How new training goggles can help GAA players improve their anticipation and reading of the game
"If I'm spending all my time focusing on the ball coming into my feet, then I'm missing out on opportunities."
The 'Chin up Goggles' are a product used by lots of teams in different sports, with the idea being that if you obstruct the player's vision correctly, it will help them advance other skills.
Of course they're not magic, there's a science behind the design, and it's not a case of heightening other senses, but more of a tool that forces you to look for other things rather than just following the ball.
Teammates, opposition, movements elsewhere, the body language of other players around - all of these things can now become the focus and help you anticipate the next passage of play.
These goggles have been used in basketball, soccer and lots of other ball sports, so now the GAA have began trying to benefit from them too.
Alan Dunton, a lecturer in Dublin's Technological University, did the primary research for the product and was best equipped to explain its attributes if used correctly.
"When you look at the goggles themselves, they're of a kind of perceptual motor training tool, in a sense that, it's not so much focusing on vision training, it's not a peripheral vision or depth perception tool.
"It's more of an education of attention tool, so it's about what you're perceiving in front of you. My primary research would have been in soccer, where if I'm spending all my time focusing on the ball coming into my feet, then I'm missing out on opportunities to educate my attention to my teammates, the opposition, or what's going on within the game around me.
"When you take that into a hurling or camogie perspective, which is one of the fastest sports on grass, and you look at the speed that a sliotar will travel in, if I'm spending all my time focusing on the sliotar, and potentially then missing out on opportunities to see where my teammates are, where my opponents are, then I'm losing out an opportunity to make better decisions.
"It's not that we don't look for the ball, it's if we can get the information earlier in a sequence from teammates. Say a pass came in low - if I spend all my time in that situation tracking the ball coming towards me, then I miss out on these other opportunities.
"If I can get that information quicker in the context of game, it would be better. Say there's two minutes to go and you're losing, so you already know that you need to go forward.
"Wearing the goggles, in training that is of similar context to a game, they will help you pick up on subtle cues from your teammates, such as the rotation of the body, because that's what you will be looking at now.
— Chin Up Goggles (@ChinUpGoggles) January 18, 2022
"It's not so much a conscious process, but in accumulating that information, you get better at understanding what those things mean and how the outcome of the pass is going to play.
"Now, this is only gonna be appropriate if you're playing in the right context. You don't just drop them on and go have a good time - you have to design your session with them in mind if you're going to use them."
You can purchase your own pair of the Chin Up Goggles here.