Combine testing is right around the corner.  Think sprint mechanics, strength and conditioning is all you need to improve that 40-yard dash time?  Think again.  Seventy to ninety percent of an athlete’s sensory input is received via their eyes, making vision training key for improving and optimizing your speed.

What are NFL Scouts looking for the most? Numbers. Fast numbers – especially the 40-yard dash. Athletes spend hours enduring grueling strength and conditioning programs including sprint mechanics and footwork. Most programs, however, ignore the most crucial component of speed development by not training the visual system.

So why is vision training important? Think of the last time you were in a car.  As the driver, you are making decisions to push on the breaks, or slam on the gas pedal based on the road ahead.  Now imagine your windshield is cracked, or, dirty, or, it happens to be raining outside. The less you can see the more cautious you’re going to drive the car.

Now, think of your body as a car and your brain is like your body’s “driver”, the eyes are the windshield. If the brain doesn’t feel safe and if your eyes are providing poor information through weak eye muscles, the brain will simply not allow you to hit your top speed and will, in turn, slow you down.

Let’s take it a step further. In a game every millisecond matters.  Our reaction is based on what our eyes can see and even what it cannot see. How quickly we see and process information can significantly affect how quick we will react – and really who will be first.  If we cannot see well, we simply will not react as quickly.

Let’s put the science to the test. We challenge you to time your 40-yard dash 2-3 times. Film each sprint. Then try this one drill to improve your 40 yard dash time in minutes.

The Pencil Push-Up:

  • Grab a pen
  • Stand tall and relaxed (can even do it in your sprint stance), hold tip of pen at arm’s length distance (eye level)
  • Stare at tip of pen and bring in towards the bridge of your nose slowly
  • Make sure you can see tip of pen without object splitting
  • Then return to original position slowly with the same speed
  • Shoot for 10 quality reps
  • Now run your forty for a third or fourth time, and film it. Take note of any changes that take place whether you’ve gotten faster, or, if your coordination and fluidity of movement has increased. Repeat in any sport-specific position.

    Trust The Science now?