Peripheral vision is essential for athletes in all sports since it allows you to detect movement without moving your head. Some of the greatest athletes ever, like Wayne Gretzky and Magic Johnson, had incredible peripheral vision, which allowed them to make no-look passes and better see the game all around them.
Technically, peripheral vision allows you to detect objects just outside your central vision. This may not seem like much, but peripheral vision is actually a large part of your sight. Take reading for example. When you scan a page, your central vision focuses on one word at a time. However, your peripheral vision allows you to see the page and the area around what you are reading.
Imagine if you were on the field and could only focus on the ball or one specific opponent. It would be nearly impossible to be effective at your position. Peripheral vision is particularly important for tracking a ball or puck and for making split-second decisions at high speed.
Fortunately, this skill can be improved. The drill below won't improve your vision itself, but it will enhance your reaction and response time to movements outside your central vision.
Peripheral Vision Reaction Drill
Equipment: Tennis ball
- Stand facing a wall approximately two feet away
- Look at a spot on the wall just above eye level
- Throw the ball against the wall, track it with your peripheral vision and catch it with your other hand
- Throw the ball back and forth for specified time
Sets/Duration: 3-5x30 seconds
For an additional challenge, have a partner stand behind you and toss the ball in an unpredictable pattern.
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