Juggling as a training tool for soccer goalkeepers
Psychiatric rehabilitator and juggler
The practice of juggling develops key brain areas for perception and prediction of the movement of an object and for the hand-eye coordination. It also stimulates the development of peripheral vision.
The periodic and sustained stimulation of these areas obtained while juggling uniquely accelerate the learning process of new motor skills and can be use to complement and enhance sport specific training activities.
Scientific studies based on neuroimaging have shown an increase of gray matter density in brain areas specific for movement prediction and hand eye coordination after learning of juggling practices.
The brain areas stimulated by juggling are the same areas used by a soccer goalkeeper to accurately predict the trajectory of the ball. These areas analyze the information required to implement an effective ball interception.
The proposal involves the introduction of specific juggling exercises to be performed by Goalkeepers to complement and enhance the physical training for the development of the targeted brain areas.
I’ll be happy to explore collaboration opportunities. For any question please contact me at:
firstname.lastname@example.org - 0039 333 7808103
Psychiatric Rehabilitation and professional juggler.
Engaged in innovative projects to leverage juggling as therapeutic and training tool.
For many years in my juggling-therapy projects I introduced juggling in psychiatric rehabilitation programs. This approach is an important relational opportunity and, even more importantly, an empowerment tool for brain areas affected by the disease in patients with schizophrenia.
During my studies, I realized that these techniques now applied in psychiatric rehabilitation, can be used in any subjects that require a strengthening of certain functions. Hence the possibility of introducing specific exercises in the soccer world, with particular attention to the goalkeeper. Acquiring juggling abilities develop the areas involved in hand-eye coordination and V5 area of the brain, which is the area of motion perception and prediction.The development of this area could ensure a fast perception of movement,and an effective prediction of the trajectory, thus favoring the intervention of the goalkeeper and the interception of the ball.
To understand the fundamental importance of V5 area in motion perception, we can find in the literature cases of patients with a lesion in this specific area that have a "static frames view”, that perceive the space as a series of still images with the consequence of seeing for example a stream of water that falls from the tap as frozen in space. On the contrary, people that have other visual areas damaged except the 'V5area, do not see their surroundings but can perceive the movement of objects around them.
Scientific studies have shown that the practice of juggling increases:
- Brain area involved in the management of the movement perception and prediction
- Cerebral areas interested in hand-eye coordination,
- peripheral vision
So learning juggling techniques impacts on the ability to receive and process information about the movement of objects, and in this case can help the goalkeeper to identify the trajectories of the ball and then designing more effective interception interventions.
We can bring in favor of these hypotheses many scientific studies, that even if not directly interested in juggling itself, exploit juggling, to demonstrate and investigate neuroplasticity associated to motor learning.
One of the most important scientific studies of neuroimaging in recent years published in the scientific journal "Nature" (Attachment 1) was conducted to demonstrate the cellular plasticity of the brain in adult people. Learning juggling skills showed a significant increase in the density of the V5 area of the brain in people who have learned one of the basic practices of juggling, that is a normal 3 balls cascade.
A later study related to this (Abstract in Annex 2), focus on expert jugglers,demonstrating an higher density compared to a control group in the V5 area and in the areas involved in hand-eye coordination. A further study (Abstract in Annex 3) has shown that the acquisition of juggling skills can vary the brain plasticity even in older people and that there is a progressive decrease in density overtime if you don’t keep these skills trained.
This suggests how juggling can be a powerful training tool to enhance the key brain area for the acquisition of information about the trajectory that will take the ball. Strengthening this area will provide the goalkeepers a more specific tool to complement standard training practices developed and optimized in the sport field.
Another feature that is enhanced with juggling is definitely peripheral vision.
For example in the play with clubs or balls, we train to stare at a fixed point in front of us.
We can not look and focus on each moving object, otherwise we would lose sight of the relative movement multiple moving objects. This implies an extreme use of peripheral vision through which we manage a complex situation of throws and catches with a perception and an analysis of the movements that have to be accurate and timely achieved by efficiently processing only the important motion information. Through the practice of juggling we are going to accustom our brain to manage the information gleaned from the peripheral retina, information that our brain already received but which are not usually processed or considered.
Training the peripheral vision will also allow improving the accuracy of the perception of motion of objects or people that we are not focusing on. The vision of the movement it is mainly perceived in two ways shown in the following picture:
- In case A the moving image of the object runs on the retina while the eyes remain still. For this type of motion perception requires the analysis of the information provided to us by the peripheral retina.
- In case B the eye follows the moving object and we have the perception of movement by putting the object in relation to the reference environment.
For a soccer goalkeeper the type A vision and perception of movement will be useful to understand and predict the movement of multiple objects favoring also the overview of the game. The greater the area of the retina that our brains learn to handle, the greater the accuracy in perceiving the movement and spatial placement of objects around us.
Developing a better peripheral vision will also allow the goalkeeper to easily identify the port limits.
With targeted exercises juggling can train the peripheral vision to grant an accurate perception of the movements up to more than 220 degrees, horizontally and vertically.
The intervention that I propose would therefore be targeted to the goalkeepers, and is the execution of targeted exercises. To be effective as cognitive enhancement, the juggling exercises do not require a long duration, but rather be performed on a regular basis, therefore, a daily sessions of 15 minutes ideally integrated in the standard training practice as a warm up or strengthening tool for the areas in the brain being trained. These exercises will tuned to strengthen specifically:
- Capacity of perception and motion prediction
- eye-hand coordination and reaction times of
- peripheral vision
Hopefully I was able to capture your interest in collaborating to implement my research work as a support tool for sport specific training activities . I’m available to set up a meeting to discuss directly with the staff training Goalkeeping in order to find together the best way to put into practice the interventions.
Dr. Antonio Caggioni
"Techniques of Psychiatric Rehabilitation" and professional juggler. Engaged in innovative projects of use of juggling as a cognitive and relational development tool, a means of artistic expression, in order to contribute to the welfare of the person.
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