I remember the 8 year old me building a pretty kick-ass periscope out of cardboard and mirrors at school. I could see all around me from my elevated mobile vantage point without moving much at all. All it took was a quick swivel.
We are a little like periscopes with some of our major sensory organs - ears, eyes, nose - in the our head for us to rotate around to get information on our relationship with the outside world.
There used to be a time in our evolution where we had to constantly vigilant of predators and a outstanding "periscoping" abilities helped us survive. Now, in our generally civilized world (for those of us lucky enough to be reading articles rather than being aware of survival as our main need), we only tend to see "periscoping" in activities like high level sports. A great example was James Hernandez's look over the shoulder to spot his position before his stunning volley for Colombia the other week.
In top level sport, especially team sports, "periscoping" is encouraged and coached. Having a picture of what play is like so that you can plan ahead is a sought-after ability that is helped by having a quick look and listen around.
I have a rather contraversial idea:
The better your current level of athleticism, the more you will "periscope" without being coached and the easier you will find doing it.
Think about it.
In a team sport, what you are doing in relation to your environment is a huge deal. To look and listen around would be a natural and logical response to the demands of the game. Why WOUDLN'T you do this?
In my experience and in the opinions of a lot of preeminent thinkers in human and sports performance circles, the ability to look and listen freely around is an indication of health.
Even in activities where looking around isn't a necessity, if given a chance to bet on two athletes with a similar level of experience, I would put my money on the person who can turn to look and listen more freely as they will almost certainly be more athletic.
Pain and stiffness in turning or a lack of spontaneous turning therefore aren't so much a problem but a symptom of sub-optimal sensory awareness.
Coaching looking and listening around are fine things to do that may have the effect of players becoming more aware of their surroundings but helping them really become better athletes (I do this type of thing at my Harley Street sports performance office) will have them "periscope" without thinking about it, just because it's an appropriate thing to do, just like it was for our survival-driven ancestors.
Get tackled and hit less and see the picture like the great players do. It just takes a simple swivel of your eyes and ears.
Arton "Cardboard and mirrors" Baleci
Float Sting - Sports Rehab and Performance