“Keep your eye on the ball” is incomplete advice.
You can look at the incoming missile
and wait for it to smack into your chest
and you can fixate on the rotation of the stitching
while you think about your hands
and every single time they have failed you
and you can wince as it sails past the point
where you could have gentled it into the hollow of your glove
and think of yourself as “not an athlete” and clumsy and small and weak
and too much of one thing and not enough of another
to have reached out and let it find its mark.
Instead, what we should say is:
Keep your eye on the ball
and keep your brain on it, too.
Your hands will take care of their part
if you stay out of their way.
Train your eye on the arc toward you and trust
that your body has the motion stitched into its very makeup.
This is just a little game for when you need to remember
you are not a prey animal,
timorous and skittering around the edges for safety.
You are a hunter, keen eyes and clever hands,
apex predator, keystone species, steward of this place.
Follow the motion and know where it’s going to go next.
Put your hand out and snatch what is yours out of the air.