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Sports Vision

Martial Arts: Improve Your Reflexes With Sports Vision Training

Martial Arts Improve Your Reflexes With Sports Vision Training 640×350As a martial artist, you want to show your hard-earned skills at every match. While martial artists know the importance of being physically fit, many don’t realize that their visual skills also play a central role in their performance.

Your eyes’ ability to focus, react instantaneously to another’s moves, and see movement from the edge of your visual field are all critical skills to succeed in martial arts. That’s where sports vision training comes in. Regardless of your age or level of ability, sports vision training can boost your visual skills to help you up your game.

What is Sports Vision Training?

Sports vision training is a customized program designed to enhance the communication between your eyes, brain, and body. Athletes who receive sports vision training are able to process visual information faster and react more precisely to what they see on the mat, field or track.

Sports vision training employs a unique set of strategies and exercises that enhances eye-brain communication so the body can respond more quickly, effectively and accurately. Visual skills such as depth perception, hand-eye coordination, dynamic visual acuity and peripheral awareness are all [emphasized] during sports vision training.

Visual Skills for Martial Arts

Visual skills allow the brain to quickly process the images received by the eyes and then relay this information to the body. People who do judo, karate, kung fu, Muay Thai, Krav Maga, Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido among other forms of martial arts rely heavily on these and other visual skills to succeed:

Dynamic Visual Acuity

This is at times referred to as “vision in motion,” or the capacity to see, understand and respond quickly to moving objects. In martial arts, fighters need dynamic visual acuity to accurately follow their opponents’ sudden kicks, throws or punches.

Eye-Hand Coordination

There is a three-way information pathway between our limbs, eye and brain. Any miscommunication between these three can impact eye-hand coordination. If the information is not conveyed quickly and accurately enough, the body may not be able to react in time to fend off an opponent.

From parrying a punch in boxing to grappling in Jiu-Jitsu, hand-eye coordination is required for a wide range of maneuvers and situations. It’s also important for enhancing your general timing in offensive and defensive reactions.

Peripheral Awareness

Your ability to recognize what’s going on at the edge of your vision is known as peripheral awareness. A fighter with a well-developed peripheral field will be able to see everything at once and perceive the battle’s flow.

Combatants of all levels, amateur and professional, can benefit from improving their visual abilities. Giving martial artists the ability to develop their sports vision skills has been shown to help them perform at a higher level.

Contact us at Sports Vision Center at EYEcenter Optometric to schedule your appointment with one of our sports vision experts and discover how sports vision training can help you excel in martial arts.

Our practice serves patients from Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, and Elk Grove, California and surrounding communities.
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Can Vision Be Trained to Improve Sports Performance?

Runner stretching on bridgeTo detect the exact angle of a tennis ball in midday glare, observe the subtle movements of a goalie or focus accurately on a target, you need great visual skills.

How Vision Affects the Performance of an Athlete

Many athletes find that in spite of consistent exercise and hard work, something is preventing them from reaching their goals. Often, it’s their visual system.

In those with a healthy visual system, the eyes accurately relay images to the brain, which quickly turns these messages into actions, such as positioning your arm and hands to catch a ball. This eye-brain-body communication is dependent on the following visual skills:

  • Eye focusing: smoothly changing the focus from object to object
  • Depth perception: detecting the speed and distance of objects
  • Eye-hand or eye-body coordination: the ability to react efficiently to what one sees
  • Eye-tracking: tracking a moving object
  • Dynamic visual acuity: seeing moving objects clearly
  • Peripheral awareness: detecting things in the corner of your eye

Good depth perception helps you gauge the distance between you and the basket, while poor peripheral awareness makes it harder to see players approaching from the side. Proper eye tracking and dynamic visual acuity help you follow the action on the field and hit a target.

Yet even the best visual skills won’t help an athlete if their eyesight isn’t clear. That’s where glasses and contact lenses come into play.

What Glasses and Contact Lenses Are Best for Sports?

If you wear prescription glasses, you should also have a pair of sports glasses to use while you train or participate in a game or a race. Eyewear designed for sports:

  • Maximize vision so you can see clearly for your best performance
  • Prevents eye injuries due to a fast-moving ball or even an errant finger from an opposing player, potentially leading to vision loss
  • Reduces glare all year round

Glasses with silicone padding can keep debris from making contact with your eyes. Choose polarized glasses to reduce glare from reflected light, such as off water, snow or a road surface, or photochromic lenses that will automatically darken as your surroundings get brighter. Impact-resistant lenses can add to the durability and strength of your sports glasses, which are often recommended for intense activity.

Which Contacts Are Best for Sports?

Some contact lenses can be more versatile and comfortable than eyeglasses for sports. They don’t slip, as glasses sometimes do, and may improve your peripheral vision. To protect your eyes from debris, glare or impact, you may need to wear additional protective eyewear or sunglasses along with contact lenses.

Soft contact lenses are often used for sports since they move less on the eye, but some athletes prefer gas-permeable lenses because they may provide clearer vision and offer improved eye health for some patients. Check with your eye doctor which type of contact lenses are best for you based on your vision correction needs and the sports you play.

For less glare and greater color contrast, you may want to consider custom-tinted soft contact lenses. These lenses filter light rays in a way similar to certain tinted optical lenses that may help you see a ball or a target more accurately.

For example, amber tints can be helpful for people who play tennis, soccer, and baseball, while gray-green are sometimes recommended for golf, biking and running.

Can Sports Vision Training Improve Athletic Performance?

Just as you lift weights, run hills and do calisthenics to build your strength, endurance and flexibility, you can get your eyes into shape with sports vision training. A sports vision optometrist can help you improve your visual skills by prescribing exercises to hone your ability to focus, track objects, perceive objects in motion and at the periphery.

How Does Sports Vision Training Work?

A customized sports vision training program helps athletes of all ages and abilities boost the visual skills they need to excel at their chosen sports. During a comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist will assess both your eyesight and your visual skills. Your eye doctor will then prescribe a personalized program of eye exercises to sharpen your skills based on the exam results, the sports you play as well as your goals.

Studies have shown that sports vision training enhances an athlete’s ability to react faster and more efficiently by improving visual skills. In fact, it’s now an integral part of many sports programs.

Discover ways to boost your visual system so you’re in top shape for the next big game or race. To learn more or speak with a sports vision training eye care professional, contact Sports Vision Center at EYEcenter Optometric today!

