Do you want some sports vision improvement? Do you wish you could cut a few strokes off your golf score? Or do you always seem to be just a few steps away from the soccer ball? Maybe your having trouble returning your tennis partner’s serve? Vision, just like speed and strength, is an important component in how well you play your sport. There is much more to vision than just seeing clearly. Your vision is composed of many interrelated skills that can affect how well you play your sport. Just as exercise and practice can increase your speed and strength, it can also improve your visual fitness and accuracy.
Photo Credit: Richard Masoner
Because all sports have different visual demands, an optometrist with expertise in sports vision can assess your unique visual system and recommend the proper sport prescription glasses, sport contact lenses, or design a vision program to maximize your visual skills for your specific sport.
Remember, a thorough eye examination by your optometrist is a great place to get the winning edge.
Eye protection should also be a major concern to all athletes, especially in certain high-risk sports. There are thousands of sports related eye injuries each year, and nearly all can be prevented by using proper protective eyewear. For outdoor sports, appropriate sunglasses are a must, and some sport-specific designs may even help you improve your game. Ask your optometrist which type is best suited for your favorite sport.
WHAT IS SPORTS VISION?
Sportsvision describes all the aspects of vision required in sport. It is much more complex than simply recording how well you can read a vision chart, or see straight ahead.
A sports vision assessment would record:
- Visual Acuity-how well you can see straight ahead of you
- Eye Dominance
- How well the eyes work together to provide 3D vision. This is directly related to timing and accuracy. Striking a ball or aiming at a goal.
- Peripheral awareness.
- Eye speed and ability to follow a moving target.
- Ability to cope with poor contrast
- Which colour filters improve your vision?
FACTORS THAT COULD AFFECT AN ATHLETES PERFORMANCE
Dynamic Visual Acuity
If you are playing a sport like squash, tennis, rugby, soccer or hockey, it is important that you are able to see objects while you and/or the objects are moving. Without good dynamic visual acuity, these sports will be difficult for you.
When you miss an easy ground ball or a short putt, it may be that you are distracted by things around you. Our eyes normally react to movements in our periphery (spectators, other players or even birds flying nearby in the distance. Visual concentration is the ability to screen out these distractions and stay focused on the ball or the target.
Playing any sport with a fast moving ball or opponent, it is important that you be able to follow objects without much head motion. Eye tracking helps you maintain better balance and react more quickly.
This is how your hands, feet, body and other muscles respond to the visual information gathered through your eyes. This is vital in most sports as it affects both timing and body control.
When you are running towards a soccer or hockey goal or running between wickets, you need to process and remember a fast moving, complex picture of people and things. This is visual memory. The athlete with good visual memory always seems to be at the right place at the right time.
Picture yourself hitting a perfect drive or scoring a goal from a free-kick. Believe it or not, picturing yourself doing it can actually help you do it. Visualization is the skill that enables you to see yourself performing well in your “mind’s eye” while your eyes are seeing and concentrating on something else, usually the ball. Using scanning techniques, researches have found that the same areas of the brain that light up during performance also do so when you visualize the performance.
When a soccer player sees a teammate out of the corner of his eye, he is using his peripheral vision. Since much of what happens in sports does not happen directly in front of you, it’s important to increase your ability to see action to the side without having to turn your head.
Visual Reaction Time
The bowler releases the cricket ball and you swing a little late and you hit a weak drive down the ground or worse, you miss the ball completely. Or, maybe you have difficulty returning that tennis serve. You need to improve your visual reaction time, or the speed with which your brain interprets and reacts to your opponent’s action.
The split second that it takes you to change focus from an object far away to one near you may delay your reaction time and cause you to frequently miss a bowler’s fast ball or miss an easy volley.
In tennis or squash, depth perception enables you to quickly and accurately judge the distance between yourself, the ball, your opponent, teammates, boundary lines and other objects. When shooting or hunting, if you consistently over or underestimate the distance to your target, poor depth perception may be at fault.
Vision Options for Athletes
Enhanced sports vision skills can give an athlete a competitive advantage. Sports vision specialists can help you improve hand-eye coordination and get good protective eyewear to prevent eye injuries.
Sport Contact Lenses
Contact lenses give you a competitive advantage in sports, especially when it comes to providing a wider field of view.
Eyeglasses that Enhance Sport Performance
Glasses offer eye protection, colour enhancements, light control or a combination of features.
Sports Vision Specialists
Sports vision specialists can assess your athletic performance, as well as offer comprehensive training. They are eye care practitioners that have an in-depth, functional understanding of the physiology of the visual system and its importance in relation to the specific sport the athlete is involved in. They also understand the demands each sport has on the visual system before a treatment/therapy can be implemented for the athlete. Sport vision specialists also advise athletes and coaches on the prevention of eye injuries in sport as well as first aid treatment of such injuries.
Sport Vision Tests and Therapies
Improve eye-hand-body coordination, ability to track a moving object or improve depth perception. Sports vision therapy aims to treat a wide variety of problems that athletes face.
Orthokeratology for Athletes
These eye-shaping contact lenses worn only at night are a safe vision correction alternative for athletes.
EVEN MORE INFORMATION WHY YOU NEED SPORTS VISION IMPROVEMENT
In most sport, vision is the dominant sense. One would think that seeing clearly is all that is needed to make vision dominant, right? However, vision skills required in sport are much more complex. For example, catching a ball is an extremely complicated action. Visual information from your eyes tells you where the ball is in space. Using this information, you have to judge the speed of the ball, its direction and you need to estimate where the ball will be when it is within catching distance. This all happens within a matter of milliseconds.
Catching a ball is just one of the many actions occurring in sport and the eyes give you the visual information to perform these tasks. Studies have shown that about 23% of athletes have visual problems and about 33% for umpires, referees and officials. These deficiencies can all be corrected by a sports vision optometrist.
If you feel that your sport performance could need some improvement, consider seeing a sports vision optometrist. Not all optometrists have an interest in sports vision and some differ in their level of expertise. Always make sure you ask the right questions i.e. level of experience, do they have all the necessary equipment to evaluate sports vision skills? Etc.
Vision plays an important role in all sport. Improving your visual skills could make all the difference to your enjoyment of your sport.Leave a reply