SPORTS VISION SKILLS  

VISUAL SKILLS

Visual skills are one of the four pillars that make up an athlete's so-called "intangible" skills set.

 

These intangible skills, which we refer to globally as sports vision skills, are all in the head and include:

  • field vision and peripheral awareness

  • mental toughness and visualization

  • reaction time and anticipation

  • attention, focus and concentration

  • balance, speed and agility

  • game strategy and creativity

 

Training and conditioning their visual skills enables athletes to quickly and accurately recognize and process visual information. It is the first step in getting the body to make the proper response in competition.

Training the visual system means working the muscles associated with eye movements and eye-body reflexes in order to enhance performance in sports that rely on visual input.

 

For ease of comprehension, visual skills can be loosely categorized into two groups; visual motor skills, which are generally the ability to move and adjust the eyes, and visual perceptual skills which refer more to the ability to process visual information.

 

The table below summarizes the visual skills that are most important for athletic performance and which can be improved with eye exercises and a vision training program.

Vision Therapy in Progress

EYE EXERCISES

 

Focusing

Focusing is the ability to quickly and accurately change focus from a near point to a far point.

 

In baseball, for example, focusing skills refer to the ability of the hitter to focus on the position of outfielders, infielders, gaps, coaches' signals, the catcher, and the pitcher, all of which are at varying distances.

Tracking

Tracking is the ability to clearly and accurately follow a moving object as it flies through the air or moves on the ground.

 

In hockey, for example, it is the ability of a goaltender to sharply see the puck as it is shot towards the net from the blue line at up to 90 mph. It is also the ability of a puck carrier to clearly see an open teammate while both are in motion.

Depth Perception

Depth perception skills allow an athlete to accurately judge distances and to react quickly.

 

In competitive swimming, for example, swimmers with better depth perception skills may be better able to time their turns and their finishes at the wall, thereby giving them a slight competitive advantage.

Visual Alignment

Visual alignment is the ability of the eyes to work together as they focus on different points at varying distances, and to keep the two eyes working together without strain or double vision.

 

In golf, for example, a player who continually misses putts to the right or left may have a problem related to alignment.

Eye-Body Coordination

Eye-hand, eye-foot and eye-body coordination skills involve the input of visual information to the brain and the interpretation of that information by the brain to coordinate movement.

 

It is evident that all sports involving a projectile, for example, require excellent hand-eye and/or hand-foot coordination in order to catch, hit or kick the object.

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