Frequently Asked Questions with our team of eye doctors

Q: What are the most common eye injuries sustained in sports?

  • A: Among the most common eye injuries in sports are:
    – Eyelid bruises
    – Eye punctures
    – Eye scratches. These injuries can result from an impact, or debris getting into or penetrating the eye. Some can lead to permanent vision loss while others may only need superficial treatment. Either way, an eye doctor should assess all eye injuries.
  • According to a study done by the University of Cincinnati Division of Sports Medicine, football players who had undergone sports vision training to improve their peripheral vision sustained fewer injuries than those who did not do it.
  • This is because sports vision training helps the eyes and brain react more quickly to changes in the environment, resulting in more successes and fewer accidents.

Q: Is Sports Vision Training exclusively for professional athletes?

  • A: The best thing about sports vision training is that it can help both amateur and professional athletes take their game to the next level. This includes children, teens as well as adults.

References

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4 Tips To Improve Sports Performance

child skiing improving performanceIn sports, being even just a fraction of a second slower than your opponent can make all the difference between lifting a trophy as champion or heading back to the showers.

So what is the best way to achieve your goals? Here are 4 tips to improve your sports performance and be the athlete you aspire to be.

1. Eating and Drinking Right

When planning meals, try to avoid simple carbs and sugars like baked goods, many cereals and fruit juices from concentrate. Instead aim for more complex carbs such as fresh (not canned) fruits and vegetables and whole-grains such as quinoa. These complex carbohydrates break down more slowly, supplying your body with a more steady supply of energy, keeping you full longer.

You should also make sure to have plenty of protein-rich foods in your diet, such as fish, meat and eggs. They support muscle growth and help your muscles recover more quickly after workouts.

When choosing what to drink, water is always the best option. It lacks the added sugars of sodas and juices, wards off dehydration, supports muscle growth and helps prevent muscle tears and cramps during workouts.

To maintain optimal hydration throughout the day, women should aim to drink approximately 2.7 liters of water each day, and men should aim for approximately 3.7 liters.

2. Change Up Your Workouts

Doing the same thing day in and day out for your workout has a number of disadvantages.

First of all, it can get boring. If workouts become monotonous, it’s much more difficult to stay motivated day after day.

Maintaining the exact same workout routine every day can also reduce the effectiveness of those workouts.

Every day or two, you should change the muscle groups you’re targeting and the type of exercise you’re doing. Set up a workout schedule for yourself that emphasizes cardio on some days and strength training on others. Concentrate on your arms one day, your legs the next day and your core another day.

Changing up your workout routine can make it easier to overcome mental blocks around working out, and make those workouts more effective overall.

3. Don’t Neglect Recovery Time After Exercise

Many people don’t realize that recovery time between workouts is just as important as the workouts themselves. Every time you work out, your muscles experience stress and tiny micro-tears. This is why your muscles feel sore and tender after a good workout.

Resting time between workouts allows the muscles to heal thicker and stronger than before. If you ignore muscle soreness and exercise despite the pain, you run a very serious risk of long-term injury that can prevent you from participating in sports for a long time.

Resting after workouts also allows your muscles to recharge their glycogen stores, which are used up during your workout. Glycogen is essentially your muscles’ energy source, so resting between workouts will ensure that your muscles have the energy to work.

Consider skipping your workout every few days to give your body time to rest and recover from the rigors of your exercise routine.

4. Sports Vision Training

Being prepared for sports means more than lifting weights and going for a run. If your eyes have trouble following a moving ball or you react too slowly to a play, your big moment may pass you by.

Sports vision training is a scientifically proven vision therapy regimen that uses in-office and at-home eye exercises to strengthen the connection between the eyes and the brain. These exercises have been shown to improve an athlete’s performance and reaction time.

During a sports vision exam your eye doctor will evaluate your overall vision profile. This includes checking for refractive errors that may affect your ability to clearly see objects close up or far away, and visual skill deficiencies that may make it hard to track objects as they move, or to gauge distances.

Once your eye doctor has evaluated your vision and visual skills, they can construct a customized sports vision therapy regimen that addresses your specific needs, including an emphasis on the particular visual skills required for success in your sport.

To learn more about how sports vision training can boost the visual skills you need to exceed in sports, book an appointment with Sports Vision Center at EYEcenter Optometric today!

Our practice serves patients from Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, and Elk Grove, California and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with our team of eye doctors

Q: What vision skills does sports vision therapy help improve?

  • A: Strong visual skills are an essential part of success in just about any sport you play. Some important visual skills that sports vision training helps you improve include:
  • – Depth Perception – the ability to efficiently and accurately tell how far something is from you, and how fast it’s moving.
  • – Focusing – the ability to quickly and efficiently focus from one object to another.
  • – Eye Tracking – the ability to move your eyes in a continuous, smooth motion to keep moving objects in sight.
  • – Reaction Time – Quickly and accurately registering the presence and movement of an object, and translating that into appropriate action.
  • – Contrast Sensitivity – the ability to see an object and distinguish between it and the background.
  • – Peripheral Awareness – the ability to register objects and their movement in your side vision.
  • – Eye-Hand or Eye-Body Coordination – the ability to coordinate eye and body movements with visual information acquired by the eyes and sent to the brain.

Q: Is sports vision therapy effective for high school and college athletes?

  • A: Absolutely! Sports vision therapy is recommended for both professional and amateur athletes, at any age and skill level. Deficiencies in visual skills can cause high school and college athletes to get frustrated and abandon the sport they love. Sports vision therapy is an excellent way to clear the visual obstacles that may be preventing their success, paving the way to greater enjoyment of the game and greater success.

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Why Goalkeepers Need Strong Visual Skills

Goalkeeper blocking a goalSports require athletes to be in peak physical condition to play at their best. This doesn’t just include arms and legs, but eyes too. This is especially true for goalkeepers, who need lightning-fast reflexes and incredibly accurate vision skills to guard the goal and catch or deflect the puck or ball and prevent that scoring shot.

Our eye care professionals at Sports Vision Center at EYEcenter Optometric can help goalies and other athletes, both amateur and pro, improve their functional vision with sports vision training.

What Visual Skills Does a Goalkeeper Need?

Goalies need to master a range of visual skills in order to prevent the opposing team from scoring. Convergence and divergence, as well as the ability to alternate between them quickly and accurately, are among the most important.

