An overview of important vision skills for Soccer, broken down by position

Soccer

 

While it’s more popular in Europe than in the United States, soccer is a very well-liked sport, and while it might not seem obvious at first, there are a wide range of vision skills vital to success. As with other team sports, players in different positions may need to rely on certain vision skills more than others.

 

                                                                                                                         

    Forward                          Midfielder                              Defender                         Goal Keeper

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Forward

Forwards in soccer often claim the lion’s share of the glory, due to their position being near the opposing team’s goal. Due to this position, forwards tend to have the most opportunities to score goals on behalf of the team. This is a position that requires high levels of awareness, and quick reaction times.

Important skills for a forward include:

  • Visual reaction time: There isn’t much time to react when the ball, and a whole bunch of players, approach the forward’s position, and he’ll likely only have a single chance to make a move and score. Being able to quickly process and then react to new visual information is vital to a forward’s success.
  • Hand(foot)-eye coordination: It takes a great deal of skill to properly handle the soccer ball and get it to go where the forward wants. Improving this coordination will enable faster, more precise reactions, which is just what a forward needs to up his game.
  • Vision-balance integration: In a sport like soccer, where players are constantly in motion, and in which the feet are also the only legal means by which to handle the ball, balance is essential. Increased balance will enable a player to better maneuver across the field and make the big plays.
  • Depth perception and distance estimation: With so much going on at once, it’s vital for all soccer players, and for forwards in particular, to be able to quickly and accurately estimate the distance and position of both the ball and other players, so as to have the best chance at getting to the ball and scoring.

Midfielder

Midfielders occupy the middle of the field, and they are the bridge between the offensive and defensive lines. Midfielders tend to see the most action, and move the most, during a game, and it is vital that they are accurate passers.

Important skills for a midfielder include:

  • Hand(foot)-eye coordination: Since so much of what they do requires expert ball handling and passing abilities, any edge in coordination can make the difference.
  • Enhanced peripheral awareness: A midfielder has to be aware of all the players around him as they move up and down the field. Superior peripheral vision can be the difference-maker that enables the midfielder to get to where he is needed at the right moment.
  • Vision-balance integration: Midfielders are often in the thick of the action, and he will have to constantly and quickly maneuver while paying heed to the numerous other players around him, as well as the ball. Improved balance provides a greater ability to maneuver quickly without risking a fall that could hamper the team’s offensive or defensive efforts.
  • Dynamic visual acuity: There is constant movement in soccer, and a player needs to be able to properly track the movement of other players and the ball while he himself is often in motion. Improving one’s dynamic visual acuity provides a superior ability to keep track of everything while on the move.
Midfielder

Defender

As the name implies, a defender’s main job is to stop the opposing team’s offense and prevent them from scoring. They tend to stay nearer to their own team’s goal so as to be in position to defend. The defender’s ability to react quickly when the time comes can mean the difference between the opposing team scoring or not.

Important skills for a defender include:

  • Eye tracking and movement precision: A defender must be able to follow the flow of play as the action moves closer to his position, so he can be ready to act. Improving eye tracking will give him a better ability to follow all of the movement, so that he will be able to position himself best to help defend.
  • Enhanced peripheral awareness: Play is often at its most frenetic when it nears the goal, and defenders have to be keenly aware of not only where the opposing players are, but their own teammates as well, so they can avoid collisions and coordinate.
  • Speed of visual processing: The quicker visual information can be processed in high pressure situations, the greater the chance the defender will be able to react quickly enough to prevent the opposing team from scoring.
  • Vision balance integration: Balance is important for every player on the field, but especially for those that’ll be heavily involved in plays with a lot of other players around. In addition to simply helping to avoid falls, better balance allows for more maneuverability in key moments.

Goal Keeper

The goalkeeper has a very different job to do when compared to the other members of a soccer team. He doesn’t move much, with his area of control just being the goal itself, and his objective is to keep the opposing team from getting the ball past him and scoring a point. Being able to follow the action as it approaches, and the ability to act quickly, are essential skills for a successful goalkeeper.

Important skills for a goalkeeper include:

  • Eye tracking and movement precision: A goalkeeper must be able to follow the flow of play as the action moves closer to his position, so he can be ready to act. Improving eye tracking will give him a better ability to follow all of the movement, so that he will be able to position himself best to prevent the opposing team from scoring.
  • Visual reaction time: Especially as play nears the goal, things happen incredibly quickly. A goalkeeper needs to be able to react instantly based on visual input if he’s to prevent the ball from getting by him. Improving visual reaction time can lead to significant improvements in performance.
  • Dynamic visual acuity: While the goalkeeper doesn’t move up and down the field like many of the other players, he has to stay in motion while defending the goal, all while keeping track of the ball so he can be in position to intercept it. There’s little room for error, and any advantage in the area of tracking and reacting to the ball’s movement is extremely helpful.
  • Hand(foot)-eye coordination: More so than players at other positions, a goalkeeper needs elite levels of coordination to ensure that he can be in the right place at the right time, and make the moves to stop the ball. Since the goalkeeper is allowed to use his hands, more of the body is involved when compared to the other players, who can only use their feet to handle the ball.
Midfielder

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Dr. Ikeda

Dr. Ikeda, FCOVD, DPNAP, is a leading optometrist in the field of neuro optometric rehabilitation and developmental optometry. He has made profound contributions to the field over the years and uses these expertise to provide the highest quality of eye care to his patients. He was Past-President of the Optometric Extension Program Foundation (OEPF) and of the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association (NORA). He received the “Founding Fathers Medal” for his continued service to NORA and he was recognized as “Physician of the Year” by the Rehabilitation Nurses Society. He is a clinical associate professor of the Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry and was inducted as a Distinguished Practitioner into the National Academies of Practice (Optometry Academy).

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