Looking for a new way to take your game to the next level? Maybe its time to improve your vision. If you could coach your eyes to capture more information, your brain to process that information better and your nervous system to make the right moves faster, just imagine how much more effective your game would be.
Doctors and coaches have developed a number of vision training drills specifically for athletes. To begin building your own vision training program, it's important to define all of the aspects of vision.
Acuity: The ability to focus on a target during position changes.
Central Field Awareness: Your eyes' aptitude to fixate on the object currently in front of you. This affects your overall game alertness.
Eye Tracking: The ability to track an object's trajectory at various speeds.
Eye/Hand or Eye/Foot Coordination: The capacity to react to visual stimuli.
Decision-Making: The ability to consistently make correct choices during high-pressure situations. This could be the difference between a win and a loss for your team.
Depth Perception: The ability to calculate the distance and speed of moving objects.
Split Attention: More commonly known as multi-tasking, this is the ability to focus on a central task while performing a secondary task simultaneously.
Vision Training Drills
All of these attributes of vision have a major impact on your overall sports performance. If you can improve one or more of them to an elite level, you'll notice a sizable jump in your performance.
Improve all the different aspects of your vision training with the following drills.
Each drill requires a partner. If you want to take your training to the next level, consider a pair of Nike Vapor Strobes, glasses made specifically to improve reaction time through a strobe effect. The lenses flicker between clear and opaque, removing visual information so your brain is forced to become more efficient with the information it receives. Perform the drills first without the eyewear, then increase the difficulty by repeating each one with the Nike Vapor Strobes, starting at a lower setting and progressing as drills becomes easier.
For this drill, you'll need a reaction ball with a shape on each face (you can draw the shapes if you need to). Take turns throwing the reaction ball with a partner. As you're catching the ball, shout the shape you see at the moment of the catch.
The Accommodation Drill
Face 90 to 180 degrees away from partner. At partner's command, jump and face him or her, while keeping hips squared.
Central Field Awareness Drill
Face toward a wall in a ready position with partner standing behind you. Have partner throw the ball off the wall. Find the ball and attempt to catch it before it makes contact with the ground. The drill should progress from easy catches to throws that force you to move laterally.
Have your partner toss three different colored balls or bean bags at the same time. While they're in the air, partner yells out one or two of the colors. Catch only the ball(s) or bag(s) your partner calls out.
Split Attention Standing Drill
For this drill, you need two partners. Start by standing in place and progress to shuffling back and forth quickly between your partners as they throw balls to you at different times.
Drill for Hand/Eye/Foot Coordination
Facing partner, throw a ball back and forth for a set distance while moving. Add to the challenge by alternating foot combinations like the shuffle, quick feet, carioca, tapioca and sideways lunge. For extra difficulty, start closer to your partner and then progress to a greater distance.
Eye Tracking Drill
In this exercise, two partners throw a ball back and forth to each other while you, standing between them and few yards back, remain perfectly still with your head straight ahead tracking the ball with only your eyes.
Depth Perception Drill
Close one eye while your partner throws a ball to you to challenge your depth perception. The Nike Vapor Strobe has a setting that lets an athlete see out of one eye with the strobe while the other eye is obstructed.