Convergence

Convergence is the eyes’ ability to efficiently and accurately focus on an object as it moves toward you, and up close. Professional soccer players send the ball flying at the net at an average of 70 miles per hour, and a hockey puck in the NHL can be slapped at the goal at a blistering 100 miles per hour. This means that for penalty shots and other fast-moving, close-up plays a goalkeeper’s eyes can have mere fractions of a second to accurately converge on the ball or puck before the goalkeeper needs to decide where to move their body and how to react.

Poor convergence can mean that the goalie’s eyes are too slow to converge on the target, or that they don’t converge accurately, leading to double vision as the ball or puck is incoming.

Either of these situations can make it difficult, if not impossible, to make the save during a fast-paced play.

Divergence

Divergence is the eyes’ ability to efficiently and accurately focus on objects at a distance, and as they move away. This skill is vital for goalkeepers, who need to save shots taken from halfway down the field or ice, and to accurately judge the position and flight of the ball or puck. Divergence also allows the goalkeeper to track shots that rebound out, as well as the movements of the puck or ball in case the opposing team quickly takes another shot.

Poor divergence makes it challenging for the goalie to find or track the target from farther out, or as it moves away from them, from close range into the distance.

Alternating

Being able to efficiently alternate between convergence and divergence is also vital in a fast-moving game. Consider the following play-by-play:

  • Using divergence, a goalkeeper can track a ball or puck from far down the field or ice, until a shot is taken.
  • As the shot comes closer in, they engage their convergence to track it moving toward them.
  • They make a successful save, resulting in a rebound out. Divergence is engaged as the ball or puck moves away from them once again.
  • Within fractions of a second, an opposing player may recover the puck or ball, and attempt another shot. The shot is incoming again, and convergence is re-engaged.

The goalkeeper has only seconds or even fractions of a second to respond, re-focus, and respond again.

How Can Sports Vision Training Help?

Sports vision training is a personalized regimen of eye exercises prescribed by eye doctors to help athletes perfect the visual skills that are most essential for their sport.

Working through the prescribed exercises retrains the athlete’s brain to work faster and more effectively with their eyes, improving convergence, divergence and other visual-motor and spatial skills.

Sports vision training can help goalkeepers of all ages and abilities gain the visual skills they need to stay on top of their game, block shots and save the day.

Have questions about how we can help you play your best game? Visit us or call our office today.

Our practice serves patients from Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, and Elk Grove, California and surrounding communities.

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Sports Vision Exercises to Try At Home

woman and her daughter exercising at homeNote: the activities here do not replace an eye exam and in-office sports vision training program from an eye doctor experienced in sports vision.

When athletes consider the skills they need to succeed, agility and strength often come to mind. But those aren’t the only skills that matter. Many athletes don’t realize that, when it comes to conditioning, their eyes are an important asset.

An athlete’s capacity to notice, understand and respond to events on the field, both near and far, has a substantial influence on the quality of their play. The intricate capabilities of their visual system are required to dunk that basket, return that serve, receive that pass or knock it out of the ballpark.

There is an entire area of optometry that provides sports vision training, with research to back it up. According to a study published by the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, visual abilities like peripheral perception and reaction time can be improved by means of appropriate visual training.

Sports vision exercises can help improve your peripheral vision, visual memory, hand-eye coordination and much more. Who wouldn’t want to improve their game by doing eye exercises?

Sports Vision Training Exercises at Home

Your eye doctor will recommend an in-office sports vision training program for you based on the sport and the visual abilities you want to develop. Here are some very basic exercises you can do at home until you get to your optometrist’s office.

While home-based exercises are a good first step toward upping your performance, they aren’t a substitute for a sports vision training program designed by an optometrist that is tailored to your individual strengths and weaknesses.

20-20-20 Rule

Your eyes, like your body, need to be as agile as possible. Switching your focus between near and distant objects is a simple way to enhance your focusing skills at home. Look up from your computer and focus on anything 20 inches away, then something farther away, such as looking out a window.

Most sports rely on the ability to change focus from near to far objects, such as a ball or other players.

Visual Memory Games

One way we understand and comprehend information is via visual memory. It’s all about recalling where players are on the field when receiving a pass, or how much spin or curvature the ball had during the previous play. When you play memory games like a children’s matching game, you’re teaching a part of your brain to remember information accurately and quickly. Playing memory games can help improve your speed.

The Turning Tray

Practice reading words in motion. Attach a piece of paper with words to a turning tray and move it at different speeds. Alternatively, attach the paper to a moving door or a bouncing ball. Experiment with font, color, size and familiarity of words to see how many you can read and how quickly.

This exercise can help improve your dynamic visual acuity, which is needed in fast-paced sports like hockey, basketball and tennis. Athletes who play these sports need to be able to see objects clearly while they are moving quickly.

Sidelong Glance

Peripheral vision allows you to see another player from the opposing team rushing toward you, or where your teammate is preparing to pass, from the edge of your visual field. When you’re using a computer or walking outside, practice ‘viewing’ from the sides of your eyes, both right and left. Look for details in your peripheral vision or lean your head to one side to ‘scan’ the activity with a sidelong glance.

One-Eyed Monster

Depth perception is one of the most essential visual tricks your binocular vision provides. This helps you know how far the goal post is. Train each eye separately by kicking or catching the ball with only one eye open. Alternatively, practice this skill by holding a drinking straw at arm’s length and trying to drop a tiny pebble or balled-up piece of paper through the straw with your free hand.

Ping-Pong

Ping-Pong, or table tennis, isn’t just a classic fun game, it’s an excellent way to enhance your eye-hand coordination. It’s a fast-paced game that trains the brain to determine the speed of a moving object and respond accordingly.

Ready to improve your game? Schedule an appointment with Sports Vision Center at EYEcenter Optometric, where our eye doctor will assess your visual skills and design a customized sports vision training program to boost your performance in your chosen sport.

Our practice serves patients from Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, and Elk Grove, California and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with our team of eye doctors

Q: What is sports vision training?

  • A: Sports vision training is a custom-made program that enhances communication between the brain, body, and eyes when participating in sports. Athletes, both professional and amateur, benefit from sports vision training because it helps them process information and react faster and more accurately to what they see on the field.Sports vision training involves a set of strategies and exercises that teach the brain and body to respond to what the eyes see more efficiently and accurately.

Q: Is sports vision training beneficial for everyone?

  • A: Whether you play basketball, football, hockey or tennis, sports vision training is perfect for anyone of any age seeking to take their performance to the next level.

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How Sports Vision Training Can Improve a Quarterback’s Game

How Sports Vision Training Can Improve a Quarterbacks Game 640×350Quarterbacks (QBs) work hard to increase their physical strength but often don’t realize that improving their visual skills can also improve their effectiveness on the field.

In addition to having a powerful throwing arm, quarterbacks must be able to precisely judge distances and the speeds of other players. They need to be aware of everyone and everything around them, as well as every player’s specific location and course of movement — all while following the ball.

Visual skills like accurate peripheral vision and split-second reaction time are crucial to a quarterback’s success. Sports vision training provides the foundation for these abilities and allows players to be the best athletes they can be.

Contact Dr. Randy Fuerst to see how sports vision training can help you improve your game.

Which Visual Skills Can Sports Vision Training Improve?

Here are examples of how a quarterback depends on visual skills.

Eye Focusing

QBs need to be able to sustain sharp focus and to shift their eyes and focus rapidly and precisely to judge the exact position of the tight end as the linebackers close the space.

Depth Perception

The quarterback’s ability to accurately judge the position of his receivers sprinting full speed into the end zone depends on sharp and precise depth perception.

Peripheral Vision

All eyes are on the quarterback in possession of the ball, but it’s just as important for the quarterback to keep track of the defensive players as they attempt a sack. QBs with good peripheral vision can see where all the defenders are at any given time.

Visual Reaction Time

Visual reaction time is the speed with which a quarterback’s brain analyzes and reacts to the opponent’s actions. A QB’s next move will be determined by how quickly and well their brain integrates visual and motor functions.

Gross-Visual Motor Integration

While on the move, a quarterback needs to analyze all of the information the eyes are transmitting, and act on it quickly. This requires a high level of coordination between the QB’s brain, eyes and body. The more the quarterback’s vision and movement are synchronized, the more successful the plays will be.

All of this takes a matter of seconds. With good visual skills, a quarterback can make that play seem flawless.

Enhancing the Performance of a Quarterback

We offer sports vision training to help all kinds of athletes achieve their goals and take their game to the next level. A functional eye exam will evaluate visual skills, after which we can create a personalized sports vision training program.

At Sports Vision Center at EYEcenter Optometric, we help players be the athletes they know they can be. We offer sports vision training to patients from Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, and Elk Grove, California and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with our team of eye doctors

Q: What is sports vision training?

  • A: Sports vision training is a custom-made program that improves coordination between your brain, eyes and body while playing sports. Through a series of eye exercises and techniques, it helps athletes react faster and more accurately to what they see on the field.

Q: Who can benefit from sports vision training?

  • A: Whether you’re a quarterback or a linebacker, an avid baseball or hockey player, sports vision training is perfect for athletes of any age and ability seeking to improve their sports performance.

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What it Takes to Succeed as a Formula 1 Driver

What it Takes to Succeed as a Formula 1 Driver 640×350During 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

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.

Reaction Time

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.

Lightboard Exercise

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.

Frequently Asked Questions with our team of eye doctors

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.

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3 Visual Skills That Can Make You a Better Athlete

3 Visual Skills That Can Make You a Better Athlete 640×350To succeed in most sports, you need to be aware of your surroundings and aptly judge distances at a glance. Luckily, these skills can be enhanced through sports vision training.

Sports vision training teaches athletes how to process what their eyes see, better and faster. It not only improves the visual skills needed to excel in your sport but also helps you stay safe by diminishing your risk of concussion and other accidents.

Sports vision training enables you to thrive in sports like football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and tennis. In fact, just about any sport!

By developing your visual skills, you’ll have an easier time catching, throwing, and hitting an object. Improving your tracking, concentrating, peripheral awareness and depth perception skills can help you better gauge the distance between a basketball and the net, or the proximity of another player as you sprint to the field goal.

So it’s really no surprise that sports vision training gives athletes an advantage over their opponents.

What is Sports Vision Training?

Sports vision training is a customized program that improves the communication between the eyes, body, and brain. The program is carefully formulated for your given sport and employs strategies and exercises that train the brain and body to adapt to what the eyes see more quickly and accurately.

Ways Sports Vision Training Can Help You Become a Better Athlete

Depending on your specific needs, sports vision training can improve these and many other visual skills:

1. Focusing and Tracking

Focus flexibility (also called accommodation), refers to the eyes’ ability to quickly shift focus. Improving your eye-focusing skills will help you concentrate better and refocus your vision more quickly and precisely. This will, in turn, improve your ability to process moving objects.

Convergence (or tracking) is the ability to track objects or people with eyes operating in tandem.

2. Depth Perception

Depth perception is the ability to determine the distance between yourself and other individuals or objects in three dimensions.

People with superior depth perception have an easier time gauging the exact position in 3D of an approaching object.

In fact, depth perception is one of the visual skills baseball players rely on the most to make a great catch or steal a base.

3. Peripheral Awareness

Peripheral awareness training helps you how recognize and analyze objects and people from the ‘corners’ of your eyes. Without good peripheral vision, players on the field may not perceive a ball or other players approaching them from the left or right.

No matter your sport, the sharper your visual skills, the better your performance. Contact your eye doctor to determine which of your visual skills strengthening.

Contact Sports Vision Center at EYEcenter Optometric today to discover how sports vision training can help you become the athlete you’d like to be.

Sports Vision Center at EYEcenter Optometric serves patients from Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, and Elk Grove, California and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with our team of eye doctors

Q: Can sports vision training improve 20/20 vision?

  • A: For most people, having 20/20 vision is ideal, since it gives them the excellent visual acuity they seek for daily tasks. Sports vision training, however, doesn’t improve visual acuity; it cannot make someone less nearsighted, but it can enhance the visual skills athletes need to succeed.
  • Q: Who can benefit from sports vision training?
  • A: Sports vision training is ideal for anyone at any age who wishes to improve their performance, in just about any sport. It’s particularly effective for athletes who play soccer, football, golf, hockey, baseball, and ping-pong — all of which involve fast-moving objects like balls and hockey pucks.

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Performance Vision – How sports training using stroboscipic technology can affect reaction time and processing to give athletes an edge

Abstract

The use of liquid crystal stroboscopic sports vision training dates back to our introduction in 1995. With vision being the predominant sensory modality driving a motor response—whether hitting a baseball, shooting a basketball, a goalie stopping an incoming puck hurtling towards him—coaches, sports psychologists, researchers and sports vision doctors have worked to develop strategies to improve performance.

The entire neuro-visual processing—what can be measured? Can you improve this processing? If so, what are the most effective regimens? How long does it last?

What is it that the athlete visually discriminates on for meaning and expertise? Saccadic eye movements are the most common visual skill used to acquire the target. When making these eye movements, the brain ‘masks’ the visual world for a few milliseconds until the eye come to a stop. This is known as saccadic omission and suppression. Are there effective strategies to minimize the effect and speed up the saccadic eye movements? Can we improve fixation accuracy? Decrease latencies? Improve target acquisition, sometimes referred to as dynamic visual acuity? There is quickly becoming a body of research that is uncovering what stroboscopic vision training (SVT) can and cannot impact. Both anecdotal and statistically significant research studies are shedding light on SVT enhancing central visual processing, visual concentration, and athletic performance tied to the subskills impacted by SVT.

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.

Introduction

In the book, Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance, by Atul Gawande, MD, each chapter documents substantive efforts to improve performance in varied fields (1). This unrelenting drive to improve—whether a surgeon, a cab driver, a manufacturer—is woven into the makeup of society. As an optometrist involved in vision performance, what does ‘better’ look like? Since forty percent of the brain solely deals with vision (2.), can we learn to see better, visually process more quickly and adequately, and perform visually guided tasks more efficiently? If so—how? The process of translation from light to visual understanding and subsequent motor response is a fascinating process. There are inaccuracies, discrepancies between the eyes, lag times between stimulus presentation and response while the process ensues.

Background

The visual system begins, obviously, with the eyes. Light is focused through the optics of the cornea and crystalline lens, passing the light to the retina. You have between 110 and 130 million photoreceptors (rods and cones) per eye, within the layers of the retina. They release a photochemical, rhodopsin. Layered like lilies on a pond is a network of approximately one and one half million nerve fibers that serve to soak up the photochemical, stimulating an electrical output that travels, within milliseconds, into the brain for processing. Latency and amplitude of this signal can be measured, but the amazing aspect is from this electrochemical transmission, we derive in real time motion, color, inference, clarity, and, oftentimes meaning and understanding. Of critical import is keeping the image perfectly centered on the fovea. If the object, or the eye, or movement of the observer displaces the target just the slightest amount, blurring can take place, depth and spatial awareness is compromised, and the motor response thwarted.

Internally, there is a focusing system, referred to as accommodation. Akin to a trampoline which comprises three elements (metal frame, springs, and canvas)- the focusing muscle is known as the ciliary muscle, which attaches to zonular fibers. The crystalline lens is analogous to the canvas of the trampoline, while the ciliary muscle would mimic the metal frame, and the zonular fibers, the springs. As a target is brought closer and closer, focusing increases, and eye movement occurs, known as accommodative vergence. The human focusing system is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. External to each eye are six extraocular muscles. These muscles fulfill the binocular alignment, convergence, divergence, depth perception and stereopsis, along with the human tracking skills of smooth pursuit and saccadic eye movements. The central nervous system controls these extraocular muscles, and hence tracking and binocular vision. One of the only places in the body where the central nervous system and autonomic nervous system is innervationally connected is here in the eyes. Known as the AC/A ratio, the effect is when accommodation is increased, it innervationally causes the binocular vision to converge. Similarly, if you converge your eyes, increased accommodation is elicited. This is one of the elements of neurologic processing that enables vision. Depth perception unites with eye alignment and peripheral visual awareness.

The tracking system and their neural substrates are of critical interest to this paper. Let me start with an example. Suppose you are playing tennis. You hit a forehand shot towards your opponent’s backhand. Watching the other players’ response, you note that they get a delayed jump towards the ball. Sensing that they will not be able to get much force to their return shot, you decide to move up into the court for a possible kill shot. Getting into the forecourt, you track your opponent as he strikes the ball. He has decided to try a lob shot over your head. You rapidly rotate your head and body (along with your tracking eye movements) to follow the ball. Cuiffreda and Tannen describe this well (3.). These retinal, ocular and combined head and body movements primarily stimulate (1) the saccadic system to attempt to acquire foveation, (2) the pursuit system to match eye velocity to the velocity of the smoothly moving target, (3) the vestibular system to stabilize gaze during the initial transient phase of head and body rotation, and (4) the optokinetic system to stabilize gaze during the later, sustained phase of head and body rotation. This visual processing through the tracking system is quite sophisticated. As mentioned previously, garnering information through the visual system is most effective when images are held steady on the retina. Images moving over the retina at even a low rate of speed degrade visual acuity. Add concurrent head and/or body movement and the potential for retinal image disruption escalates. Rapid judgement of distance, depth, size, and object orientation, referred to as motion parallax sensitivity, absolutely depends upon the stability of retinal images. (4.) The fovea (the central structure within the macula) is the point of clearest vision. This area takes up less than one percent of the retina and is the only place where one can see down to one minute of arc or smaller. Maintaining retinal image integrity, i.e., keeping the image focused upon the fovea (foveation) is the overarching sole purposes of the tracking system. The various components of vestibular, optokinetic and visual fixation systems act to hold images steady on the retina. Smooth pursuits, saccades, and vergence eye movements work to shift gaze onto the fovea.

Stroboscopic Vision Therapy (SVP) Premise

We know that, with training, accuracy can be improved, speeds can be improved upon, as can latencies. Right Eye, Inc., (www.RightEye.com) utilizes high speed eye tracking, and their data capture system is reproducible, allowing for change analyses. Further, since their database is so enormous, they have received FDA approval to provide metrics that show how your tracking metrics compare for others your age. A recent article ( 5.) using Right Eye technology showed how oculomotor skillsets were predictive for professional baseball batting performance. The data now suggests tracking skillsets can be readily improved upon.

Pursuit movements originate in the parietal lobe and cerebellum. The faster tracking system, saccades, derive from the frontal lobe, cerebellum, and motor control nuclei (dorsal vermis) in the brainstem. While a subject utilizes pursuit movements to track an object moving slowly, the visual processing is ‘steady state on’. Saccadic eye movements, on the other hand, are substantially faster. The typical elicitation of a saccadic movement is, on average, a delay of 200 msec after presentation of the stimulus. [2,3re] Express saccades have a delay of just 100 msec. which is akin to a batter attempting to time a fast ball. Saccades can reach velocities of up to 500 deg/sec. There is also a frequently measured “slippage” between the two eyes as a saccadic eye movement occurs, known as pulse dysmetria. But, one of the most intriguing aspects of saccadic eye movements is known as saccadic suppression and omission. The brain effectively visually masks the neural noise. The key here is the brain is not ‘steady state on’ during saccadic eye movements, as it does not process the visual information concurrently with the saccadic movement. The subject uses their peripheral or peri-central vision to acquire the target. Then the brain estimates the location, and the eyes rapidly move to the desired location (hopefully). This can be as simple as a shortstop peripherally acquiring the first baseman after fielding a ball hit to him, making the requisite rapid saccadic eye movement followed by the motor response of throwing the ball. Or perhaps a basketball player quickly locking onto the basket rim peripherally, then snapping the saccadic eye movement onto the rim, landing there long enough to calibrate his/her shot. This could also be representative of a driver making rapid saccadic eye movements from oncoming traffic to cars in their lane, then to gauges, and back to a road sign. Saccadic eye movements are what is used when reading- -peripherally finding the next ‘sentence fragment’, then making the quick saccadic eye movement. Once fixation is established, the brain goes to its’ central processing, decodes the word(s), then performs the process all over again.

You can readily experience this.

image1

Fig. 1. Smooth Pursuit Tracking

Here is a simple fixation target. Select a target to follow with your eyes. Track the target as you move it slowly from side to side over a distance of 6-8”. While fixated on the target, notice the background beyond the target. You should see it appearing to move–moving opposite the direction of the target trajectory.

image2

Fig. 2 Saccadic Eye Tracking

For saccadic eye movements, select two targets to view. Here you separate the targets the same distance you had for the smooth pursuit movements (6-8”). Fixate on the left target. Now find the right target in your peripheral vision. Once you have found the right target in your peripheral vision, ‘snap’ your eyes quickly to the right target. Repeat the process, now making the saccadic eye movement to the left target. As you ‘oscillate’ back and forth, please be aware of background movement. You will note that the background does not appear to move as it did while making the smooth pursuit movement. This filtering is what was earlier described as saccadic suppression and omission. In effect, once the peripheral target Is acquired, the brain locks in the image of the first target. The eyes make the rapid eye movement shift to the second target. Once the target appears to be acquired, the brain resumes processing its’ central vision. If the eye movement is not adequately aligned, then a short adjustment saccadic eye movement takes place—before central vision is restored. This is referred to as either undershooting or overshooting. This short period of processing ‘disruption’, which the brains attempts to visually mask and filter out, keeps the distractions down, allowing the person to concentrate more effectively.

So why is this of interest? The reason is that when tracking a baseball, you are unable to maintain fixation on the ball from the moment it leaves the pitchers’ hand and crosses the plate. The better hitters in baseball begin to recognize the pitch- a curveball, slider, fast ball or change up, literally milliseconds from the release point. Then, the effort is to make a saccadic eye movement and re-acquire the ball, hopefully near the contact point of bat meeting ball. Just like while reading, the brain uses the visual information before making the saccadic eye movement. Then the brain ‘fills in‘ the gap. The goal is to utilize stroboscopic vision training (SVT) to help refine the visual information needed before saccadic suppression is initiated, then to work for faster and more accurate saccades, with improved fixation stability so once visual processing resumes, it does so at a faster and more discerning rate.

Ask a baseball player or tennis or soft ball player if they watch the ball all the way to their bat or racquet, and the likely response is absolutely! Or the volleyball player working to dig out a kill shot. “I watched it all the way!” many will emphatically insist.

With competitive sports, the higher the level, the game, in essence, speeds up. This places greater demands on the human visual system. Acting and responding accuracy depends on a measured focus upon reliable information from the playing environment. Thus, it follows that maximum performance critically relies on rapid, distributed, and precise visual perception and attention abilities. An essential aspect is the role of visual feedback –being able to rapidly assess and update the relative movements, distances, and masses of objects in the visual environment in order to gauge the appropriate force required for a successful motor response (6.)

Motor actions are guided by a combination of cognitive planning and feedback from the visual system updated in as close to real time as the surrounding environment dictates. Research investigating the role of feedback on visual–motor control has demonstrated that movements become progressively more visually guided as the athlete shows improved performance. (7.)

Another significant element in athletic events is that of balance. A substantial number of visual fibers synaptically connect to the inner ear for balance. Two major cortical neuron bundles that deal with vision are the parvocellular and magnocellular layers. The magnocellular layer is involved with balance, spatial awareness, and depth perception. When one gets out of balance, there is a strong intrinsic ‘pull’ to quickly look down at the surface beneath you in order to right oneself. In almost all team sports, the elite players are able to perform at a high-level despite being out of balance. Whether this is a wide receiver diving to make a catch, or an NBA player getting an accurate shot off while their body is horizontal and will shortly hit the deck, the reality is that when one gets out of balance, the neural ‘wiring’ lights off in an attempt to regain proper balance. The pull to move from peripheral vision to central vision is a strong one. (2,3)

In this author’s experience, I have been intrigued by professional baseball players commenting on how, during short stretches within the season, the ball appears larger and slower—allowing them to hit with increased visual-motor control. Then, in the next sentence, contrasting this with times when they had trouble picking up the ball, describing the ball as zooming by. Or a quarterback who compared moments when he could read the defense and throw accurately to a receiver seemingly in slow motion, as opposed to other times when everything seemed to be in frantic motion, disrupting his ability to concentrate and read the surroundings.

Given this, I began to explore what the implications might be if visual feedback was interrupted, providing the athlete substantially less time for visual feedback and decision making? Akin to running a car up to 120 miles per hour, at first the surroundings are ‘flying by’. But quickly the brain makes the corresponding adjustments in concentrated dynamic visual acuity and tightens down the visual feedback loop to acclimate to the heightened speed. Slowing down to 55 miles an hour, the driver routinely reports at how slow the environment seems to be going by.

Senaptec vision training

Senaptec Vision Training

Testing this, I had the opportunity to work with a community college football team. College footballs have the two white stripes on the ball. We would take the receivers and defensive backs into the wrestling room (no windows), turn out the lights, and light the room with four theatrical strobe lights. As the athletes acclimated to the visual demand, the strobe light was slowed to where the oscillating light was ‘on’ less and less. The sports euphemism, watch the ball all the way into your hands, was forced to be adhered to. Anecdotally, the coaches found this helpful, and continued to add this to their weekly practice schedule. Next, I had the opportunity to work with two defensive backs and a running back for an NFL team. This use of strobe lights was one of the more impacting therapies I was able to deploy. At this same time, I was working with an NBA first round draft pick who was quickly being slapped with the moniker of having ‘bad hands’. I was able to spend hours with him, the strobe light flashing and working on catching tennis balls and basketballs. I was able to use the team’s practice facility –for on court work—but this was onerous and hard to schedule time availability. I began to think of how much simpler it would be if I had glasses that would work for this. Baseball players could use them for their regimen of hitting off a tee, soft toss, and batting practice. Tennis players could play on their practice courts, and football players could run on their fields rather than a dark room that took them away from their teammates in practice. Rather than using flashing lights, would high speed liquid crystal suffice? What would the duration of the opaque phase be? The clear phase? I was able to coordinate with a businessman. We received a patent (5,478,239) and developed several prototypes prior to the commercial StrobeSpex version. I was able to use these with a number of NBA players, professional women’s tennis players, and my contacts at the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. With this serving as proof of concept, we committed to spending to obtain the frame molds, liquid crystal ‘lenses’, battery units, electronic circuitry, packaging and marketing materials. We filmed our marketing video with testimonials from several players and coaches from the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately, shortly after the commercial version of StrobeSpex were delivered, I had to leave the company we had formed.

Senaptec performance vision

Senaptec Performance Vision Glasses

A few years later, Nike came out with their Vapor Strobes. Nike negotiated with my former partner to buy the patent. Shortly thereafter, Nike decided to drop out of the diagnostic and therapy space. Senaptec, Inc. bought out the Nike group of products involved in sports vision. Fortunately, Senaptec strobe glasses and their sensory station continue to be improved upon and readily available.

So, what is the applicable research in this space teaching?

Initially, in 1995, we worked with Sacramento City College baseball and their coach, Jerry Weinstein. Jerry was also a manager for the Dodger’s single A affiliate, and assistant coach to USA Baseball. He was intrigued and allowed us to take four of his players who were starters—but had lower batting averages–to see if there would be an effect. The average increase was 56 points after 6 weeks. Since this clearly was not a placebo controlled, randomized double blind study, the results would not pass scientific de rigueur.

In 1996, Sierra College’s Denise Stone, MA, worked with Kelly Hankins on her CSU, Sacramento Master’s Thesis, The Effects of Using StrobeSpex as a Training Tool to Improve Hitting Efficacy in Collegiate Baseball Players. Although unpublished, and having her subject pool collapse from 41 baseball team players to 14 who completed the 6 week course, Hankins was able to make several inferences. While the statistical data set leaves validity open to question, the players in the two groups using StrobeSpex improved their batting averages, one at 60% improvement, and the other at 72% gain. The control groups improved 22.7% and 25%, respectively.

Fortunately, academic researchers began to set up better designed studies. Early studies started looking at visual occlusion—how little of the visual information does the athlete need before performance begins to erode? Moreno et al (8.) found that the more experienced athletes garnered more information visually. As increased occlusion took place, the authors report that nonexperienced athletes made significantly more errors.

One of the foremost authorities in stroboscopic training is L. Gregory Appelbaum, PhD from Duke University. In their 2011 article, Appelbaum found that SVT can increase the ability to quickly process visual information in the central visual field. (9.).

In a follow up article in 2012, Appelbaum, et al found that stroboscopic visual training improved information encoding in short term memory. (10.)

Also in 2012, Clark, et al published in PloS ONE that sports vision demonstrated that a sports vision training regimen that included stroboscopic vision training improved the University of Cincinnati’s baseball team batting average from 0.251 in 2010 to 0.285 in 2011. Both hitting and slugging percentages improved. This was juxtaposed against the rest of the Big East conference’s 12 baseball teams, who saw their team batting average fall slightly. While this cannot be attributed just to stroboscopic therapy, the data in quite robust.(11).

Appelbaum followed with a similar article detailing sports vision testing with the Nike Sensory Station, and training improvement with an organized sports vision training treatment program including stroboscopic training, again showing statistically significant improvement. (12.)

In Appelbaum’s 2020 article (13.), An Early Review of stroboscopic visual training: insights, challenges and accomplishments to guide future studies, he notes that foveation (central visual processing) has been shown to improve with SVT.

Again, the visual deprivation brought on by diminished visual information draws the subject’s visual attention to their central vision, similar to what out-of-balance disruption does to vision. Working through this in SVT is now beginning to show measurable improvements in improved test results, and, more importantly, in on field/court/pitch performance.

Lastly, in a 2020 study entitled, The effect of stroboscopic visual training on eye–hand coordination, Ellison et al noted using SVT works to improve perceptual cue usage and visual search behaviors on performance. They write, One way to train vision and attention for sport is ot practice and train in suboptimal environments to overload perceptual processes, making return to the performance setting seem easier.(14)

Conclusion

Since I introduced strobe glasses into the sports vision space, there has been a number of well designed research papers from around the world. We are seeing that SVT is showing promise in visual attention, foveation, eye hand coordination, and athletic performance. Researching saccadic omission, the relationship of the vestibular, visual fixation, optokinetic, balance, smooth pursuit movements, and vergence movements provides significant opportunity for ongoing research. Looking to answer questions as to can we improve the saccadic latency prior to initiation of movement? Can a person quicken their saccadic speed, whereby the eyes reach their target more quickly? What about the accuracy of target acquisition? Saccadic eye movement studies have been going on since the 1970’s, if not before. We know that as your reading improves, the number and magnitude of undershooting and overshooting diminishes. For reading, a little residual accuracy error can still allow for word recognition (through the perceptual skill known as visual closure). It stands to reason that with a moving target, especially a baseball, tennis ball, hockey puck, or shooting clay, one might not have as much room for error. SVT is a promising tool in the quest for understanding what limits can (and cannot) be reached in human visual performance.

