After I’d been coaching for about ten years or so, it started to dawn on me that instead of watching the ball, it would serve me better to watch the players. I didn’t say this to anyone, even my most trusted confidants, as it seemed that if it were true I would certainly have heard about it. After all, by that point I was a university graduate with a major in coaching and had already been to an Olympics. However, it kept nagging at me. Another explanation that crossed my mind was that it was so obvious coach education programs didn’t even bother saying it and I was the only idiot who hadn’t figured it out. With that in mind, I started to watch the very experienced coach I was working with at the time. When I watched him, he was watching the ball. It wasn’t a thing at all. You should watch the ball.
Despite the lack of literature or advice that watching the players would be helpful, I could not shake the idea and every so often I would try to take my focus off the ball for a while. It was not easy and I never stuck with it for very long. Eventually (fifteen years after it first occurred to me) I bit the bullet and conscientiously followed through. Slowly, bit by bit, I could manage it for longer and longer periods of time. And bit by bit, more of the game was revealed to me. Instead of trying to figure out what players must have done to get to that position or to make that play, I saw them do it.
For some period in the 1990s, Magic Eye pictures were very popular. Magic Eye pictures are technically autostereograms. If you look at the picture in a certain way, you can see a 3 dimensional image. The main characteristic that I remember about them, was that once I had revealed the 3D image by staring at the picture, I could relax my eyes without losing the image and move around it, choosing to look at different parts in detail.
So what’s the point of that story? I find that when I am standing behind the court and really locked in, I can move my head around the court to focus on different parts of the action without losing the overview of the ball and general movement of play, EXACTLY as I used to do with Magic Eye pictures in my youth. By not focusing on the ball, I had revealed a completely different image of the game. I had opened my magic eye. With a bit of practice it works live and even watching on a computer screen.
Use your magic eye to see the game in 3D. You will be amazed at what you see.
Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.