They say that in a blind man’s world the man with one eye is king. Well in a football game usually the players with the most vision are the most effective. You may be able to beat 5 players in a row but it means little if you don’t have the vision to see that your teammate on the wing has made a super-run and is totally unmarked in front of goal. The pitch is huge and to really stretch the other team you have to be able to move the ball around the length and width of the pitch quickly.
It is imperative for your positioning and tactical awareness that you know where everyone else is during different phases in the game. That way, you can make the best decisions based on the fact that you are up-to-date with the goings on of the game.
Improving your vision is quite true the term, just look around…..alot. At every opportunity scan the whole pitch before and after every action.
Your eyes have two main modes:
2. Peripheral vision
Focused vision is when you focus on a specific thing in your vision and almost blur everything else. In peripheral vision, you see the whole picture equally without really focusing on anything in particular. You see less detail but you can see everything else.
When you are under pressure and your fear reflexes kick in the eyes tend to go into focused tunnel vision, almost like a rabbit in the headlights. It’s a natural response except that in a game of football you have little to fear (except a Vinnie Jones Crotch-grab).
During peripheral vision fear responses lessen and you can get on with skinning your opponent or laying the killer pass. Try not to squint
So you may be wondering, how do I get into peripheral vision? And how do I make it wider?
A good exercise is to measure your peripheral vision is to:
1. Outstretch your hand pointing out your index fingers only to your sides. Slowly move them close together (forwards) while wiggling them until you can just about see both of them on the edge of your vision. Slowly widen and bring them closer together to test you far you can see around you.
2. If you drive, when stopped try looking at both mirrors at the same time while still looking at the road in front of you.
You can play with it and practise it daily to slowly widen your vision and get your brain accustomed to switching to peripheral vision at will. For more info try googling: Widening Peripheral vision
Case Study: Scanning like Fabregas
Ex-arsenal, and current Barcelona midfielder Fabregas constantly scans the field by looking over both shoulders constantly throughout the match to know what’s going on around him
Taking a picture
Sometimes you only have a split second to swing your head round before having to make a decision. It’s almost as if you have to snap a quick picture with your mind. The speed at which you process these snapshots is controlled by your brain and central nervous system. Fly over to the Vitamins & Supplements for tips on improving your CNS functions.
To improve your vision in-play look over your shoulders before calling or gesturing for the ball, then another quick look while the ball is on its way. This way your first touch and position is the most effective for the given section. Even if you don’t know exactly what you want to do, ‘have an idea in your head’ at least.
It may seem crazy to suggest you always have time to look away every time you receive a pass but as your technique develops your first touch will become second nature and it will get easier, so practice from now to save yourself work later.
Case Study: Christiano Ronaldo lights off exercise.
There is a famous YouTube video online where Ronaldo has the ball kicked towards him. Just as the ball is kicked, the lights are turned off and he is recorded to see if he is able to control the ball and score. He does this with aplomb, and explains that the position and stance of the kicker lets him know where the ball is likely to land. Of course he is a gifted individual but as you play more football you will become better at judging all types of passes, giving you that extra few milliseconds to look around.
Total Tip: When looking to receive a ball, keep your body position facing centre of pitch, adopting a side-on view. This allows you to always have a good picture of the pitch to help you decide how to first-touch the ball. If in the centre, still stand side on facing the direction where the most potential threats are.