Originally published in Bend Sports Monthly
Unlock your full athletic potential by learning how to train your vision.
You have seen it a million times. The main pack of riders, runners, skiers… all in a big pack of mid-level athletes. Up ahead, way out in front of the main pack, is always that small group, the elites.
So what is that the elites have? Better genetics, an early start in sports and without fail, better vision.
Your “visual pathway” is the largest contributor of information into the brain. Your eyes take in more information – per second – than all the memory on all of your electronic devices! 75-90% of all learning comes through the visual pathway first! 80% of perceptual information for sports is visual. You have 4 cranial nerves (out of 12) devoted to your vision. Your vision determines 70 % of your postural alignment!
Great vision is the most important differentiator of mid-level athletes from great performers in virtually every sport. Vision goes far beyond “perfect” 20/20 Snellen chart eyesight , but is better defined as “what is being seen,” how the brain is processing that information, and how the body responds as an interpretation of “what is being seen.”
Great vision is a skill, like any another athletic skill. Vision can be trained! You can train your vision just as you do your muscles, your core, your gait pattern, your golf swing, your pedal stroke, your foot speed, your strikes, catches, throws, you get the idea.
Here are 9 basic elements of Sports Vision:
- Can you see what you are not directly looking at? Clearly? In detail? This is the foundational sports performance visual skill for all other skills to build upon.
- Can you move your eyes in every possible direction without moving your head? Easily? Or does it feel hard?
- Can you lock your gaze on an object while you are moving your head/body? Your vestibular (balance) system is intricately linked to your vision. Did you know that each semi-circular canal in your ear is paired to set of eye muscles. 70% of balance is visual.
- Can you see an object as it moves towards you, or away from you? Without losing clarity of vision? No matter how fast?
- Can you accurately judge the distance and speed of objects moving towards you or away from you?
- Can you see an object in your hand and then across a field, quickly and clearly?
- Can your hands, feet, body react accurately to visual information?
- Can you focus solely on an object amid a field of colors, lights, noise, bodies, chaos
- Can you visualize how you want to move in your game sport. Can you mentally play out all possible scenarios all the way through to a positive outcome.?
Sure, we all have our genetic and physiological limitations that set our baseline for seeing, but you can greatly improve your athleticism by training your vision, especially your visual deficits just like you train your physical weaknesses.
The key is to improve your baseline visual skills, learn where you have deficits and then train all the “elements of sports vision.” Once you have proficiency, start customizing your vision training to the visual demands of your sport.
Vision drills are quick and take mere minutes on the hour to add to your training. Once you figure out your visual weaknesses, most of your physical deficits will begin to make more sense. Change in the brain happens near the speed of sound. So with very clear baseline assessments, you can test your physical improvements as a result of better vision as you train.
Once you begin to make changes in the quality and scope of your vision, you will begin to see your athleticism change. You will have less pain, greater mobility, speed, agility, power, accuracy and better timing. If so much of your athletic perceptual information is visual, then it would make sense to say that the most significant change you can make to you over all athleticism would be to train your vision.
Unlock your full athletic potential. Train your Vision.