Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gaining an Edge—The Eyes Have It

   It’s standard advice to anyone throwing or shooting a ball to “focus on the target.” Same goes for making a pass. But in sports where you’re defended, you often need to hide your intention. You need to make your opponent think one thing, while you do another.

You're Being Watched!

Good defenders anticipate what action their offensive counterpart is about to take. They do this by understanding the situation, options available, and the most likely choice. But they also anticipate by observing their opponent’s behavior. One of the main behavioral clues is where the offensive player is looking.

So how do you counteract your defender's attempts to anticipate your next move?

Don't Stare at Your Target

Lesser players tend to stare at their target. When passing a ball, for example, they look at their teammate well before they make the pass. Their intention is obvious. As players from past generations would say, “They telegraph their pass.”

So how do you make an accurate pass or throw without directly looking at your teammate?

Set Up the Scene

You usually do look at your target—but only for a split second immediately before the pass or throw. By using your peripheral vision (or taking a quick glance to the opposite side), you know where your teammates are located. You set up the scene in your mind’s eye. If your teammates are moving, you then anticipate where they will be when you make the pass or throw. This is the process an experienced player uses when he or she makes a “no-look” pass. (But again, in most instances, you should look at your target just before you act.)

Gain Advantage with Your Eyes

As you become a better player, use your eyes to deceive your opponents.
► The best NFL quarter­backs like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are masters of “looking off” safeties on long passes.
“Look off” a defender prior to making a pass. Look first toward a teammate other than the one to whom you will make the pass. Similar to a physical fake (i.e. faking the actual pass), this deception is effective against defenders who depend on observation and anticipation.

Copyright © 2013 Jeffrey S. Rhoads. All Rights Reserved

If you enjoyed this article, you may like my book:
The Joy of Youth Sports: Creating the best youth sports experience for your child (Amazon $8.95)

(Kindle Edition $2.99)

Copyright 2009-2012 Jeffrey S. Rhoads; All Rights Reserved


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