Charles is a longtime sportswriter with a deep appreciation for mixed martial arts and boxing.
The importance of hand-eye coordination cannot be overemphasized in most sports today. Simply put, it is how well your eyes are able to control the movement of your hands. Your eyes send signals to your brain, which directs the movement of your hands. Individuals with good hand-eye coordination are able to process this information quickly and effectively. This results in them having a better reaction time and enhanced athleticism.
Sports such as baseball, table tennis, tennis, racquetball, auto racing, team handball, ice hockey, basketball, volleyball, and even boxing require athletes to possess good hand-eye coordination in addition to other important attributes. This can be the distinguishing factor between a great athlete and a not so great athlete. Below are 10 athletes with the most incredible hand-eye coordination to compete in their sports.
1. John Patrick McEnroe
John McEnroe is often considered as the greatest tennis player in the history of the sport. He has tremendous hand-eye coordination, which greatly contributed to him winning seven singles titles and nine men's doubles titles at the majors.
According to his dad John Sr., by age two, John McEnroe had such tremendous hand-eye coordination that he could strike an incoming ball with a plastic bat. By eight, he had dropped the bat and picked up a racket at nearby Douglaston Club. He and his friends would spend long summer nights playing stickball out on Rushmore Street. This was a fine way to improve his eye-hand coordination, which would later prove crucial in his tennis career. His hand-eye coordination is said to be in the top 1 percent.
2. Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth is regarded by many to be the greatest baseball player of all time. He is a seven-time World Series champion and a one-time Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player. His record for slugging percentage (.6897), and on-base plus slugging (OPS) (1.164) still stands today.
Studies conducted by Columbia University on Babe Ruth while he was playing showed that he could react to visual and sound cues much faster than the average person and that he had better hand-eye coordination than 98.8 percent of the population. The man who is arguably the best home run hitter of all time had eyes 12 percent faster than the average human and nerves steadier than 499 out of 500 persons.
Babe Ruth's (1932 WS) Called Home Run Shot Rare Video & Commentary
3. Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry was very instrumental in leading the Warriors to their first championship since 1975. The two times NBA Most Valuable Player is regarded by many to be the greatest shooter in NBA history.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has described him as having the best hand-eye coordination of anybody he has ever seen. Curry’s incredible hand-eye coordination helps him to accurately gauge where he is on the court and the distance and angle to the rim. This remarkable ability helped him become the NBA scoring leader in the 2015-2016 NBA season. He is also a five-time NBA three-point field goals leader and a three-time NBA free-throw percentage leader.
Steph Curry’s Incredible Handles, Hand-Eye Coordination Drills
4. Joseph James Pavelski
Joseph James Pavelski is the captain of the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League (NHL). He scored a goal in his first NHL game, making him the 11th Sharks player in the history of the team to do so. He won a silver medal as a member of the United States national men's ice hockey team at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Pavelski’s superior hand-eye coordination makes him one of the best in the league at deflecting shots and pouncing on rebounds. His tipping skill is also something worthy of mention, as it is one of hockey's hardest skills. With goalies so big and so good today, and with defensive schemes prioritizing shot-blocking as much as possible, a great tipper can be a real asset to a team. It goes without saying that excellent hand-eye coordination is a must to be a proficient tipper.
Joe Pavelski Gets His Team Within One Thanks to Some Amazing Hand-Eye Coordination
5. Jan-Ove Waldner
Jan-Ove Waldner is a Swedish former table tennis player and is widely regarded as being the greatest table tennis player of all time. He is one of only five male players in the history of table tennis to achieve a career grand slam (World Champion and World Cup winner in singles, Olympic gold medal in singles). His hand-eye coordination was unbelievable even for a table tennis player.
Waldner was the first to compete with and regularly beat the Chinese. His first strength was the execution of the block shot with great precision and lucidity. He possessed the ability to be extremely calm and focused during his serve return. Jan-Ove provoked the opponent to attack on the third ball and make them off balance so that he can block the ball with extreme precision. These strengths and skills require an extreme amount of hand-eye coordination and reflexes, which he possessed naturally and also kept improving through the years.
