Hand eye coordination is fundamental to human learning, according to Psychology Today. Data from an Indiana University study shows this kind of coordination is critical in bond development between young children and their caregivers; while “gaze following” or looking in the same direction as a parent is important, the ability to see caregivers handling objects and mimic their behavior may be even more essential. The research team found that when parent and child manipulated a single object together they acted as equals, rather than one or the other taking the lead. Early development of hand eye coordination, therefore, not only correlates well with learning abilities and social communication but is the foundation of any future athleticism. Simply put — if you want to play sports, your eyes and hands must work together.
Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins has the fastest slapshot in the National Hockey League (NHL) and has for the past five years. In 2012, Chara unleashed a 108.8 mile-per-hour shot that topped anything he’d done before. For the Bruins defenseman, hand eye coordination is essential to keep his stick at just the right angle and deliver enough power and precision to send the puck blasting toward the net. For any netminder caught at the other end, this kind of coordination is even more important — not only does a goalie need to know where this rocket-puck is heading, but he needs to react instinctively. This is only possible if his hands and eyes function as a single entity, each relaying parts of the information needed to make a save.
Name any other sport, and coordination is still key. Football requires the ability to run forward, turn your head, and predict the angle of the ball and then make a perfect catch, all while being stalked by defenders from the other team. Soccer stars need foot eye coordination to make the connection between soccer balls and nets, while at the same time outplaying the goalie.
According to Men’s Health, there’s some evidence to suggest that video games can help improve hand eye coordination. Just 20 minutes of video games can significantly increase accuracy and response time thanks to the precise movements needed on-screen. Of course, sitting on the couch can only take you so far. To see greater improvement in coordination, start with something like juggling. Get three balls you can hold comfortably in one hand, then find a decent tutorial video. You’ll be terrible at first, but if you stick with it you should notice real gains in your ability to focus and follow objects. You can also try wall drills. Start with a ball you find easy to catch, and stand close to a wall and bounce the ball. Catch it with your opposite hand. When you get comfortable, back up. When this seems easy, try throwing and catching the ball with the same hand. Finally, use a smaller ball and start throwing harder. If you’d like more coordination up close, hang a ring from the ceiling (or have a friend hold it), and then throw punches through the ring at a focus mitt or punching bag 6 to 10 inches away. Start big with the ring (as big around as your waist) and get smaller as your accuracy improves.
In addition to improving hand eye coordination through physical conditioning, it’s also important to take care of your vision. Damage to either eye can significantly impact your response time and depth perception — if your vision is blurry at distance or fuzzy up close, your sports performance can suffer. One option to improve coordination is laser vision correction, which precisely reshapes your eye to improve visual acuity. The procedure is painless, takes less than 15 minutes, and boasts a short recovery time. In combination with physical drills, the technology of LASIK MD can help you strength the connection between what you see and how quickly you react.