Hand-eye coordination is weirdly backwards term. If you ask me, it should be eye-hand coordination—this makes a lot more sense. You have to see it before you can touch it/catch it.
One of the best ways to improve your eye-hand coordination is juggling.
Anyone can learn to juggle, and the benefits are numerous. People have been juggling since at least ancient Egypt (earliest known evidence I could find).
The truth is, we only know a little bit about how brains work—there is still much to be discovered.
What we know for sure, is that your eyes, brain, and hands can INCREASE in power and skill.
We also know that powerful eye-hand coordination makes everything life easier and more fun.
Your eyes are the tip-top of your neural hierarchy (what has the most influence over your brain). Vision is followed by Vestibular (inner ear/balance) and proprioceptive system (skin, joints, muscle, etc).
When your brain perceives a threat, it decreases power to keep you from injuring yourself. The higher the dysfunction in the neural hierarchy, the more power and mobility will be taken from you.
So it’s very important to have clear vision, and strong eye muscles (inside and out).
There are 2 primary sets of muscles at the eye intraocular (inside the eye, provides focus) and extra-ocular (outside the eye, moves the ball). Without adequate stimulus these muscles will atrophy and lose their capacity to move. This is easy to see as people age and lose the ability to move their eyes and necks with ease.
When you lose visual capacity, your entire world shrinks, and your movement along with it. Keeping your eyes fast and your vision clear can be done in just a few minutes per day.
Juggling is a powerful way to improve your vision, but that’s not the end of the benefits.
Because your brain dedicates such a huge amount of real estate to your hands (see image below), getting these two things to cooperate is extremely powerful. Juggling is the ideal way to improve eye-hand coordination (especially when alone).
The next piece that many people forget is the right and left hemisphere integration in the brain. As many people know, the brain is split into two hemispheres that control the opposite sides of the body. We also have terms like "right brained" and "left brained" to describe various human traits like logic or emotion.
You may also know that many physical dysfunctions are due to an imbalance between the left and right sides of the body. An example would be having a stiff shoulder and a hyper-mobile shoulder.
By working the simple cross-body juggling pattern, you are literally teaching the two hemispheres of your brain to cooperate with one another. You are building trust between the left and right sides of your body with every throw and catch.
Imagine playing catch with a friend. Every time you successfully throw and catch, trust and confidence improves. Conversely if you drop the ball a lot, or throw it off-target, trust and confidence is diminished.
The benefits of juggling don’t end there, however.
Two words: HAND. SPEED.
As you get better at juggling, the speed and precision of your eye-hand movements will increase dramatically. And when you can move faster, it means you can also produce more force because F=ma (where F= force, m=mass, and a=acceleration). This will improve your ability to move powerfully with precision.
Lastly, juggling is meditation.
There are many more benefits to juggling, but this one may be the most powerful. Human beings crave activities that bring them into the NOW. Juggling will help you unleash the power of now and increase your eye-hand skills simultaneously.
You will develop great rhythm (even if you think you don’t have rhythm now). You can use a metronome or music and juggle to the beat to make the practice more consistent by bringing your awareness to tempo.
Juggling is a very rewarding skill that will bring you huge benefits. It also offers an encyclopedia of progressively more challenging tricks to help you find that “sweet spot challenge” that takes you into a flow state. Because there are so many ways to progress, you can practice and challenge yourself throughout your entire life.
Invest 5 minutes per day into juggling and you’ll have it within two weeks. More practice sessions per day, and you’ll get there even faster.
Pair juggling (a relaxation and speed drill) with L-Sits or Deadlifts (a high tension strength movement) for a nice 1-2 punch that will help you develop the full spectrum of athleticism.
Enjoy the practice.
PS: If you want to gain more ability along a full spectrum skills and overall athleticism. I strongly encourage you to try out the M3 Academy where we simultaneously increase power and peace of mind through movement, muscle, and meditation.