How To Improve Coordination As An Adult (And Why You Should)

We all know that person who constantly trips over their own feet, drops something at least once a day and has never successfully learned to use chopsticks. But it’s possible to improve coordination as an adult, and get better at these things. Wouldn’t be great to stop tripping over air?

If you happen to be that person, there’s a good chance you’ve been the butt of many of your friends and family’s jokes. You’ve probably learned to laugh along with them – after all, what else can you do? You’ve accepted your fate as the Mr. Bean of the group and have long acknowledged that it’s not something you can change.

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For those of us who are on the uncoordinated side, we tend to stop trying after years of being picked last for team sports teaches us that we’re just “not a sports person“. For the most part, we’re able to get away with it as adults. After all, sitting at a desk all day doesn’t exactly require a lot of coordination. Well, that is, until someone from the office decides it’s an awesome idea to play a game of volleyball as a team bonding exercise and you’re forced to consider faking your own death to get out of it.

By buying into our own narrative that we’re doomed to an eternity of being uncoordinated, we’re doing ourselves a serious disservice. The thing is, physical determination isn’t fixed. Sure, we develop most of our physical skills when we’re children, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep improving our coordination as adults. It’s definitely something worth doing.

Why you should improve your coordination as an adult

We recently wrote about a study from Atlassian, which showed that 95% of respondents who had played team sports as children felt it had improved their leadership skills as adults. That alone shows that confidence in your physical abilities has a knock-on effect on other aspects of your life.

 “When you are comfortable with your body and know its strength and abilities, this comes through in your confidence.”

Natalie Wise, a psychotherapist with a background as a personal trainer agrees. “There is a definite link between good coordination skills and confidence,” she says. “When you are comfortable with your body and know its strength and abilities, this comes through in your confidence.”

She elaborates that understanding your body and its capacity adds another dimension to your growth in character and improved mental wellbeing.

“The internal system which controls your physiology is linked to the brain, which controls the stress hormones and nervous system,” she explains. “So, if you are more at home in your body, your brain and mental wellness will be in a better state.”

Natalie also points out being physically uncoordinated can lead people to feel as though they are not in control of their body, which can negatively impact self-esteem.

“When our actions do not correlate with our needs , it can cause a deregulation in the system and in our everyday lives,” Natalie says. “Small tasks become more tedious and the individual may become nervous about doing certain sports or physical activities.”

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Research also shows that improving your coordination can improve your concentration, and gym performance, as being coordinated allows you to perform movements smoother, faster and more efficiently. Plus, it reduces your risk of injury.

So, it’s safe to say that even if you don’t plan on becoming a professional athlete, your coordination is definitely something that deserves your attention. But how do you go about working on it?

How to improve coordination as an adult

#1 Sign up for dance class

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Yes, the thought of having to keep up with choreography can be terrifying for someone who is physically challenged, especially if you’re also on the introverted side. But once you push through that initial discomfort, it’s so worth it. Most dance moves require you to move several parts of your body at the same time and research shows this activates four different parts of the brain that are linked to coordination and motor planning and control.

I can personally vouch for the benefits. The first time I went to my dance class, I was the worst person in the class — as I suspected. But I genuinely enjoyed it, so I kept coming back.

A year and a half on, I’m still not the best dancer in my class but I can keep up with the choreography and timing. And I’ve definitely noticed a knock-on effect in other areas in my life. Not only do I now pick up new physical skills faster, but it gives me confidence that I can achieve whatever I put my mind to.

#2 Play team sports

You didn’t think we could write an article about improving your coordination and not mention team sports, right? Most sports involve the coordinated movement of several parts of the body at the same time. So, the more you do it, the stronger the neural connections related to these activities gets and the better you become at them. Tennis is an especially good option as it involves crossing over the left and right side of the body, and therefore, the brain.

Our advice? Don’t take it too seriously. The more you overthink it, the more you psyche yourself out which can negatively impact your abilities. Who knows, you may actually enjoy it and meet some awesome people doing it! 

#3 Do mobility drills

Much like learning a new language or instrument, the more you practice coordination, the more quickly you’re going to improve. A really effective way to boost your hand-eye coordination is to make a habit of practicing drills once a week. You can find some simple ones here.

#4 Play video games

Yep, you read that correctly. Getting your Crash Bandicoot or Assassin’s Creed on can make you more coordination IRL.  A study from the University of Toronto found that people who regularly play video games have better hand-eye coordination and are more easily able to learn new sensorimotor tasks.

While you’re on a roll with self-improvement, think about these promises to make to yourself before you turn 30.

Emma Norris is a Sydney-based freelance writer and the owner of copywriting business, contentinthecity.com and lifestyle blog, agirlinprogress.com. When she’s not playing with words, she’s either doing pushups or stuffing her face with pizza. You can follow her on Instagram @emmajanenorris.

Main image: Mr Bean / Tiger Aspect Productions