At the Investec Hockey Academy, we believe in offering players training in all areas of hockey development; not just skills development and strategy. An important aspect to bettering your game is vision training as it can mean that you take less time to make important decisions in a game.
On our courses, current Wits University Sports Scientist and lecturer, Marc Booysen teaches players and coaches about the importance of vision training and various drills in order to improve this aspect of their game.

Sports vision is defined as the ability to use the information perceived by the retina of our eyes to enhance performance. Consider the example below in understanding this concept.

Scenario: Sally, from team A, prepares to pass the ball across the space in front of you (on the opposing team B) to her teammate.

  • Your visual reaction: You recognise her intention and the opportunity to intercept the ball when it is in front of you. You have also seen that your teammate is standing open to your right.
  • Your reaction: You intercept the ball at the right time and make a quick, decisive hit to your teammate who takes the ball up field to score a goal.
    If you had taken slightly longer to perceive what Sally was doing and that your teammate was open, the scenario could have ended up differently. Sally could have succeeded in passing it to her teammate and, by the time you had realised what you could have done, Sally’s teammate is making a break with the ball behind you towards their goals.

There are different elements to sports vision that can enable a player to react quickly in any given situation.

  • Static Visual Perception – the degree of detail seen by the eyes at a distance or the ability to judge the distance of an object by its size.
  • Dynamic Visual Perception – the ability of the eyes to focus on another player in motion.
  • Eye Movements – the ability to use both eyes to focus on an object and an athlete; regardless of whether either are stationary or are in motion.

For example; a ball and a player travelling separately but near to each other.

  • Depth Perception – the ability to use both eyes to judge the distance between a player and an object (a ball).
  • Peripheral Vision – the ability to focus on an object and what is taking place around the object outside the central focus. For example; a player with the ball and the other players near to the player and to you.
  • Hand-Eye Coordination – the ability to see an opportunity and to react physically at the same time. For example; you see an open teammate within pushing distance and immediately push the ball to her.

Vision training is important to maintaining a competitive edge in an environment where players are becoming equally as skilful and physically strong. By training your eyes to be able to perform the tasks above, it may be just what you need to stand out amongst the rest and improve your team’s performance.