The ability to keep your head up in hockey is an important attribute for any player who wants to dominate on the ice. To keep your head up means that you are always watching what is going on in front of you, rather than staring down at the puck.
To be an effective hockey stickhandler with your head up, you must master your peripheral vision so that you can watch the ice and the puck at the same time!
Peripheral vision plays a key role for every position in the game of hockey. It helps improve your awareness, passing, playmaking, defense, and ability to play with ultimate cognizance of the game.
Taking a moment to become aware of what is happening on the ice is crucial when playing a game as fast and physical as hockey. Not only do players need to know where the puck is, but they also need to know where their teammates are, where their opponents are, and where they in comparison to everything and everyone else.
It’s a lot to keep track of, and the game never takes place right in front of you, so you’re always moving. Keeping a solid awareness of your surroundings widens your field of view and gives you a better understanding of what’s going on around you.
Players that keep their heads up in hockey are more aware of their surroundings and have a better overall understanding of what’s going on in the game. This results in more plays made, as peripheral awareness on the ice allows you to seize every opportunity.
Be a Playmaker
Passing and playmaking abilities are greatly increased by good peripheral vision. Great playmakers like Sidney Crosby, Joe Thornton, and Nicklas Backstrom have the ability to see and read the game better than anyone else in the world.
These types of players are known as “playmakers”, and ultimately win games because of their ability to move the puck without looking directly at it.
They can see passing lanes that many other players cannot. They can also make “no-look” passes because they are always aware of where their teammates are, even without looking at them.
Development of peripheral vision can be a long, intensive process, but doing so will help make you a better playmaker.
Know Your Opponent's Next Move
Players with a better awareness of where their opponents are, passing lanes are, and overall defensive positioning are able to make better defensive plays. Awareness on the ice empowers you to steal more pucks, break up more passes, and cover offensive players more closely.
Defensemen with this skill can see a player breaking to the back post and cover them, rather than getting caught puck watching and getting beat.
Nothing makes coaches happier than good defensive play by an ever-aware defenseman who can read the rink.
Protect the Puck (and Yourself)
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, good peripheral vision allows you to play with your head up while skating through traffic rather than looking straight down at the ice.
While there are obvious situations in which you will need to keep your eye on the puck, being adept at playing heads-up hockey is crucial to epic puck handling skills. Even when you are watching the puck, you should be aware of your surroundings.
Looking down at the ice not only hinders your ability to see the game properly, but can also get you seriously injured.
Players with their heads down are often subject to heavy body checks from opponents, especially in open ice. This can lead to concussions and other serious injuries that you will want to avoid at all costs.
One of the first things every hockey player needs to learn is to keep their head up while playing. This cannot happen without peripheral vision, which allows players to handle the puck and receive passes without looking down.
Good peripheral vision affects almost every aspect of the game of hockey. Improving this attribute can significantly improve your overall game. You can improve your awareness, passing, defense, and more all by practicing good heads-up habits during practice. Doing so also allows you to play with your head up, which can lead to ultimate ability on the ice.
How to Improve Peripheral Vision for Hockey
So the question now is, what are the best eye exercises to improve your peripheral vision?
The best time to develop this awareness and “hockey-sense” is during practice through stickhandling handling drills and scrimmages when you are able to go a little slower and make mistakes to learn from. Over time, you’ll realize you can see more of the ice without having to look at everything.
To do this effectively, you must be able to control the puck without always looking at it. This is the primary building block to good peripheral vision on the ice.
One of the best peripheral vision training exercises is integrated into the SuperDeker Advanced Hockey Training System. Using this tool can greatly improve your peripheral vision, teaching you to play better heads-up hockey.
The SuperDeker Hockey Training Device uses patented bright flashing lights and sensors to teach you stickhandling, passing, and puck movement while keeping your head up.
The SuperDeker’s lights are easy to see in your peripheral vision, and its built-in hockey drills to keep your head up make developing this important habit easy. Using the SuperDeker with your peripheral vision trains your mind and helps you bridge the gap between heads down and heads up hockey.
The more you practice with the SuperDeker, the better you will get at stickhandling and passing while keeping your head up. These exercises are a great way to free yourself from the habit of getting stuck looking down at the puck.
Over time, you will get more comfortable keeping your eyes up, and it will become your natural way of playing.
The SuperDeker also makes practice fun! It has three built-in games that challenge and engage you while you are training. One of SuperDeker’s greatest strengths is its mobility! It’s a great off-ice trainer that can be used almost anywhere.
Players of any age or skill set can use it to improve their peripheral vision, which, in turn, will make them a better player come game day!