The 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament is getting close to its finish. As of now, eight teams remain in contention to call themselves world champions in a game played in virtually every country of the world.
This year’s tournament has been especially thrilling. Football is close to a religion in many countries, and the game’s popularity has surged even in the “soccer”-shy United States.
Because we have magic on our minds almost all of the time, we haven’t followed much of the action. Our staff is international, but there hasn’t been much trash-talk between us. We can’t help it — the things we are seeing in the magic world are just too awesome to ignore, and we have so many incredible irons in the fire.
But there are a few things about this year’s tournament that inspire our sleight of hand. It might seem counterintuitive for something played with feet to influence an art that depends a lot on our hands, but we found some important lessons that the beautiful game can teach the beautiful art of magic.
Haters point to the low scores of matches and think the sport has no excitement. Obviously, they’ve never sat down to watch a game, and understood the thrill of watching a successful defensive stand or a brilliant scoring shot.
Magic is much the same way. If we hurry through a trick and rush it past our spectators, we risk losing the impact needed for that incredible reaction we crave. The old saying of how the hand is quicker than the eye leads us to assume that speed is king in magic, but that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Slow down. Let your play develop. The perfect opportunity for maximum impact will present itself.
One of the daily Google searches we check is for “magician,” and we can’t tell you how often that terms is associated with players. We didn’t really understand why, until we watched a few highlights from the tournament. We saw top players displaying a dizzying level of proficiency moving the ball, whether they moved into position or took a shot on goal. They are always juking, dodging, faking and making other moves to make defenders think the ball is headed elsewhere.
Every move we make has to be similarly structured. We must display the same amount of proficiency, in order to keep spectators guessing about where we are going. The advantage we actual magicians have over a player on the pitch is that we get time to plan and structure everywhere we want to go, everything we want to do.
Even before Tim Howard’s record-setting performance in the U.S. loss against Belgium, we have been impressed with the efforts of keepers. Goofs happen to us, whether it’s a dropped card or a lippy spectator. Those are shots on our goal. Part of our skill as magicians is to deflect those shots on our goal. We learn how to cover a goof, how to handle a rowdy audience member, how to transition off a failed trick.
PERFECT PRACTICE TIME
The perfect time to absorb all those lessons is during a match, which runs about as long as a movie. That’s also the perfect time to practice your moves, especially the ones you’ve recently learned, and are looking to advance them to an instinctual level. Remember that practicing while your eyes are focused elsewhere is great conditioning for muscle memory — you start to feel when things are right or wrong.
FOUR POINTS is a regular feature that celebrates magicians’ favorite number by highlighting four critical bits of importance, awesomeness or otherwise. Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.