A deficiency in visual skills can result in athletic underperformance. This may demotivate young athletes, potentially leading them to abandon the sport they love.
It takes way more than physical strength and speed to be at the top of your game. Whether a child plays soccer, hockey, basketball, football or tennis, he or she needs excellent visual skills to excel in their sport.
Important Visual Skills for Athletic Performance
Take a look at some of the vital visual skills required for most sports.
- Visual reaction time: The speed at which the brain processes visual input from the eyes
- Visual tracking: accurately tracking a fast-moving object or person'
- Binocular vision: simultaneous accurate focusing and tracking with both eyes
- Depth perception: identifying the exact location and distance of an object or person
- Hand-eye and body-eye coordination: coordinating visual information with other motor skills
- Eye focusing (accommodation): the ability to quickly and accurately adjust eye focus and maintain clarity.
- Peripheral vision: is the part of your vision that lies beyond your direct line of sight — what you see from the edge of your visual field
- Visual Processing/Perceptual Skills: the ability to make sense of information gathered through our eyes
For example, soccer, basketball, and tennis require strong visual tracking skills to keep eyes focused on the ball.
Football receivers and quarterbacks need a high level of tracking and depth perception to successfully complete a pass. Whereas a football center, guard, or tackle requires high peripheral vision awareness to succeed. Great quarterbacks also need great peripheral vision to avoid being sacked, not give away where they intend to pass, and to look for the open receiver.
Soccer, basketball, hockey and baseball, all of which involve shooting or passing/throwing at a moving target, need strong peripheral vision awareness, strong eye tracking and visual concentration skills.
In all sports, the ability to recognize and evaluate the play develop and unfold, or offensive/defensive awareness, is especially important and involves integrating our visual skills and is an important aspect of visual processing.
What Is Sports Vision Training?
Sports Vision Training, a form of vision therapy, is made of individually prescribed and monitored exercises aimed at developing specific visual skills and processing in athletes of all ages. These personalized exercises retrain the brain to effectively interact with the eyes and improve vision functioning.
This therapy consists of weekly in-office appointments and daily at-home exercises. The program can range from several weeks to several months. Sports vision training involves close monitoring and follow-up appointments to ensure steady improvements in the patient’s visual functions.
Sports Vision Therapists help young athletes improve their visual abilities and instill a competitive advantage in their sport. They also help improve their self confidence, as they recognize the improvements they have achieved through ongoing hard work.