Vision training is something all lacrosse goalies should incorporate into their training regiment.
Training and improving your eye sight and vision is absolutely doable and will help you become a better lacrosse goalie.
In my quest to understand vision training techniques I spoke with Dr. Robert Buonfiglio, a sports vision specialist based out of Boston which means he definitely puts an r in the word “idea”.
He works with a lot of goalies and professional athletes in his offices and on the podcast he discussed a lot of really advanced high end training devices they use.
As you can imagine most goalies (and goalie Moms/Dads) were not too eager to buy a $5000 machine to train their vision so afterwards, Dr. Buonfiglio made the Lax Goalie Rat community a video with some simple vision training drills that goalies can do at home with minimal equipment.
Here are the drills to help lax goalies improve their vision.
A brock string is nothing more than a long piece of string with a some balls or beads attached to it. The balls have a hole drilled through the center so they can be slid up and down the string.
The brock string offers instant feedback to the goalie if their eyes are working together to focus on an object at various distances. In doing this exercise we’re improving the ability of the eyes to work together, especially when looking at close objects.
Attach one end of the brock string to the wall and the hold the other end up to your nose. The balls are spaced out equidistant.
First focus your vision on the farthest ball away from you. Then switch your focus to the next closest ball.
Continue doing this until you have your focus on the closest ball.
The focus should be on where the string enters the ball.
Once you reach the bead closest to you, work your way back out. Hold your focus on each bead for about 5 seconds before moving on. Really focus. The other beads should appear blurry or even split/multiply.
Gradually increase the speed of your eye movements jumping from bead to bead.
For variation you can also do the exercises with the string angled up or down, and left and right. This mimics the angles us goalies will see shots from.
Here’s a few other guidelines for this exercise:
Begin performing this exercise for 30 seconds, gradually increasing to 2 minutes, 3 times per day
Exercise should NOT provoke a headache or increase an existing headache
Exercises may provoke mild dizziness or nausea. Symptoms should not exceed a level 5 on a 0 – 10 scale where 10 is severe dizziness/nausea
Hart Chart Training
For this drill we post an eye chart with numbers and letters on the wall about 10 feet away. We then have the same eye chart as a small card that we hold up in front of our face.
The goalie will read off the chart left to right, alternating between looking at the chart on the wall and the chart in your hand.
For example, first letter “Y” I read off the wall. Second letter “L” I read on the chart in my hand. Third “4” I read off the wall.
When you switch back and forth on the different eye charts we’re working on the eye’s ability to quickly focus. You’re also working the ability to detect a small target both up close and far away.
To alternate we can also read right to left, from bottom up, etc. We can also back up further away from the wall so those letters seem a lot of smaller.
Peripheral awareness is one of the most critical skills in sports. It enables you to see what is in front you, while still seeing what is around you.
This skill will help lacrosse goalies track the ball. This skill also helps with the “read and beat ’em” technique where the goalie can keep is focus on the ball coming out the stick while still being able to read a shooter’s body language with the peripherals.
For this exercise we use a special chart designed for training peripheral vision.
The goalie will stand close to the chart and maintain the focus on the X right in the middle. You will then read the letters around the X.
You can start with the letters closest to the X and go clockwise. Then move to next set of letters further from X and again go clockwise.
Remember keep your focus on the center X. Fixate on that X.
Couple variations: you can read out (or find) the letters in alphabetical order (or reverse alphabetical order) or find the letters in your name.
Here are a few printable charts (right click, save as):
This one has objects instead of letters:
Here’s one of the fun (and expensive) toys Dr. Buonfiglio has in his office. It’s called the SVT (Sports Vision Training) board.
Different circles light up and the goalie taps those circles as quick as possible. The device tracks data too so you can see how your reaction time is gradually improving.
This one isn’t to do at home since it requires the expensive SVT board but there are iPad/iPhone apps that replicate this type of training.
Lacrosse is my passion! The game has given me so much and this blog is my way of giving back to the lax community. Specifically the most bad a$$ part of that community - the goalies! After learning to play goalie from scratch, I wanted to create a site where I could share what I learned with others so they too can become champions in the crease and in life. Learn more about Coach Damon.