Vision is extremely important for athletes. Vision guides your hands and body, tells you when to reach out, when to grab the ball, when to swing the bat or racquet, and where your teammates and opponents are. Balance and shifts in weight are dependent on visual information.
Vision is more than 20/20 eyesight. Seeing clearly is important, but so are these visual skills:
- Eye movements
- Eye teaming
- Visual spatial localization
- Depth perception
- Dynamic Visual Acuity
Dynamic skills are critical for athletes. Poor vision always compromises athletic performance, and performance in daily life, to one extent or another. Imagine hitting a speeding baseball or tennis ball if it is blurry, or your eyes cannot follow it quickly and accurately.
Visual skills are developed, rather than innate. A child learns how to move his eyes to follow a target. Eye coordination is fine tuned through practice by changing fixation between near and far objects while playing. This is why outdoors play and sports are so important to develop children’s visual motor skills which help them become good athletes, and good students. Passive play with video games and television do not help develop these critical skills.
Since vision is developed, it can also be taught, developed, and improved. Many professional and Olympic athletes do Vision Therapy to enhance their visual skills which helps them see faster, and react to the ball faster. I worked with Olympic athletes when the games were in Atlanta in 1996. From boxers to divers, all athletes need good vision to spot their target, throw a punch, avoid a punch, or catch a ball. I also worked with the NHL’s Mighty Ducks of Anaheim with visual drills to support their performance on the ice. Hockey is an extremely fast sport, so dynamic visual skills are paramount to their success.
So the next time you see a tennis player hit the ball well, a basketball player make a free throw shot, or a golfer make an excellent putt, give thanks to their Optometrist who helped them see well so that they can perform well on the court.
For more information on Sports Vision Therapy, please see our website at www.HollywoodVision.com or call our office at (323)954-5800.