Whether we’re drumming to the beat, typing, playing ping pong, or boxing an opponent, we use hand-eye coordination or HEC daily. Hand-eye coordination is our brain and body’s system of processing actions and stimulus with our eyes and translating it into movement and action in real life. Games and simulations of sports and even juggling in VR are said to be one of the most powerful ways to get HEC training.

Importance of Coordination

Learning new activities, playing sports, using both hands and legs, and practicing repetitive actions really helps build hand-eye coordination. It can help teens, adults, kids, people with disabilities, but also develop our athletic and fitness abilities.

Want to be better at sports or esports? Use VR to build your hand-eye coordination. Want to be less clumsy and more confident? Use virtual reality and coordination drills to strengthen muscles and brain pathways.

Benefits of Working on Hand-Eye Coordination

  • Improves central vision and peripheral vision. What we put our focus on strengthens.
  • Trains the eyes and brain to pick up on details and recognize changes.
  • Switching between near-far distances and depth becomes easier to do.
  • Quicker and more controlled reaction times.
  • More confidence, less clumsiness. Drop stuff less, become more surefooted and more accurate, feel accomplished, repeat.
  • Whole body movement and awareness leads to mobility and flexibility while walking, exercising, playing VR, and performing daily functions.
  • Exercising and conditioning muscles to work together with the brain helps us coordinate complicated to simple movements and tasks with more ease. The worlds best athletes in sports and esports know that taking it easy during mid-training or season means less accurate shots being taken, timing can get thrown off, and other issues that affect performance.

HEC’s Affects on the Brain

Brain and CoordinationBijan Pesaran, an Associate Professor of Neural Science at New York University in an August 2014 research article for the National Science Foundation discussed how professional ping pong players demonstrate the brain’s rapid processing of hand-eye coordination.

Pesaran says, “When ping pong players are playing at a high level, they look at the ball up to the point where they hit it. As soon as the paddle makes contact with the ball, you can see their eyes and head turn to now look at their opponent. They think they are looking at their opponent when they are hitting the ball, but they are looking at the ball. Their eyes are tracking the ball, even though they are aware of their opponent.”

He says that our eyes and brain take in visual signals that are a bit delayed but are translated into our body’s movement. Whether that coordinated movement is a swing of a table tennis racket, the punch of a moving target down a platform, or the laps we swim, the signals are sent on a pathway to our brain, movement signals get triggered, and the action is taken. This happens at 200 milliseconds or a fifth of a second, according to Pesaran.

With our brains swiftly processing our every move, how will you strengthen it with coordination?

5 Ways to build Hand-Eye Coordination or HEC:

  1. Do coordination drills. Play catch, juggle, throw some darts, dribble and shoot some hoops, jump rope. Use technology to your advantage and play games in VR that use not only two hands and arms, but also the rest of the body for HEC training.
  2. Take it slow. Yoga, tai chi, stretching, tossing a balloon, and drawing also practices HEC in a deliberate and more controlled way. Not everything needs to be fastpaced and set to lightspeed to get good HEC results.
  3. Practice. We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: practice and repetition keep the mind and body connection strong. Gamers, gym heads, and athletes know this well.
  4. Mix it up. Throwing around tennis balls, basketballs, and doing drills is going to help improve HEC if you mix it up and make practicing challenging. Throw high, low, side to side, and randomize it. Do it with a friend or teammate so they can keep your body and mind guessing.
  5. Use both arms and legs. Using one hand at a time will help with HEC but jumping rope and even tossing a balloon around can help build full-body coordination.

How to Use VR as Tool for Better Coordination

Using virtual reality as a tool for hand-eye and full body coordination makes training entertaining and doesn’t get boring. New users and even esport athletes experience just how quickly time accelerates when games transport our bodies and minds into virtual worlds.

The great thing about VR is that we become fully focused on a game when outside stimulus becomes blocked out. Time passes by and games that are great for HEC get turned into training, not some task to knock off a to-do list.

VR does a great job at removing some of the limitations we’ve got in reality, like juggling swords and bombs, while keeping us grounded by our surroundings, or a platform and guardian system. Why not take advantage of this brain and fitness hack and get coordination training as an additional benefit?

VR Games to Play for Hand-Eye Coordination Training

Fun and Simple

Show Me What You Got
Credit to: Blacksmith Studios/David and Goliath International Corporation

Learning to juggle by throwing around a few bean bags or tennis balls is a helpful HEC builder, especially if we’re short on time to hop into VR. If you’ve got the time, jumping into a juggling simulation will also help build up coordination and improves reaction times. Juggling clunky or even hilariously dangerous objects we might not be able to use in real life like bowling pins, keyboards, and bombs is possible in a game like Show Me What You Got. We’ve got the timer, the roaring crowd to distract us, and strikes to improve against. All of which spells a true HEC game.

Being calm before a game, esport competition or training that requires a clear and focused mind makes a difference in hand-eye coordination. Using tai chi exercises that make us bend and move with smooth and controlled movements can help with stretching tight muscles but also in practicing HEC. WiseMind is a mindfulness app for VR that has tai chi and rock stacking which are going to keep HEC connections from our bodies and brains stronger and more flexible at slower speeds.

Medium Training

Sparc
Credit to: CCP

Outside Online suggests using one or more tennis balls while “Playing a fast-paced game of catch with a partner can be a great way to boost eye-hand skills, too.” VR games like SPARC use both hands, feet, and legs to help build towards full body coordination because it practices our eye’s ability to track moving objects quickly as they bounce around and uses shifting body movements like deflecting and catching to create muscle movement memory.

Challenge

BOXVR
Credit to: FitXR

VR games like Beat Saber and BOXVR are ambidextrous games that use both the right and left hands, arms, and legs for a well-rounded workout. With Beat Saber, players slice cubes as close to the center as they can while also following a full follow through in 90 and 45-degree angles based on directional arrows. BOXVR is a cardio boxing game with traditional punch combinations that put in obstacles so players have to side lunge, squat, and switch sides to target the legs, core, and obliques, something Beat Saber does with a bit less repetition.

Wrap Up

Hand-eye and full body coordination training can be achieved both outside and inside VR. With VR, it’s riveting to train in worlds that don’t exist in our everyday lives. All it takes is practice, the right games to get started, and a mix of activity that will keep things fun and exciting but are also good for our health.


Interested in contributing content for VR Fitness Insider?

We'd love to hear from you! Contact us


This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. More information here.