Quarterback is one of the most demanding positions to play in all sports. It requires unparalleled preparation, training, and commitment both on and off the field. Quarterbacks are required to have adequate arm strength and athleticism, but the one area where young QB's often struggle is their processing skills. QB training and processing skills need to go hand in hand. Enhanced processing skills can be the difference between a first-round QB becoming a franchise cornerstone and not making it to a second contract.
Your cognitive processing skills are the core skills your brain uses to think, read, learn, remember, reason, and pay attention. These skills play a crucial role in processing new information in everyday life, including football. While crucial, these cognitive skills often fall down the list when looking at potential game-changers. Coaches and evaluators become enamored with measurables such as height, weight, arm strength, and speed. While all those skills are important for a QB’s success, they don’t compare to the long-term success cognitive processing skills bring. If these cognitive skills are so important, what can QB’s do to improve their processing?
The brain is able to learn new and efficient ways to utilize vision. Vision not only includes eyesight (20/20) but more so encompasses how a person interprets, understands, and manipulates what is seen. Vision training is a program designed to develop—or improve—fundamental processing skills that are essential to sports vision performance. Vision training is used to improve one’s ability to make accurate eye movements. Vision training is essentially a method of teaching the eyes and the brain how to perform a skill more efficiently.
There are many methods of vision training, but the Edge Trainer by Vizual Edge offers sport-specific and athlete-specific training for each individual to improve their athletic performance. The Edge Trainer has eight trainable exercises within the platform that are all trainable from the comfort of your own home using a tablet or laptop. One of the exercises that best translates to a QB’s performance is our newest exercise, Contrast Tracking.
The contrast tracking exercise measures the ability to distinguish subtle light-dark differences in moving objects. By combining two of the most important visual skills in contrast and tracking, the contrast tracking exercises closely resemble a QB’s ability to read a defense both pre-snap and in-play.
Take a look at the graphics above. You are looking at the Vizual Edge Contrast Tracking (Saccades) exercise. In this exercise, you must identify the slight difference in contrast between the jumping circles. Similar to reading a defense at pre-snap, your eyes move across the whole field of view to identify coverages and responsibilities. Correctly identifying coverages, responsibilities, and personnel allows the QB to make the best pre-snap reads for optimal success.
In the graphics above, you are looking at the Vizual Edge Contrast Tracking (Pursuits) exercise and an example of using pre-snap motion to identify coverage. The pursuit version of Contrast Tracking sees the circles moving in a smooth pattern, rather than jumping around. This offers a similar style of tracking when an offense does the pre-snap motion. The pre-snap motion above allows the QB to determine defensive players' responsibilities in coverage. The QB ultimately determines to check it down to the player in motion as the LB and DB both drop back in coverage.
Improving your processing skills will help any QB improve the cognitive side of their game. If you’re a QB or a coach looking to improve your decision-making, recognition, and tracking skills consider vision training with Vizual Edge.
- Zack Strock