When it comes to athletic excellence, talent and ability are often associated with visual skills. How often have you heard about a basketball player’s “court vision,” a quarterback’s ability to “see the whole field” or a baseball player’s “eye at the plate”?
Good vision skills are necessary for most sports, both competitive and non-competitive, and different sports have specific requirements. With the help of advanced vision testing equipment, eye care professionals have prepared detailed assessments of vision skills for athletes of all ages.
So when you hear about an athlete’s great vision, it’s probably one or more of the following skills on display:
- Dynamic vision: The ability to see moving objects clearly. An effective goalkeeper can see a ball coming at high speed toward him as clearly as a static ball, as though time had stopped at that moment.
- Vision tracking: The ability to track a moving object, no matter how fast it’s moving. The difference between vision tracking and dynamic vision is that vision tracking enables you to follow the tracks of moving objects.
- Vision focusing: The ability to change focus quickly and accurately between objects at different distances. For example, a hurdler needs to see all 11 hurdles at different distances clearly and accurately.
- Peripheral vision: The ability to see and observe out of the corner of your eye when looking at a fixed object. In team sports like basketball or volleyball, a player must be able to see his team member passing him the ball even when holding the gaze of an opponent right in front of him.
- Focusing regulation: The ability to retain eye coordination during high-speed activities or while under high physiological pressure.
- Depth perception: The ability to judge the distance and speed of objects quickly and accurately. For example, a diver needs to judge the distance from the water surface accurately to be able to complete the diving motions correctly.
Although we’re born with these skills, there are ways to improve them. For example, watching TV with your head turned to the right, then to the left can help sharpen peripheral vision. Performing simple tasks at arm’s length instead of up close can improve depth perception. Check with your eye doctor for other ways to train your eyes for any of these skills.
If you’re looking to improve your athletic performance, you might want to start with improving your vision.