 

References

  1. Gawande, A.(2008) Better A Surgeon’s Note on Performance. Picador, New York
  2. Leigh, RJ; Zee, DS (eds): The Neurology of Eye Movements. FA Davis Co, Philadelphia, 1991, pp 3-138
  3. Ciuffreda, KJ, Tannen, B (eds) (1995): Eye Movement Basics for the Clinician. Mosby, New York, 1995, pp 1-18.
  4. Nakayama, K: Motion parallax sensitivity and space perception. In Hein, A and Jeannerod, M (eds): Spatial Oriented Behavior. SpringerVerlag, New York, 1983, pp 223-242.
  5. Sicong Liu , Frederick R. Edmunds , Kyle Burris & Lawrence Gregory Appelbaum (2020): Visual and oculomotor abilities predict professional baseball batting performance, International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, DOI: 10.1080/24748668.2020.1777819–
  6. Desmurget, M., and Grafton, S. (2000). Forward modeling allows feedback control for fast reaching movements. Trends Cogn. Sci. (Regul. Ed.) 4, 423–431.
  7. Proteau, L., and Cournoyer, J. (1990). Vision of the stylus in a manual aiming task: the effects of practice. Q. J. Exp. Psychol. A. 42, 811–828.
  8. Moreno FJ, Luis V, Salgado F, Garcia JA, Reina R (2005) Visual behavior and perception of trajectories of moving objects with visual occlusion. Percept Mot Skills 101(1):13–20. https​://doi. org/10.2466/pms.101.5.13-20
  9. Appelbaum, L. G., Schroeder, J. E., Cain, M. S., & Mitroff, S. R. (2011). Improved visual cognition through stroboscopic training. Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 276. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00276
  10. Appelbaum, L. G., Schroeder, J. E., Cain, M. S., Darling, E.F. & Mitroff, S. R.(2012) Stroboscopic Visual Training improves information encoding in short-term memory. Atten Percept Psychophys 74(8): 1681-1691
  11. Clark JF, Ellis JK, Bench J, Khoury J, Graman P (2012) High-Performance Vision Training Improves Batting Statistics for University of Cincinnati Baseball Players. PLoS ONE 7(1): e29109. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0029109
  12. Appelbaum, LG, Lu Y, Khanna R, Detwiler KR, (2016) The effects of sports vision training on sensorimotor abilities in collegiate softball athletes. Athl Train Sports Health Care 8(4):154-163
  13. Luke Wilkins & Lawrence Gregory Appelbaum (2020) An early review of stroboscopic visual training: insights, challenges and accomplishments to guide future studies, International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 13:1, 65-80, DOI: 10.1080/1750984X.2019.1582081
  14. Ellison P, Jones C, Sparks SA, Murphy PN, Page RM, Carnegie E, Marchant DC (2020) The effect of stroboscopic visual training on eye hand coordination. Sports Sci for Health 16:401-410

Preventing Concussions With Sports Vision Exercises

Preventing Concussions With Sports Vision Exercises 640×350Between 1.7 million to 3 million sports and recreation-related concussions occur each year in the United States alone. 70-80% percent of those surveyed have vision issues.

So what can you do to avoid a concussion? Consider sports vision training. It can help you perform better and protect your head and brain from injury.

Sports Vision Training and Sport-Related Head Injuries

Concussions are among the most prevalent injuries sustained in sports.

When your visual abilities aren’t up to par, you may underestimate the distance between yourself and the ball or between yourself and other players. Due to limited peripheral vision, miscalculating the velocity of a ball or the location of competing players may result in significant head or other injuries.

This is why, like exercising your muscles, it’s important to train your eyes to communicate more efficiently with your brain and body.

Sports Vision Exercises to Prevent Concussions

If you’re looking to improve your game by improving your visual skills, visit today. Dr. Randy Fuerst will prescribe a sports vision training program based on your sport and the visual abilities you need to develop.

Until then, here are some very basic exercises you can do at home. (Keep in mind that there is no alternative for a specialized sports vision assessment and training tailored to your individual visual strengths and deficiencies.)

Depth Perception

Depth perception is crucial for a variety of sports. Baseball players require it to hit the ball as it crosses the plate, while football players need it to judge where the ball will land. Even swimmers use depth perception when doing a flip-turn near the pool’s edge during a race.

You can practice this skill by holding a drinking straw at arm’s length and trying to drop a tiny pebble or balled-up piece of paper through the straw with your free hand.

Peripheral Awareness

Peripheral awareness is crucial for succeeding in sports, as athletes must be able to sense the world around them without turning their heads. By honing this visual skill, they can drastically improve their game.

One thing you can do to improve peripheral awareness is to stand at a junction and look straight ahead at the road in front of you. Practice seeing cars pass horizontally from left to right without moving your head—simply perceive them through the edges of your visual field.

Focus Flexibility

The ability to shift your concentration from far away to nearby objects is referred to as focus flexibility.

Focus on an object close to you, then adjust your focus to an object behind the first one in the same line of sight to improve your focus flexibility. A bowl on a table in front of you, for example, and then a painting on the wall in the distance.

Switch between focusing on the bowl and the painting. This is also a good exercise for those who spend a lot of time at their computers. It will not only improve your focus flexibility but will also ease eye strain caused by prolonged screen use.

If you’re looking to improve sports performance, contact today. Sports vision training will help you up your game whether you’re a competitive athlete or simply enjoy playing on the weekends.

Frequently Asked Questions with our team of eye doctors

Q: What is Sports Vision Training?

  • A: Sports vision training is a customized program that uses a series of techniques and exercises to teach your brain and body to respond more accurately and efficiently to a fastball or hockey puck rapidly coming toward you. The training focuses on improving visual skills, such as hand-eye coordination, eye tracking, depth perception, focusing and peripheral vision.

Q: Can sports vision training lead to a decrease in sport-related injuries?

  • A: According to a study done by the University of Cincinnati Division of Sports Medicine, football players who had undergone sports vision training to improve their peripheral vision had fewer concussions than those who did not do it.
  • This is because sports vision training helps the eyes and brain react more quickly to changes in the environment, resulting in more successes and fewer accidents.
  • Sports Vision Center at EYEcenter Optometric serves patients from Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, and Elk Grove, California and surrounding communities.

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