Do you wish you could improve your batting average in the weekend cricket league; cut a few strokes off your golf score; or take your tennis game to the next level? Vision, just like speed and strength, is an important ingredient in how well you play your sport.
Your vision is composed of many skills, and just as exercise and practice can increase your speed and strength, it can improve your vision skills.
The following types of exercises can be helpful when incorporated into a total programme of sports vision care.
An evaluation by a sports vision optometrist can pinpoint your individual problems and needs as related to your sport.
- In racquet sports, Depth Perception enables you to quickly and accurately judge the distance between yourself, the ball, your opponents, teammates, boundary lines and other objects. When you are shooting or hunting, if you consistently struggle to estimate the distance to your target, poor depth perception may be at fault.
- If you are playing a sport like tennis, soccer, rugby or hockey, it is important that you are able to clearly see objects while you and/or the objects are moving fast. Without good Dynamic Visual Acuity, you may have a difficult time in sports like these.
- When you are playing any sport with a ball or a fast moving opponent, it is important that you be able to follow objects without much head motion. Eye Tracking helps you maintain better balance and react to the situation more quickly.
- Eye-Hand-Body Coordination is how your hands, feet and body and other muscles respond to the information gathered through your eyes. It is an important part of most sports because it affects both timing and body control.
- The split second that it takes you to change focus from an object far away to one nearby may delay your reaction time and cause you to frequently drop a pass or mis-hit a shot. Focus Flexibility may be the problem.
- When a soccer player sees a teammate out of the corner of his eye, he is using his Peripheral Vision. Since much of what happens in sports does not happen directly in front of you, it's important to increase your ability to see action to the side without having to turn your head.
- When you commit an error on an easy ground ball or miss a short putt, it may be that you are distracted by things that are happening around you. Our eyes normally react to anything that happens in our field of vision, in this case spectators, other participants and even the wind blowing leaves on an overhanging branch. Visual Concentration is the ability to screen out these distractions and stay focused on the ball or the target.
- 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.
- The bowler releases the ball and you swing...a little late and you are caught behind...or worse you miss the ball completely. Or, maybe you just can't quite return that tennis serve. You need to improve your Visual Reaction Time, or the speed with which your brain interprets and reacts to your opponent's action.
- 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. Visualization is the skill that enables you to see yourself performing well in your "mind's eye" while your eyes are seeing and concentrating on something else, usually the ball.
Always wear the proper eye protection for your sport. Your optometrist can advise you about what is best for you.