Every parent and coaches nightmare in football these days is for their athlete to suffer a concussion. As an eye doctor who helps patients rehabilitate from concussions affecting the visual system, I've been treating an increasing number of football players from the ages range of 8 and up. Click here to watch a TV News article on a 10 year old football player I treated with a concussion.
In 2012, the NFL started the Heads Up Program which is a initiative for their youth league, USA football, to help train young athletes to keep their head up and out of the tackle. The feeling is by keeping the head up, in control and out of the way of the tackle, there will be fewer concussions. Here is a link to watch Seattle Seahawks' Coach Pete Carroll train this technique: click here
There are several steps in the Heads Up Program. "Head up and Eyes up" are one of those steps in this training process.
If you look at many of the pictures on line and in videos of young athletes learning the heads up program, their eyes are inevitably pointing down or move down. This is because the natural instinct of the visual system is to look down to the ground during a fall to determine the safest place to land. Or, we will just chose to close our eyes as part of a "fear" mechanism in the fight and flight vision response.
In my blog today, I'd like to give you an exercise found on page 239 of my book, See To Play, which takes the "eyes up" portion of this training to a more detailed level. It can be performed daily at home. It helps athletes learn how to train the position of the eyes, known as gaze control, so that the eyes are always in the right position, which is up .
Later this year, I will be introducing my new "See To Play Gaze Stabilizer Exercise" which takes the Calendar Jump to the next level by integrating decision making. This incorporates gaze control exercising during physical activity while training the right and left sides of the brain.
My best wishes as you learn to keep your eyes up, know where to look and decrease the risk of concussions.
Calendar Jump: Page 239 of See To Play
Objective: To improve eye movement and eye scanning
Equipment: Two calendars of the same size
There is a little setup required. Place the two calendars at the same height on a wall at eye level to the athlete and so that they are four feet from each other. Each calendar should show a different month.
Instructions: The athlete stands 10 feet away from the wall and fixes her gaze on the first day of the month on the calendar on the left. She then shifts her gaze to the first day of the month on the calendar on the right, then moves to the second day on the calendar on the left, followed by the second day on the calendar on the right. She continues this back-and-forth movement all the way through all of the dates on the calendars and then starts back at the beginning.
Variations: As the athlete becomes proficient in the above exercise, begin to incorporate these variations to increase the level of difficulty. Begin at the top of the list, master that variation, and move to the next level of difficulty.
· Move the charts further apart, to five feet and eventually to about eight feet from each other.
· Bounce on a mini trampoline or jump rope.
· Use different-sized calendars, with one considerably smaller than the other.
Welcome to my blog! I hope this helps you learn a little more about me and also keeps you up to date on my fun world of sports vision.