sports vision skills

What are Sports Vision Skills?

What are Sports Vision Skills?

If you think that playing sports only involves running, throwing, tackling, and jumping, then you are missing other key skills every athlete must develop.

Sports vision skills are an integral part of every game. The eyes gather over 60% of information that is sent to the muscular and skeletal systems. Specific visual abilities affect sports performance because they directly impact motor skills. The great news is that just like physical exercise strengthens the body, visual skills can be improved with training.

Keep Your Eyes on the Ball (Maybe Not)

Every coach has said that and every player has tried to do it but focusing on a fast-moving object places a great demand on vision. A baseball hit into right field might seem like a blur but players can improve this visual ability by understanding how focusing works in a sports situation.

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Humans can only focus both eyes on an object within a relatively small space. To get a look at what this means, try the Thumb Rule. Hold your arm straight out with your thumb pointing vertically. The width of your thumb in this position gives you an idea of the size of your visual focus. Now, before you get discouraged and think you will never be able to track a tennis ball or softball that is lobbed your way, be prepared to learn a focusing trick.

While it is difficult for both eyes to focus on a ball that is moving, you can concentrate your vision peripherally. Motion is more easily detected in your peripheral vision field. And the quicker you react to the motion in sports, the better able you will be able to play.

So, instead of intensely focusing on the ball, look to the midpoint. In basketball, for instance, this can mean looking at the area between the ball and the person you are defending. The movement of either the ball or the other player will be detected more quickly and you will be in a better place visually to make the right move.

What’s Your Eye D?

Of course, you all have ID, but Eye D refers to your dominant eye. If you know which eye it is, you can improve the way you play certain sports. That’s because the dominant eye processes and sends information to the brain just a little bit faster and more accurately than the other eye.

Let’s take a quick test. Extend both arms straight out from your body, at about shoulder height. With your thumbs and index fingers, form a small triangle. Pick an object in the distance and center it in the triangle. Close one eye at a time and look at the object. The eye that sees the object centered in the triangle is your dominant eye.

Now, take this information to the playing field. If you are a golfer, line up your next shot so that your dominant eye has a clear view of the ball and the hole. Tilt your head to give that eye an unobstructed look at the path the ball needs to travel.

While a physically fit body is important in sports, remember the role of your eyes. Without their ability to focus and process visual information, athletes would literally be at a loss. Get regular vision exams to keep your eyes at their best. And remember, it’s not only about winning; it’s also about being a better and healthier you.

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Sports Vision Care and Athletic Success

In baseball, hitters are said to have a ‘good eye’ when they can distinguish between balls and strikes better than average. A ‘good eye’, though, is associated more with good judgment and restraint than with excellent vision. Sports vision care is vital to athletic success. 

For all the physical traits valued in young athletes—strength, agility, speed, endurance, etc.—there is little focus on vision. And yet it appears self-evident that good vision is of utmost importance in any sport.

“Participation in sports and recreational activities continues to increase exponentially each year, and there has never been a greater opportunity or need for optometrists to meet the unique vision care needs of athletes.” –AOA Sport Vision Section 

baseball sunglasses sports vision care

The Sports & Vision Section of the American Optometric Association (AOA) states, “Vision, just like speed and strength, is an important component in how well you play your sport.” For baseball alone, the AOA lists 17 skills important for success: peripheral vision, depth perception, speed of focusing, color perception, and eye dominance, to name a few. Excellent depth perception, for example, is crucial for fielders judging the trajectory of balls hit high into the air.

Mobile optometry equipment can increase the ease and frequency of eye exams for athletes. At the highest levels of competition exercise regimens are planned down to the minute and nutrition measured down to the gram. Here, the ability to fine-tune a prescription month-to-month or week-to-week could prove essential.

The low cost of new handheld mobile optometry equipment expands opportunities not only for optometrists specializing in sports vision care but also the number of optometrists that can explore this specialty. Sports vision care is essential for athletes at the highest level of play as well as developing athletes at all levels.

In sports, there are winners and losers, but the advent of handheld, mobile optometry equipment is a win-win situation.

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