ProgVectra CEO: ‘Pay attention to an athlete’s mind’

By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Editor

ProgVectra has designed a system for high school football players to train their eyes.

Just as players spend countless hours in the weight room and on the practice field to give themselves the best chance of succeeding at competition, they can spend time training their eyes to increase the speed and span of their vision and improve cognitive processing.

A football player must respond aggressively to the play unfolding in front of him in a matter of milliseconds; otherwise, the play may have passed him by. ProgVectra trains players to make those split-second decisions by expanding field awareness and quickly delivering the information to inform the mind and initiate movement.

ProgVectra offers two types of training:

  • A hardware board that takes measurements and checks reaction time and mind-processing time.
  • An interactive video projected onto a wall to increase hand-eye coordination.

ProgVectra CEO Robert A. Orsillo, OD, FAAO, and his staff have worked closely with the Florida State football team, and many current NFL players. He joined FNF Coaches for a Q&A.

Why should coaches be interested in having their players train their eyes?

“It’s time they start paying attention to the mind, to the brain. Everything is so geared toward the weight room, when there’s plenty they can do with vision and mind training to correct their mistakes. Players make mistakes, and it’s not because they’re stupid. They just don’t see things. Processing vision is much more difficult when it’s involved in a fast-moving sport. What we see is remnants of a memory. It’s not actually like a Polaroid camera processing an image. We’re processing parts of an image and putting it together to create a vision.”

How can a coach start training his players to process images quickly?

“I work as a consultant to some companies that manufacture instruments to train eye-hand coordination, as well as produce videos. What we concentrate on is a player’s attention span. The attention deficit with high school athletes is an epidemic. Just about every high school athlete suffers from it. Training for football is a vision sport because you want players to react to what they see. That’s at the core of working with minds. Once you get the mind working to where it’s making a decision quickly, you’re training a better player.”

How should a coach start incorporating vision training into his program?

“There’s also a segment on how to teach players. Teaching on the field is completely different from teaching in the classroom. If they take the attitude that they’re teaching it like it’s a class, they’re missing some stuff. It’s very frustrating for coaches when a player misses something in a game. ‘You didn’t see that guy? He was wide open.’ Well, his attention was some place else. There’s a circuitry in the brain that is designed for athletes. It was originally designed for mankind as something for survival and hunting. That requires you to think fast, run fast. That still exists in the brain today. We need to nurture it.”

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk