The basics will make you better

My soccer-loving middle son, Levi, has been trying relentlessly to master ‘the rainbow’ with his soccer ball. It requires taking the ball from your heel and flicking it from behind you, over your body like the arc of a rainbow and landing it directly in front of you.

He tried and tried for months but couldn’t quite master it and couldn’t figure it out. He sought out help from other more experienced players and each time would get a few tips but still couldn’t put it together; that is until something very profound happened, and I think the takeaway could help you.

This past week he went to a soccer training camp that revisited the basics. It focused on the foundational aspects of the game and got him better at passing, controlling the ball, aiming and shooting.

At first, he felt like he already knew the basics and didn’t fully understand why he needed to learn them again. He gave it a chance and quickly learned that we can always improve at the basics and shouldn’t overlook them regardless of what sport or task we’re approaching.

By day four of the camp he was doing the rainbow as if he’d been able to do it for years. Now, he can do it on repeat with ease.

I’m not certain it clicked for him, but for me it did – there’s power in the basics. When we refocus on the foundational skills, we get better at everything – even the more advanced ones. He was so zoned in on the advanced skill and simply needed to scale back to basics in order to go forward.

The application for me is always fitness and food. I get clients who want to lift heavier and do all the fancy things like kipping, double-unders and handstand pushups.

All of that is great and I like the fancy stuff too, but the ageless foundational movements like squats, lunges, pushups, pullups, proper barbell technique, mobility and core strength are the most important. They are what prepare the body for more. When we get better at the basics, we get more ready for the advanced skills.

When it comes to food, we over-complicate things with macro calculating, intermittent fasting, weighing and pairing. The basics are what matter most; drinking water and eating veggies, fruits, lean meats, healthy grains and fats. Eating real food as opposed to boxed, canned and refined food is where the rainbow is.

Next time you find yourself struggling to master a more advanced skill, or trying hard to stay on track with the latest nutrition hack, try scaling back to go forward. The magic is in the basics and when we go back to them, we propel ourselves forward safer, quicker and more effectively.

It may not have clicked for him just yet, but before he moves on to his next goal – the bicycle kick – I hope it does. Before he gets too far into trying, I’ll be sure to remind him that when we get better at the easy stuff, the hard stuff becomes less hard.


This is a monthly opinion piece; Alison Brown is a local business owner, mother and published author.

Alison Brown