It’s typical for an athlete to want to look down during a balance or agility drill. They zoom in on their feet or the obstacle they’re trying to avoid and it seems to make sense … at first.
Then you realize that we’re not really learning to move our feet, we’re learning to move our body, shift our weight, find our rhythm and coordinate the whole thing to change direction and get in position to execute a skill or avoid an opponent. We’re trying to respond gracefully to the moment to accomplish our goal. It’s like dancing. The object isn’t to get the steps right, its to engage with the music and your partner and flow.
Looking down might help a little in the beginning when we’re learning a movement ( although counting out a rhythm actually works better) but once we’re in the wild, out there on the court or the field we need to look up, need to see what’s happening so we actually know how and when to respond.
We spend a lot of time looking down these days, at our phones or our computers. We’re paying a price in terms of our posture and our health. In a heads up 0º tilt with your eyes forward, the human head weighs about 10 -12lbs. Tilt your head just 15º forward and the pressure increases to 27lbs. At 60º, the normal texting posture, the pressure is close to 60 lbs. That extra pressure takes a toll.
Researcher Erik Peper has found that the head down, collapsed posture has an effect on our mood and mental health as well, increasing helpless, hopeless, powerless thinking. He has a number of simple suggestions about how to start making changes shifting posture and mood.
Eyes on the horizon we say. We would be a lot healthier and move a lot better if we started looking up. You might be surprised and delighted to see what you’ve been missing.