"Keep your eye on the ball!" "Focus
on the finish line!" "Don't lose sight of the green!"
If there's one thing that seems to be a
key to success in sports, it's vision. But did you know you
can improve your performance by improving some aspects of
your vision? It's easy to recognize problems, and even
easier to solve them. The following are some aspects of
vision which can be the difference between victory and
defeat, and some exercises to improve performance.
Dynamic visual acuity
is your ability to see objects when they
are moving fast. This is important in
sports like hockey, racquetball, and
tennis. To improve dynamic visual
acuity, cut out letters, stick them to a
record turntable, and try to identify
the letters at different speeds.
is your ability to ignore distractions
happening around you. Your eyes
naturally react to movement in the field
of vision from spectators, other
participants or the playing environment.
To improve your visual concentration,
have a friend stand nearby and wave
their hands erratically while you
Eye tracking is
following an object with your eyes
without much head motion. It is
important with any sport that involves a
fast-moving ball. Good eye tracking will
improve balance and reaction time. You
can improve your eye tracking by
watching the flight of a ball while
keeping a book balanced on your head.
Visual memory is the
ability to process and remember a fast
moving, complex picture of people and
things. It is very important in
basketball, hockey, and soccer, where
the game quickly moves up the field.
Visual memory helps you know where your
teammates and opponents are positioned.
To improve visual memory, look at a
magazine page for a second, then turn
the page. Try to reconstruct the images
you just saw. When you have mastered the
exercise, allow 5 seconds between seeing
the image and reconstructing it.
Peripheral vision is
the ability to see what is not directly
in front of you, out of the corner of
your eye. This allows you to see your
teammate to your left or right while
focusing on the goal in front of you. To
make your peripheral vision more useful,
try watching television with your head
turned to one side or the other.
Visual reaction time
is what allows a batter to hit the ball
or a tennis player to return a serve. It
is the speed with which your brain
interprets and reacts. To improve your
visual reaction time, stand with your
back to a friend. Have them toss a ball
to you and yell, "Now!" When you hear
the yell, turn around and try to catch
the ball. By repeating this exercise,
you can teach your brain to react more
allows a quarterback to quickly focus on
his receivers even though they are at
varying distances. To improve focus
flexibility, post a magazine page on a
wall about 15 feet away at eye level in
front of you. Hold a similar page in
your hand out in front of you, so that
it is slightly to one side of your view
of the page on the wall. Focus on an
object or words on the page on the wall.
Then quickly switch focus to the page in
your hand. By switching focus back and
forth, you will improve your focus
Depth perception lets
you judge distance. This is especially
important in basketball, golf, and other
sports involving distance to the goal.
To improve depth perception, have a
friend point a straw at you, parallel to
the ground, with the straw about two
feet away from you. Practice quickly
inserting a toothpick into the straw.