Jan-Ove Waldner: The Power of Block
6. Andre Kirk Agassi
Andre Agassi is widely considered to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time. The eight-time Grand Slam champion and the Olympic gold medalist has one of the most remarkable hand-eye coordination in the history of the sport. He is the only man to win the Career Golden Slam and the ATP Tour World Championships.
What made Agassi so different and effective was the fact that he made contact with the ball inside the baseline whenever he could- a very difficult skill, even by professional standards. This ability was due to his astonishing hand-eye coordination. This technique led to many tennis greats describing him as the best service returner ever to play the sport.
7. Sidney Patrick Crosby
Sidney Patrick Crosby is a Canadian professional ice hockey player and was one of the most highly regarded draft picks in hockey history. He is the youngest player and the only teenager to win a scoring title in any major North American sports league. Crosby’s hand-eye coordination is out of this world. This remarkable attribute has helped him win the Hart Memorial Trophy (NHL MVP) twice. He has also won the Art Ross Trophy (Leading Scorer) and the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy (Goals Leader) twice.
His incredible hand-eye coordination allows him to easily sweep around defenders while dodging checks from other defenders. It also allows him to block shots with ease and immediately pass to an open teammate down the ice.
Sidney Crosby Hand-Eye Coordination
8. Sergey Alexandrovich Kovalev
Sergey Alexandrovich Kovalev is a former unified light heavyweight world champion, having held the WBO title from 2013 to 2016, and the WBA (Undisputed) and IBF titles from 2014 to 2016. Kovalev's hand-eye coordination is simply astonishing. This helps him very much in his sport of boxing as a boxer needs to throw punches accurately while simultaneously avoiding the punches of his opponent.
In boxing, your opponent’s fists are usually a few feet away, depending on his fighting style. Using visual cues taken from his body movements, you have to make a reaction to his attacks and counter with your own. More importantly, your hands have to be extremely accurate in hitting a moving target. It’s very precise to time your punch so that it lands on a very specific target that makes itself available at a very specific moment. All these require that you have very strong hand-eye coordination and Sergey Kovalev record speaks for itself.
9. Barry Bonds
Barry Lamar Bonds is considered to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Bonds was regarded as an exceptional hitter: he led MLB in on-base plus slugging six times, and placed within the top five hitters in 12 of his 17 qualifying seasons. He holds many MLB hitting records, including most career home runs, most home runs in a single season and most career walks.
Barry Bonds had the best hand-eye coordination in MLB history, and this was one of the reasons he was able to hit home runs like it was nobody’s business. It can be difficult for even an elite hitter to focus and concentrate at the plate because of the time factor involved with the swing. The hitter needs to concentrate and focus for only a short time period, usually only a few seconds per pitch. Even a split-second loss of focus can result in failure. This is what made Barry so special considering his home run record.
Barry Bonds Homers at Yankees Stadium
10. Roger Federer
Roger Federer is considered the greatest tennis player of all time by many players and analysts. He has won 19 Grand Slam singles titles, the most in history for a male tennis player.
Roger’s hand-eye coordination is truly extraordinary. When he was a junior, his coaches and peers noticed that Roger had the tendency to look at the point of contact until long after the ball had left. This wasn't something he was taught; it appeared to be innate. He was ridiculed for it by some back then, but when Fed hit the tour, this particular characteristic, which indicates exceptional hand-eye coordination, proved very useful. It seems as though Federer is more aware of what happens at contact than perhaps any other pro, and this is, in part, what allows him to play these freak shots from impossible positions and what allows him to play incredible touch shots.
Other Athletes With Excellent Hand-Eye Coordination?
Is there any other athlete you feel is gifted with extraordinary hand-eye coordination but was unable to make it on this list? Please let me know in the comments section below.
© 2017 Charles Nuamah
jon on January 22, 2020: