During a 90-minute race, a Formula 1 driver's body meets many challenges. Controlling a vehicle that may reach speeds of over 200 miles per hour requires not only the highest level of fitness but also the ability to react — literally — in the blink of an eye.
Without top-notch visual skills, drivers aren’t able to respond effectively to the constantly changing conditions on the race track. Sports vision training can help race car drivers and other athletes hone their visual skills to improve their performance.
What is Sports Vision Training?
Sports vision training is a tailored program that enhances neural communication between your eyes, brain, and body, and is specifically tailored to your specific activity. Athletes who receive sports vision training can absorb information faster and react more precisely to what they see on the field or track.
The training entails a specific set of strategies and exercises that teach the brain and body to respond to the environment around them more quickly and effectively. Visual skills such as hand-eye coordination, depth perception, dynamic visual acuity and peripheral awareness are all [emphasized] during the training.
Visional Skills Needed for F1 Drivers
F1 drivers need to have excellent peripheral vision and reaction time to succeed on the race track.
Peripheral vision is the ability to see things where you are not directly looking, but can see “out of the corner of your eye.” Well-developed peripheral awareness enables drivers to see other cars or obstacles at the edge of their visual field and to process the race's rapidly shifting dynamics.
When it comes to racing at high speeds, every second counts. Even a slight lag in reaction time can be disastrous.
The reaction speed of F1 drivers is typically 3x faster than that of other individuals.
Sports vision training exercises hone the brain’s ability to respond to visual stimuli, and to transmit the necessary information the body needs to respond. Speeding up their brain's synaptic reaction time allows drivers to pivot more quickly on the racetrack in the face of unexpected situations.
Exercises for Peripheral Awareness and Reaction Time
To improve peripheral awareness, drivers use many different exercises and tools. Here are two that we recommend.
A lightboard is a device that flashes a succession of lights, powered by electricity. Touch receptors are incorporated into many of them, providing an element of engagement that can improve the driver’s peripheral awareness and reaction time.
Here’s how it works: A person stands in front of the board and concentrates on a single location. Then, in their side view (peripheral vision) lights flash in random positions. The patient is required to recognize and then rapidly and efficiently touch those lights.
Seeing such lights can help drivers boost their ability to process information and make quick decisions. Simply touching the lights can significantly boost their hand-eye coordination.
Tennis Ball Drill
A basic tennis ball drill is an easy way to increase reaction times. Drivers face a wall and position themselves close to it. Then, from behind them, an instructor or a training partner tosses balls at the wall.
The task of the driver is to respond quickly and collect the ball as it bounces off the wall. The unpredictable nature of this practice keeps their minds sharp. Because of their near proximity to the wall, they must rely on their fast reaction speed and peripheral vision to succeed.
Becoming an F1 driver isn’t just about improving speed on the track. It’s about training the mind, body and eyes to work together as a team. Contact Sports Vision Center at EYEcenter Optometric to learn more about sports vision training and become the driver you wish to be.
Sports Vision Center at EYEcenter Optometric serves patients from Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, and Elk Grove, California and surrounding communities.
Q: Why is sports vision so important for athletes?
- A: Athletes with excellent visual skills have an advantage in their field. Sports requiring great eye teaming, depth perception, and concentration skills include motor racing, skiing, football, basketball, hockey, baseball, tennis and soccer. In some sports, focusing, judging distances and tracking moving objects might mean the difference between life and death on the field or race track.
Q: Who can benefit from sports vision training?
- A: Sports vision training is intended for athletes of all ages and abilities, including youth and adult athletes, no matter the sport they participate in.