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Rugby Tip of the Month – Better Hand Eye Coordination = Better Rugby Skills

Photo credit: ESPN

It is no wonder that hand-eye coordination is a huge skill when it comes to the top rugby performers. Being able to catch, pass, kick, tackle and more all require a strong ability to connect what you are seeing to what you want to do! Here are some great ways to improve your hand-eye coordination at home which will translate into some amazing gains on the pitch!

#1 Play Catch

To improve central vision, start by tossing a tennis ball against a wall and practicing catching it with one hand, and then the other. Playing a fast-paced game of catch with a partner can be a great way to boost eye-hand skills, too.

Take it to the pro level by using several balls at once, and put a small dot of color, or a letter or number, on each. Pick up the balls at random and toss them one after another. As they’re coming back toward you, try to pick out which ball is which.

You can also use catch to improve your peripheral vision. Instead of tossing balls directly at you, your partner should throw them overhead or slightly to your left or right. You’ll miss a lot at first, but as your brain adapts, you’ll get faster.

#2 Exercise Your Eyes

Another important part of eye-hand coordination is the ability to switch your focus quickly between things close to you (like a defender bearing down on you) and far away (like fielding a high deep kick). And you can actually improve this skill by spending a few of minutes per day on a simple near-far drill, says Josh Sandell, DC, a sports medicine specialist and conditioning coach.

Take two similarly-sized, detailed objects—like playing cards, book covers, or magazines—and place one about 18 inches away from you and the other about 10 feet away. Focus on the nearer object for five seconds, studying as many details as you can, then switch to the far object. Switch back and forth for a minute or two, each time trying to notice new details.

#3 Stay Conscious While You Play

Eye-hand coordination probably isn’t something you think about consciously when you head out for a pick-up game or a workout, but it should be, says Sandell. He cites a well-known study about basketball players who improved their free-throw percentage by 22 percent by using a “quiet eye” technique – essentially, focusing on the hoop’s front rim for at least one second before shooting.

“This kind of focus can be incorporated during any form of athletic movement, but it’s got to be conscious—at least at first, until it becomes second-nature and you don’t realize you’re doing it,” says Sandell.

Bottom line: Eye-hand coordination may seem like something you’re either born with or not, but it can also be a learned skill. For more sport-specific drills and suggestions based on your current abilities, ask your eye doctor or a sports vision specialist. (You can find one using the American Optometric Association’s advanced doctor search.)

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