Important Vision Skills for All Athletes
Dynamic Visual Acuity
If you are playing a sport like racquetball, tennis, soccer or hockey, you need to be able to clearly see objects while you and/or the objects are moving fast. Without good dynamic visual acuity, you will have a difficult time in sports like these.
When you commit to an error on an easy ground ball or miss a short putt, you might be distracted by things that are happening around you. Our eyes normally react to anything that happens in our field of vision-spectators, other participants or even rustling leaves on an overhanging branch. Visual concentration is the ability to screen out these distractions and stay focused on the object or the target.
When you are playing any sport with a ball or a fast-moving opponent, you need to be able to follow objects without much head motion. Eye tracking helps you maintain better balance and quickly react to the situation.
Eye-hand-body coordination is how your hands, feet, body and other muscles respond to the information gathered through your eyes. It is an important part of most sports because if affects both timing and body control.
When you are pushing a fast break up the basketball court, leading a rush up the ice in hockey, or catching the big wave amid a crowd of surfers, you need to process and remember a fast-moving, complex picture of people and things. This is called visual memory. The athlete with good visual memory always seems to be in the right place at the right time.
Picture yourself hitting a perfect drive, long and right down the middle of the fairway. Believe it or not, picturing yourself doing it can actually help you do it. Through visualization, you see yourself performing well in your "mind's eye" while your eyes are concentrating on something else, usually the ball. Using scanning techniques, researchers have found that the same areas of the brain that light up during performance also are at work when you visualize the performance.
When a soccer player sees her teammate out of the corner of her eye, she is using her peripheral vision. Much of what happens in sports does not happen directly in front of you. Therefore, increasing your ability to see action to the side without having to turn your head is important.
Visual Reaction Time
The pitcher releases the ball and you swing, but you're a little late and you hit a weak foul down the line, or worse, you miss the ball completely. Or maybe you can't quite return that tennis serve. You need to improve your visual reaction time, the speed with which your brain interprets and reacts to your opponent's action.
In racket sports, depth perception enables you to quickly and accurately judge the distance between yourself, the ball, your opponents, teammates, boundary lines and other objects. If you consistently over, or under-estimate the distance to your target, poor depth perception may be the reason.
If you want to perform at your highest level you not only need to think about strength, nutrition, sleep, but also your eyes!
If you are not visually fit, you won’t be able to perform to your highest level.
Dr. Heddle has worked with professional athletes in basketball, football, and hockey, as well as collegiate athletes in tennis, baseball, and several more.
Call today to schedule a sports vision evaluation to help keep you in the game!!