I’ve always felt like the most average person on the planet. I’ve tried my hand at loads of stuff over the years, but I’ve never been able to find my hidden talent. I’ve tried drawing (other than a half-decent Darth Maul when I was 12, no joy there), drumming (using both hands and your foot? Madness), fencing (let’s not go there) and fishing (eight sessions, zero catches). I couldn’t even make the A team at football and my dad was the manager. So, as you can tell, bang-average (or worse) is pretty much where I’m at.
Then lockdown happened. Suddenly there were more hours in the day than I knew what to do with – a uniquely rare opportunity to get really good at something. So, naturally, I spent this time watching Louis Theroux documentaries and eating Kettle Chips by the bag. Then it hit me: I could greedily exploit Time Out’s partnerships in the world of celeb-studded online courses to make myself talented. After all, if Gordon Ramsay can’t teach me to cook, what hope is there? So, this is it. Through the power of MasterClass, I’m going to get good at one thing a week. Well, I’ll try at least.
First up: Steph Curry teaches basketball
On the off chance you couldn’t tell from the painfully humiliating pictures, basketball is not my natural sport. In fact, Steph Curry (who’s considered to be one of the greatest shooters of all time, fyi) and I are, shockingly, on opposite ends of the physically gifted spectrum. But I figured I should go straight in with something I’ve never really attempted before (bar a few state-mandated layup attempts in PE), so here we are – my first lesson.
The course: After watching the introductory montage of Steph dribbling two basketballs and nailing some outrageous shots, I am pumped. This is the guy. The guy who’s going to turn me into a passable basketball player in just a few short videos. It starts out pretty simple, but as the drills get more complex, I quickly realise you’re supposed to put in a fair amount of practice in-between lessons. At one point Curry says, ‘Think about doing it five times a week for ten months.’ Sorry pal, I only have until Friday. So screw that – let’s play.
The game: I’m using the word ‘play’ loosely. It’s me and a few housemates on a concrete court that’s also a five-a-side pitch. But it’s more than enough to determine if I’m suddenly able to play basketball with something resembling skill. I step up to the faded yellow line, frantically replaying the videos in my head, and let it fly. The ball sails straight through the hoop. And again. I make five in a row. I’ve done it. I feel like Michael Jordan winning his third consecutive championship. Then we start playing some three-on-three and I come crashing back down to earth. With actual people in the way, there’s no time to think about what I’ve learned and I’m like a fish out of water. My dribbling is more akin to an infant than a basketball player, and every time I go to shoot my arms feel like limp noodles I have no control over whatsoever. My team loses. Heartbreak.
The verdict: It turns out there’s a reason NBA stars spend so much time practising: you can’t learn this game in a week. That said, Steph Curry’s tutorial took me from not being able to hit a barn door to actually making a decent number of shots, given enough time to think about what I’m doing. So I am going to attribute my car-crash of a performance in the game to a lack of practice (and stamina; I definitely need more stamina) rather than bad tuition. Can I rock up to a pickup game with confidence that I won’t humiliate myself? Absolutely not. Can I make a three-pointer without another human being within 20 metres of me? Sometimes! And for now, I’ll take that.
Next up: Daniel Negreanu teaches poker
Thank you to MasterClass for providing access to the course. You can check out all of the courses here.