One of the most important sports vision skills every athlete needs to have is eye-hand coordination. The first step to improving this visual skill is visiting your optometrist to make sure you have at least 20/20 visual acuity or better. Having good eyesight is key for any sport because it helps reduce reaction time. The optometrists at Bellaire Family Eye Care will recommend glasses or contacts if needed. They can also provide prescription eye protection which is important for preventing athletic eye injuries.
To improve eye-hand coordination, you will need to work on strengthening the following sports vision skills:
· Central & peripheral vision
· Reaction speed and accuracy
These areas help enhance the neuromuscular pathways between your reflexes, eyes and brain, allowing you to react with speed and accuracy without having to think about what is happening.
In addition to the sports vision training at Xtreme Vision with our certified trainers, we recommend all of our athletes practice these eye-hand coordination drills between sports performance training sessions at our office.
1. Eye Exercises for Switching Focus
It is important to be able to switch focus quickly between close and faraway objects for good hand-eye coordination and quicker reaction times. The following near-far drills can be practiced daily at home.
Grab two similarly sized objects and place one about 10 ft away and the other object about 1-2 ft away. Focus on the farthest object for 5 seconds, trying to notice as many different details as possible. Then switch to focusing on the closest object for another 5 seconds, studying the details of that one as well. Switch between the two objects for 2 minutes total while trying to notice new things about each object each time you switch (every 5 seconds).
Hint: We recommend using objects that are detailed, such as a magazine, shoes, etc, to give you different areas to focus on and many details to notice.
To improve side to side focusing skills, do the same exercise as above, but place the objects to your left and right.
2. Juggling to Improve Peripheral Vision
To improve your peripheral vision, juggling is a great skill to learn and practice. Because your eyes focus on where the balls cross in the air, your brain has to make the decisions on where your hands should be without looking at them. This helps strengthen the pathways between your eyes and reflexes.
During sports vision training sessions, our sports vision trainers will add in more distractions depending on the weaker visual areas discovered during the sports vision assessment and what sport the athlete plays. These distractions help simulated the on-field situations each athlete experiences, which helps improve sports vision skills specific to the athletes needs and allows them to focus on the game.
3. Slow Down the Game with Catch
In addition to developing better peripheral vision, improving central vision is important for every athlete. Even if you aren’t a baseball or softball player, practicing playing catch can help train your eyes to pick up details faster which can help slow down the game and help improve decision making on the field.
To enhance your central vision, throw a tennis ball against a wall while switching hands each time you catch it. Take it to the next level, by adding a second ball and put a different letter (i.e. A or B) on each ball. As you are tossing the balls, one after another, try to pick out which ball is which as you are trying to catch them.
Another central vision drill you can practice is a fast-paced game of catch with a friend or teammate. To improve your peripheral vision during catch, have your partner throw the ball to the sides or above you instead of directly to you. Your reaction time, reaction accuracy and coordination will get faster as your brain adapts so keep practicing.
Before a competition or game, most athletes are nervous or stressed. Finding ways to calm down before your athletic performance can help improve your coordination. Whether you practice deep breathing or do the same stretching routine, finding ways to decrease stress can help improve performance and help you focus on the game.
All of these drills also help prevent athletic injuries, such as concussions or broken bones, which can ruin your season or end your athletic career. Sports vision training helps take your game to the next level while also helping prevent common sports injuries. For example, a baseball or softball player can react faster to a ball heading straight for their head and a volleyball play can react faster to block a ball spiked across the net.
If you have already had a head injury (most athletes have), it is important to receive rehabilitative neuro-visual therapy and then start sports vision training since your sports visual skills are likely to be negatively affected by the head injury.
No matter your sport, improving eye-hand coordination through sports vision training with Dr. Voss or Dr. Moore and our certified sports vision trainers gives you an edge above your competition and helps prevent injuries. Schedule your sports vision assessment today!