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WASHINGTON — Di Shanklin and Julie Kanouse are very competitive pickleball players.
“This one's gonna hurt!” Shanklin taunted, as she hit the ball across the net.
“Today there will be some trash talking going on,” she said, and her longtime pickleball partner Kanouse agreed. “Very stiff competition!” she said.
They’ve been playing for more than 10 years. “I was hooked in the first 2 minutes, and I’ve been playing ever since,” Shanklin said.
But throw a wrench in the game and it’s not so easy. Shanklin showed Kanouse how she’s improved her game on the court with strobe training glasses, adding a new challenge to the sport.
“OK, what’s the purpose of this?” Kanouse asked as she missed catching the ball while wearing strobe training glasses. “Hand-eye coordination,” Shanklin said laughing.
Shanklin trained with stroboscopic eyewear at Intermountain Healthcare’s Acceleration training program in St. George for several months.
The glasses are designed to turn on and off, flashing black to clear, black to clear to help improve the connection and response between an athlete’s eyes, brain and body. Sports performance trainer Brennan Ames said the glasses are like resistance training for the brain.
“(It) essentially blocks out visual information that the brain would normally have to complete a task,” he explained.
Ames said the glasses help train the brain to better anticipate the ball during practice — to improve an athlete’s performance while they’re not wearing them during an actual game.
“Because their brain now is cutting things up in smaller segments or chunks as opposed to seeing everything as a moving blur,” Ames described.
Shanklin said training with the glasses significantly improved her hand-eye coordination. Kanouse finally got the hang of it too and started catching and playing off balls after a little bit of practice.
“I really have to watch the ball,” she said. Kanouse said she is excited to start practicing with the glasses more regularly to keep improving her game — keeping the competition between her and her buddy tight.
“She makes you think. She makes you work,” Shanklin said about her competitor.
Ames encourages people of all ages to pick up a paddle. He said pickleball is a great way to improve your cardiovascular health and recommends exercising at least 30 minutes each day.