From Darren Bent’s power bracelet to Heurelho Gomes’ gumshield, footballers will try anything to boost their performance on the pitch.
To this list you can now add space-age training specs. Devised by the boffins at Nike, the SPARQ Vapor Strobes are designed to develop vision and motor skills, while improving reaction times.
More after the break
Using liquid crystal technology, the Vapor Strobes’ lenses flicker between clear and blocked vision, forcing a player to hone their split attention skills, as they cope with momentary blindness.
“Split attention is about keeping your mind’s eye – the central focus – on the ball, but being aware and responsive peripherally,” explains Dr Alan Reichow, global research director of Nike SPARQ Sensory Performance and Vision.
“Wayne Rooney keeps his eye on the ball, but is aware of the defenders around him and can anticipate where his team-mates are.
“The strobes help develop these skills. The number one thing soccer players say to us after using the strobes is, ‘They slow the game down.’ They also say the ball seems so much larger.”
Don’t just take it from the science bods. Jack Jewsbury, a midfielder for MLS side Portland Timbers, admits experiencing the ‘Matrix effect’ out on the pitch.
“When you take them off, everything seems to become a bit easier,” he tells FFT. “You can really picture what you’re supposed to do with the ball.”
The Nike SPARQ Vapor Strobes cost £189. For more info visit nikestore.com