Vision Skills for Sports

When we think of vision, we normally think of 20/20, however for competitive athletics, every edge can make the difference. Vision plays a major role in sports, and sports vision training can help athletes excel by improving the visual skills used in their sport and position. Professional and amateur athletes have been using sports vision training to improve core visual skills that can make the difference between good and great performance.  

Vision Skills for Sports in Olympia

The Importance of Vision in Sports

Anyone who has seriously trained for a sport, and even many who only engage in sports on a causal basis, will understand the importance of good vision.

Whether you need to catch a ball, hit a ball, or time a jump, the ability to correctly--and quickly--judge distances is vital.

The specific vision skills required in different sports varies, of course. A skier, a baseball player, and a gymnast all rely on different key skills in order to excel at their chosen activity.

However, there is enough overlap between various sports to enable us to list a number of vision skills that will be relevant to athletes.

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Vision Skills for Athletes

  • Eye-Hand-Body Coordination

This is how your hands, feet, and other parts of the body respond to the information gathered through your eyes. Eye-hand-body coordination, often referred to as simply hand-eye coordination, is an essential skill in many sports, especially those where precise timing and control are required to perform at high levels. One example of the importance of this skill can be seen in baseball, where batters are required to hit pitches thrown at speeds as fast as 100mph, leaving them mere moments to decide whether to swing or not.

  • Eye Tracking

Eye tracking is an essential skill in any sport involving a ball or fast moving opponents, enabling athletes to track a moving target with minimal head motion so they remain capable of taking necessary actions quickly. For example, in Tennis, the entire aim is to keep track of a small, fast-moving ball, so you can hit it back onto your opponent’s side of the field, making eye tracking a vital skill.

  • Peripheral Vision

Peripheral vision is your ability to see objects on the edges of your visual field, “out of the corner of your eye.” This grants increased awareness of what is going on around you, especially vital if there are multiple moving objects to keep track of. For example, in fast moving team sports like soccer, it’s important to have good peripheral vision so that players can keep track of both their teammates and opponents as they move up and down the field. Another great example is a pitcher in baseball, who must use their peripheral vision to be able to see if someone is stealing bases. 

  • Dynamic Visual Acuity

Dynamic visual acuity is the skill which enables an athlete to clearly see and track moving objects while they are also in motion. This skill is especially important in sports like tennis, hockey, and cycling.

  • Visual Reaction Time

Visual reaction time is a skill related to hand-eye coordination, and describes the ability to rapidly interpret and take an action based on visual input. This is a skill vital to being able to hit a baseball or return a tennis serve. Pilots and tactical military and law enforcement also require superior visual reaction time. 

  • Visual Memory

Visual memory is a person’s ability to both remember and process fast moving, complex pictures of people and objects. In games with a lot of motion, and in which there are many players involved, this skill enables an athlete to know where teammates and opponents are positioned, and use that information to move up the field at speed while avoiding the opponents. This is a particularly useful skill in team sports like basketball, hockey, lacrosse, and soccer.

  • Visual Concentration

As its name implies, visual concentration is a person’s ability to remain focused on a specific target without becoming distracted by other things happening in their greater field of vision. In sports, this is the ability to stay locked onto the ball despite the movement of fans in the stands, shadows moving along the ground, and other players. In golf, for example, it is heightened visual concentration that allows a professional player to tune out everything except the ball so they can make the perfect shot.

  • Visualization

Believe it or not, visualizing yourself doing something can actually help you do it. Visualization is a skill which lets you see yourself, in your mind’s eye, performing an action while your eyes are seeing something else in real time. This can be especially helpful for those engaging in sports like gymnastics, where they are attempting to perform acrobatic feats. 

Sports Vision Training for Athletes

Sports Vision Training for Athletes

While the field of neuro-optometry and vision therapy is primarily thought of as something used to help people improve vision skills in which they are lacking, it can also be utilized in a more proactive sense. Athletes who may have 20/20 vision can receive huge benefits from training based on these medical disciplines, by improving their vision skills, they can achieve optimal performance in their chosen sport.

 

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Summary

Vision skills play a major role in an athlete’s ability to perform in their sport of choice, with these skills giving them a better ability to keep track of the ball, their opponents, and to react quickly enough in response to visual input, among other things. Vision skills for sports can also be improved through vision therapy, to give athletes an edge over the competition. If this is something of interest to you, give us a call to schedule a sports vision consultation.

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  • Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.


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  • I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.


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  • Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.


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  • Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.


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  • Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.


    Justin E.

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