythm. I love it.
As I dance before dawn early in the morning or late at night I get ideas on how to stay crisp, fresh, keep the fun present, sustain and quickly implement ‘real-time’ coach-student feedback, harness my energy, manage my students energy, and the observable positive results I am able to help trigger.
I’d be remiss to say that my basketball moves don’t flesh into my dancing. They mesh with the skateboard/ surf body maneuvers, the Tae Kwon Do actions, and the self-expressionist in me. When I was an adolescent, I would write a great deal of free verse poetry also. Written poetry is, of course, not a physical movement, but it is a self-expression movement. So I recognize patterns and emphasis, I recognize the poetry awash in my mind as I move and let myself be moved. I recognize that my dance is all the more better because of my long-term understanding and application of the value and benefit of self expression to my life.
There is one young boy whom I have coached for years who enjoys basketball very much. One of the priorities on the court is to increase the speed of his basketball actions. That is to say, his processing speed as he anticipates, predicts, plans, auto corrects, focuses and sustains his attention in a goal-directed manner. To that end, a part of my focus is to have him be an initiator of going after the ball carrier, taking/ stealing the ball (according to the rules) and scoring points. In addition, when needed, using physical maneuvers, movements and actions… like in-between the leg ball dribbling, or behind the back passing to keep the ball away from the opponent and with agility bring it to the hoop. I routinely play music while we play if he wants it.
I like to transition him from a basketball shot to a victory dance, from a ball steal to an in-between his legs bounce and a graceful ‘Kareem’ hook shot, while I am guarding him and looking to take away the ball or throw him off his game. Constant self-awareness and rapid adaptation to an ever moving basketball game requires agility of mind and body working together. This happens in a a challenging game of basketball.
So I approach the same concept of teaching him various ways to self-regulate, self-express and physically control his body better by dancing. We cross-train executive function skills. We dance to deep house music I pump from my smartphone through a portable speaker I bring to my sessions. I find music on you tube (The Sound You Need channel). When we move on the dance floor, I am pushing for more arm movements that cross the midline of his chest, more wrist and palm actions all integrated and in accord to the dancing beat. Moreover, I train him to do ‘above the head’ arm dance movements, squat twist movements, and ankle pivot actions.
I am teaching him short sequences connected to body parts and to bring these altogether, like moving the dancing shoulders while stepping in and out with alternating feet. That means we overemphasize and allow the shoulders to take the dancing lead. Likewise, doing some breakdancing puts the emphasis more on core muscles and legs. So the whole body is worked.
I am hoping I can lay the track for his mind to make basketball-dance movement connections which may take his basketball and dancing to a new level. The bigger victory of course is that he is practicing lifetime activities that require strenuous use of his executive function and hemispheric skills and they are enjoyable for him. I am seeking to set-up metacognitive triggering growth hacks much like a military leader strategizes tactically how to take a ‘position.’
My name is Coach Bill MA SpEd. I am the number one Private Special Educator in the world. I am awesome only because I make my students reach awesome heights. I pour all of myself, all my heart and soul into the success of children and adults whom I work with. Nothing is ever held back.