InGoal Magazine May 2016 Issue : Page 81

FOUR TYPES OF VISION TASKS: CONVERGING ON AN OBJECT COMING TOWARDS THE EYES, DIVERGING TO SEE A BIGGER, BROADER PICTURE, ACCOMMODATION FOR VERTICAL MOVEMENT, AND TRACKING A VARIETY OF MOVEMENT PATTERNS ready there are still techniques to make you better.” The old cliche about keeping your eye on the puck is true, but the reality is some athletes have undiagnosed vision deficiencies that don’t allow it to happen prop-erly or naturally. In many cases it’s easy for a vi-sion specialist to quickly spot the problem. Josh Tucker, who is the owner and head trainer at Envision Sports in Minnesota, remembers a visit from a European goalie playing in the North American Hockey League. Tucker watched how his eyes moved as he was asked to follow an object moving in specific patterns. “Ninety seconds into the assess-ment I said ‘you have all kinds of stuff going on when you look low right,’ and right away he says ‘ah, low blocker,’” Tucker recalled. “His teammate said it was the only place they could beat him and when we watched his track-ing every time he looked low and to the right his eyes would jump and skip over a part of the range of motion.” Tucker, who has seen some eyes jump like “lottery balls bouncing around” while trying to track an ob-ject moving in straight lines, was able to design a program to fix that hitch. But his work with goalies in the college and pro ranks goes from fixing glitch-es to enhancing vision with a long list of drills and tools, including light boards and specialty strobe or 3D glasses. “Vision training just made sense to me when I learn-ed it was available,” said Zane MacIntyre, a first year pro playing for the Boston Bruins farm team in the American Hockey League, and Envision Sports client. “Vision is a goalie’s most important tool. It isn’t about being the biggest or strongest for us. I’ve seen great improvements in my game after working on my vision.” For some, like the European goalie in the NAHL, it’s about fixing a weakness on one side or the other. Goalies with strong convergent vision already can train their divergent skills to increase peripheral awareness, while those already able to see the big picture may need to improve their convergent abil-ities in order to watch the puck all the way into their body or equipment. One NCAA goalie predicted his results when he said he sees everything peripherally but struggles to watch the puck into his glove. When Tucker tested him, sure enough his divergence scores were “off the charts,” but his convergence results were really low. “So no matter how hard he tried to focus on watch-ing the puck into his body his eyes weren’t geared to keep up with it,” Tucker said. “Our role is to give them the visual tools they need.” Best of all, added Tucker, the results are all “quanti-fiable and measurable.” In some cases, it changed a goalie’s style because they are no longer compensat-ing for a vision deficiency. “I’ve always based my game on reacting, so working on my eyes in college fed into my playing style,” said Adam Wilcox, a Tampa Bay Lightning prospect who also trains with Tucker, MacIntyre and Robinson at Envision Sports in Minnesota. “It got easier to pick up the puck off the stick and track it all the way in. It has also helped me a great deal adjusting to the pro-fessional game as the game gets faster and as I work to incorporate more blocking into my game. I get a lot of confidence knowing my eyes can keep up with the speed of the game.” Even if it turns a few heads and raises a few eye-brows in the locker room. “The guys on my team wonder what the hell I am do-ing every day because I will sit there for 15 minutes in the training room doing my eye exercises,” Robin-son said. “It’s especially funny when you go to a new team and no one has seen it before and everyone is like, ‘what the hell is the goalie doing sitting with sun INGOALMAG.COM / 81

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