Whether you are a weekend hockey warrior or a serious high level player consistently trapping a hockey ball can make or break your game, and for that matter a team’s game. As a coach it is frustrating to watch mistraps happen at crucial game times. Possession is everything in hockey so any training or game preparation tip that can help improve trapping is worth considering and implementing. Hence the need for vision training
Vision training can give you a competitive advantage by improving your dynamic visual acuity, hand-eye coordination, depth perception, visual tracking and reaction time. By learning how to control your vision with greater agility and efficiency, you can establish visual confidence. These skills outlined below lead to improvements on the field especially when it comes to trapping the ball.
- Dynamic visual acuity helps improve your ability to see things clearly while in motion or helps the athlete track moving objects.
- Eye-hand coordination determines how well you coordinate control of their eye movement with your hand movement. Improving this skill increases your ability to guide receiving, reaching, grasping, passing, and hitting in hockey.
- Eye focusing (also known as accommodation) refers to the strength, flexibility, and accuracy of the eye focusing system. Accommodative skills allow you to keep the ball and surrounding player movement in focus as well as quickly change focus during the game.
- Peripheral vision refers to our side vision. Improving peripheral vision helps you see your players and opponents outside of your focal point. Improving peripheral vision gives you a wider view of the field.
- Visual tracking is the ability to move our eyes from spot to spot while maintaining focus on the object we are looking. Improving visual tracking advances your reaction time, speed, and fluidity within the game.
- Visual reaction time refers to the amount of time it takes for environmental stimuli to travel from our vision system into our motor system to produce a physical reaction, i.e., receiving and making the trap. Improving visual reaction time helps you to hustle up your response time, by training the brain to work more efficiently. Keep your eye on the ball – if you can. Vision has everything to do with sports performance.
Here are a few more basic sports vision skills, some that you can practice at home or prior to a game where possible
Focus Flexibility. This is the ability to change focus from a faraway object to a near one, or vice versa. During game warm up focus on parts of the playing field at a distance then those close to you.
Peripheral Awareness. This ability involves perceiving what’s going on at either side of you without turning your head. To improve this aspect of your vision for better sports performance, try looking at a busy scene with your head turned to one side (perhaps on TV or a computer screen, or on a sidewalk). Remember to practice from the left and from the right.
Dynamic Visual Acuity. Watch the movement of the ball as other players are hitting and trapping at different speeds and distances
Depth Perception. This visual ability enables you to make spatial judgments, including how far away an object or person is from you. One test for this skill involves identifying objects or shapes that are in random, dot-patterned backgrounds. Ever try to put the cap on a pen and miss? Practicing this skill at arm’s length is one way to improve your depth perception. Another method is to hold a very small pebble or BB at arm’s length and drop it into a drinking straw.
Visual reaction time and hand eye co-ordination. Before you begin hitting and trapping warm up get a ball and bounce up and down on stick watching the ball continuously as you respond with the motor reaction. Increase the challenge by turning the stick on its edge and repeating the process. Juggling hockey balls is another useful activity.
Many of the 3D tricks performed today are excellent examples where visual input is critical.
Also this video highlights tips for ice hockey vision training which can be applied to field hockey