Dynavision Helping Players' Focus

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer refers to Mickey Marotti as his right-hand man because he considers him the most effective strength and conditioning coach in all of college football. Now Marotti has the Buckeye football players working on something new - their eye muscles.

Name a muscle in the human body, and Ohio State strength and conditioning coordinator Mickey Marotti will name an exercise or workout regimen to make it stronger.

That now includes the eye muscles.

Ohio State recently introduced the Dynavision D2 machine for spring practice, a device located in the team's weight room that is specifically designed to help players improve their hand-eye coordination and reaction times.

"It's training the eye muscles like you're training arm muscles or leg muscles," Marotti said. "It's good because it is competitive. It's kind of like a video game and they are into it. They want to see who can get the highest score. They are fighting back in the back room to get the highest score.

"The object is to decrease reaction time from the time they see a light sensor to the time they hit it. The theory is, when you see a ball or what's going on around them, just speeding up the reaction time."

The device is on a big, black board filled with dozens of small lights. When one light randomly turns red, the player utilizing the exercise must react as quickly as possible by tapping the light. During minute-long trials, the machine counts how many lights were tapped and keeps scores accordingly.

Ohio State is using the machine this spring on a trail basis, but Marotti has been pleased thus far with the improvements of the players' scores. Also used by Tennessee, Duke, the Pittsburgh Steelers and NASCAR drivers Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards, the Dyanavision has become a hit in the locker room.

"It is always a competition after we work out we go in there and we have a little group and compete against each other," wide receiver Chris Fields said. "To have another station to compete with each other is always good. Every time I go in the weight room and we're not working out or practicing, I get a chance to go and do this."

Ohio State became familiar with the machine because it is used at Cincinnati, and cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs presented the idea of implementing it in the Buckeyes' routine to Marotti.

Cornerback Doran Grant holds the team's high score with 108, but the team is still fighting to crack the world record of 132 held by San Antonio Spurs center and NBA All-Star Tim Duncan.

But it was a big step for Grant – the first player on OSU's roster to crack 100 – especially considering most of the players on the team posted initial scores that ranged anywhere between 40 and 60.

Marotti and Coombs are still analyzing whether there has been identifiable carry-over from the scores to reaction times on the field, but both Grant and Fields said that he feels a difference in his ability to react to the ball quicker.

"It's showing up on my breaks," Grant said. "I am seeing plays better and I have better overall vision on the field. I can make more plays and do certain things that I can see."

"It definitely helped me be more focused on the ball," Fields said. "It is good to have good hand-eye coordination when you're out there on the field. Doing this every day, it helps you out and improves (your skill) on the field. As a receiver, I have to react fast, move fast and it is beneficial. I have noticed a difference."

The machine seems especially useful for skill position players who have more ball-oriented duties on the field, but Coombs said he's happy to add anything that can feed the competitive nature head coach Urban Meyer desires in his football program.

Players have taken to Dynavision like they would a video game. And if that also means improved vision and reaction times on the field, Coombs is all for it.

"There's no downside to kids doing that kind of stuff on their own," Coombs said. "We train so hard. We train your body physically. We train your, frankly, your soul with ethical conduct and character. We train your heart with toughness and those kinds of things. Why not train your eyes and your mind and try to close some of those synapses that are going on in your brain?"

Follow Ari Wasserman on Twitter and find us on Facebook.

Buckeye Sports Top Stories