Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Athletes Need Excellent Vision Performance

I spend many hours training athletes to improve their physical skills (strength, power, speed).

And, there is no doubt that these physical traits are critical for the athlete to succeed. Mental preparation, mental focus and mental toughness are also very important skills needed for athletic success.

Athletes also need outstanding visual performance to be successful in their sports. The vision I'm talking about is much more than 20/20 vision. Anyone can get lasik surgery today to improve eyesight to 20/20 (or very close). To compete at a high level, athletes need excellent vision performance. And, visual skills can be taught, trained and improved.

Athletes can improve vision performance in these areas:

1. Dynamic Visual Acuity
2. Visual Recognition
3. Depth Perception
4. Visual Tracking or Focusing

Companies have even developed tinted contact lenses to be used at certain times of the day to improve visual focus, tracking and depth perception.

Kevin Gee, a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, states "The biggest problem that athletes face is not knowing they can potentially see much better than 20/20 vision." Gee opened the Sports Vision Performance Center in January and uses tests to analyze what he calls the "visual system."

Gee continues, "The visual system is more than just 'what's the smallest line on the chart you can see.'" "The visual system consists of many things, but specifically for sports, depth perception, color, speed and accuracy of movements and contrast sensitivity -- or the ability to detect an object off a background." Gee and his staff can also test for visual skills such as timing, reaction time and peripheral awareness.

Add vision performance to the list of skills you will need to compete at a high level in your sport.

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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