This specialized training involves developing peak visual skills for athletes such as following a ball, reacting more quickly, judging depth accurately and hand/eye co-ordination.
Doctor Lampert has worked with players from the Yankees, Cubs, Indians,
Dolphins, Japanese Baseball League, pro golfers and tennis players and
the Olympic Athletes in Atlanta.
Doctor Lampert is also the author of “The Pro’s Edge” – Vision Training for Golf. Sports performance goes up with the visual edge. The results are higher batting averages, increased earnings and better games for the amateur.
Think of your favorite sport; chances are your vision plays an important part in that activity. Coordination, concentration, balance and accuracy are just a few of the visually-related abilities you use during a sports event. Vision affects your batting average, racquetball score, pass completion and free throw percentages. The term “vision” and the growing field of “sports vision” apply to more than 20/20 eyesight, glasses or contact lenses. Vision involves many subtle and sophisticated links between your brain, muscles and eyes.
When you train for your sports activities, you probably work on your aerobic capacity, endurance, strength, muscle tone and/or flexibility. But optometrists, coaches and trainers now say you should train your vision as well. The stamina, flexibility and fine-tuning of your visual system can sometimes provide you with the split-second timing you need to truly excel at your chosen sport.
The Important Role of Vision in Sports Performance
Even if you already wear prescription lenses or contact lenses, the visual skills you need for optimum sports performance probably need improvement. If you do not require a vision prescription, your visual skills may still be enhanced. These skills are developed from birth and learned as you grow; they can also be taught, enhanced and improved at almost any time during your life under the direction of a behavioral optometrist who understands how your visual system works.
If certain skills are not up to par, you may unconsciously compensate and weak spots might develop in your game. These weak spots become obvious to your opponent who, depending on the level of competition, may play on them. Compensating behavior can include slowness or inconsistencies in one or more areas of performance.
The Visual Skills of Peak Performers
The skills you need for peak performance in your favorite sports are:
Dynamic Visual Acuity – which allows you to see objects clearly while in motion.
Eye Tracking – the ability to “keep your eyes on the ball,” no matter how fast it may be traveling.
Eye Focusing – changing focus quickly and accurately from one distance to another
Peripheral Vision – seeing people and objects “out of the corner of your eye” while concentrating on a fixed point.
Fusion Flexibility and Stamina – the ability to keep both eyes working together even under high speed, physically stressful situations.
Depth Perception – quickly and accurately judging the distance and speed of objects.
Visualization – picturing events with your “mind’s eye” or imagination. Studies show that when you visualize yourself performing a particular activity, your brain doesn’t know the difference between performing the activity or visualizing. Visualization can boost your confidence and aid in greater focus on your athletic goals.
Athletes’ Vision In Training
Many studies show that professional athletes have much better visual skills than non-athletes. Tests conducted on athletes reveal they often have greater depth perception or better eye-hand coordination, as well as many other excellent visual skills. They often have a finely-tuned visual system which helps them learn to anticipate and respond more quickly to complex visual conditions.
In addition, many athletes actually train their vision. For example:
- Professional golfer Val Skinner visited her doctor of optometry complaining of “perceptual problems.” After an intensive program with visual training and lenses she had several successful seasons and we
- In one study, it was found that a group of professional basketball players improved their free throw average by 23 percent after a consistent 20-day visualization program.
- Well-known NBA player Kiki Vandeweghe suffered with an eye-coordination problem from childhood. After treatment with visual training and prescription lenses, he averaged 26.9 points per game in the 1986-87 season to become one of the top shooters in the league.
- Several members of the U.S. Olympic volleyball team were given visual training. Players Steve Salmons and Rich Duwelius experienced a subsequent 25-30 percent increase in their hitting averages.
Professional athletes and their coaches have found that vision can play such an important part in sports performance, it may be the one thing that keeps a good athlete from being an exceptional one. And, conversely, it can be the all-important factor that pushes a good athlete into a category of excellence.