Almost every high school in America has those famous Friday night football games throughout the fall. Watching professional football on T.V. is also one of the most enjoyed American pastimes on Sundays. But, partying and celebration aside, football is a tough and competitive sport. It is rather complex too. It requires players to not only be physically capable but mentally prepared.
Some players need to be better at passing, others catching, some tackling and a few at kicking. Since not all players need to have the same skills, it makes this sport unique. A small player can come on to the team and excel at being a punter when he would not be as successful as a defensive lineman.
A good football player needs to be athletic, focused, and have good vision. Yes, eyesight. It not only makes the player more competitive by being able to know what he should be doing or know what is going on around him, but it also helps in the prevention of injuries. A player can improve their vision skills by doing eye exercises, but different exercises help your eyes in different ways.
As stated before, different positions require different skills, this includes vision skills. A quarterback needs to have the greatest vision skills. He needs good depth perception, tracking, hand-eye coordination and peripheral awareness. A receiver needs to have good tracking, depth perception and peripheral awareness. Linebackers and running backs are both players who need exceptional peripheral awareness. A kicker or punter needs strong depth perception and flawless hand-eye coordination. Let’s talk more about these skills individually and what you can do to improve them.
Depth perception is the ability to judge the location of an object in relationship to its distance to other objects. For a football player, that would mean knowing how far the player is that they are throwing a ball to or where a ball is going after it has been thrown by another player. To improve depth perception, a player can try bouncing small balls (like ping pong balls) into cups spread out at different distances over the floor. This may seem extremely simple, but it really works, plus it’s super fun!
Another exercise you can try to improve depth perception is the penny drop. You’ll need a partner for this exercise, so grab a teammate to get started!
To begin, your partner stands a couple of feet in front of you and holds a penny between their index finger and thumb. They hold it out in front of them over a cup that has been placed on the floor. They move their hand randomly over the cup, sometimes slow and other times quickly. Your job is to tell them when to drop the penny so that it lands in the cup. This tests your depth perception by assessing where the cup is in relation to the penny. Add that to your pre-practice routine and you’ll be astounded by the results!
Tracking allows the player to follow the movement of the ball or other players around the field. An effective football player knows where the ball is at all times in relationship to himself and other players. An exercise you can do to make your tracking better is to sit in a dark room and have a friend shine a flashlight on the wall. Have your friend move the flashlight beam across the wall in different patterns. You should keep your head still and follow the beam of light only with your eyes. A laser pointer would work for this exercise as well, but be careful not to look directly into the light or laser beam.
Hand-eye coordination is key in almost every sport. It is the ability to match the movements of your body to meet the demands of what you are seeing. It can also be more refined. If you eye looking at a small hole and your hands need to put a smaller cylinder into the hole, you must coordinate the movement of your hands to meet the perception of what your eyes have just seen.
To improve your hand-eye coordination, you can do an exercise like bouncing a ball on a racquet. To do this, get a racquet like a ping pong or tennis racquet. Hold it so the face of the racquet faces the sky. Try to bounce the ball into the air about 12 inches high using the racquet. The goal is to increase the number of times you can bounce the ball off the face of the racquet without missing it.
Peripheral awareness is the ability to see action that is not in your direct line of sight. This skill is especially important for football players because the nature of the game includes tackles. I don’t know about you, but if it were me, I would do everything in my power to avoid the big, scary guy charging at me from the side.
It is easier to avoid tackles or lessen the blow of a tackle if you can prepare your body for the blow. Peripheral awareness is key to seeing a tackle coming your way. Almost every player on the field has to have good peripheral awareness with the exception the kicker/punter. It is a good skill for them to have, but is less necessary than for other positions.
To increase your level of peripheral awareness, try the exercise Two Ball Juggle. Exactly as it sounds, it requires you to juggle two balls. The object of the exercise is to look straight ahead at a wall while juggling the two balls back and forth between your hands. This is also a good exercise for hand-eye coordination.
Another way you can improve your vision naturally is through diet. There are several specific vitamins and minerals you should be eating to help strengthen your eyes. There are essential herbs, vitamins and minerals for healthy eyesight. If you feel like you can’t get enough of these vitamins and minerals in your natural diet, consider adding a supplement made specifically for eyes like our Ocu-Plus Formula. By adding any of these exercises to your football practice routine, you’ll substantially strengthen your eyes in a way that will make you a better football player.