When there's more to sports than meets the eye: improving hand eye coordination in sports

Body training is a natural and daily practice for a sportsman. Indeed, many different kinds of workout sprout every day, with some geared to or inspired by specific sports performances. However, body eye coordination workouts, or better for some sports, hand eye coordination workouts, are seldom mentioned. Yet for most athletes, hand eye coordination’s development is of the utmost importance, in order to achieve excellent results.

The world of sport can offer many examples. Think about a footballer running from one side of the field to another avoiding other players; or else, about a rugby player passing the ball to a partner; or even when a boxer dodges a direct hit. In all these cases, and in many others, body eye coordination is the first ally that helps sportsmen.

Mobility and coordination
Analysing and understanding what are the benchmarks and how to train visual skills and hand eye coordination in sports, in some cases even with the use of specific body or hand eye exercises, will bring a significant increase in sports performance.

What are the main visual skills in sport?

The main visual skills that a sportsman needs to take into account are:

  • Perception of dynamic depth, which involves both the ability of the person to move easily in three-dimensional space and to assess the distance of objects. In sports, it is in particular the binocular vision (i.e. the use of both eyes) that makes the difference. Calculating the timing for anticipating one's interventions or correcting one's movements are the basis of a sportsman's activities, which is why the perception of dynamic depth is so important.
keeping a solid dynamic depth is fundamental to improve in sports
  • Dynamic visual sharpness. That is, the ability to see moving objects well, especially those in rapid movement. This aspect involves binocular coordination and several other visual skills, such as the relationship between the main object being observed and the background, peripheral perception, visualization, visual memory and all aspects of visual organization for which binocular coordination is important.
  • Saccadic movements. This is the ability to read and react quickly and accurately compared to other athletes or objects (for example, a ball fast approaching)
being coordinated is the basis of any sports technique
  • Body eye / hand eye coordination. These skills are essential for anticipating movements, reacting and initiating action. They are particularly useful in sports involving the use of equipment (e.g. balls, rackets, bows or clubs). When we have to jump, eye leg coordination is activated; when we have to dodge a blow to the chest, eye thorax coordination is activated;
  • Spatial analysis. It is necessary to keep the lucidity of controlling the peripheral space high, while the main focus is on a stimulus coming from a specific point.
You can train eye skills in many way
All these skills can be trained both with specific optometric training and during gym training.

Optometric training: pure training for your eyes

Sportsmen should devote time to train their sight, in order to improve their performance. Eye training sessions are indeed useful to one’s dynamic perception of depth eyes. In them, optometrists can have their eyes trained separately, though special care is taken not to lose the unification of sight.

In competitions, for example, when the mind focuses on other matters, the athlete does not pay particular attention to the dynamic perception of depth. That's why training this kind of training is important: so that even under stressful conditions the athlete has good dynamic perception of depth.

Eyes on the prize
Saccadic precision is the value that measures how fast our eyes move. For an athlete, these are infinitesimal fractions of a second, which make the difference between one reaction and another. Optometrists use panels on which lights are illuminated to improve saccadic precision, as well as visual memory. The results of these sessions are reduced reaction times and improved hand eye coordination.

Beyond hand eye coordination in sports: how to train coordination at the gym

While special workouts allow a substantial improvement in the dynamic perception of depth, saccadic precision and visual memory, nothing beats a specific physical workout for the improvement of body and hand eye coordination in sports.

In this sense, training in the gym is ideal, regardless of whether the objective is to improve sports-specific or generic body eye coordination. In the second case, you can do many possible exercises with the Skilltools. One of the easiest to perform, either alone or in pairs, is the ball throw, which you can perform with either the med ball or the slam ball.

You can do many exercises by yourself, all you need is the right set of tools
The exercise is as follows. Start standing with your feet open at the same width of your shoulders, with your elbows flexed and the ball in front of your chest. Keeping your back straight, flex your knees and lower your body to the squat position, with your gaze forward. Push on your heels to stand up and throw the ball up. Grab the ball to the chest and follow the movement by returning to the squat position. Repeat the exercise. Alternatively, to throwing the ball upwards, you can throw the ball against the wall, or throw it upwards towards a training partner.
Ball throw with med ball
Many other exercises with Skilltools that stimulate body and hand eye coordination are present in Skillathletic, the new high-intensity training format developed by Technogym. Among its 4 training classes, in fact, Speed and Agility, two of the four fundamental components of sports performance, are trained with coordination exercises.
Skillathletic is Technogym's ultimate training format
If the objective is instead to improve specific sports movements, then functional training is the ideal solution. In this regard, Technogym's Kinesis line allows you to perform over 200 different types of exercises, with varying levels of endurance. Many of these exercises simulate certain sports movements, which in addition to improve body and hand eye coordination, increase proprioception.
Kinesis works for the whole body

Technology in eye training

In addition to improving the reflexes of the athlete, eye training also improves stability and concentration. To meet the needs of different sports, specific devices and programs are available. Through the use of touch screens (ranging from tablets to 55-inch screens), it is possible to train saccadic precision, for example. Alternatively, through strobe glasses, you can train the eye, perceive individual frames from a moving image, and improve resistance to visual stimuli. Through 3D goggles instead, you can train peripheral vision.
working out with VR
Sometimes training devices can be very simple, as in the case of flickering LED lights, but very effective if combined with athletic gestures. Technological improvements are not only useful for hand eye coordination in sports, but can be used for the whole body eye coordination.

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