Visual skills are one of the four pillars that make up an athlete’s so-called “intangible” skills set.
These intangible skills, which we refer to globally as sports vision skills, are all in the head and include:
field vision and peripheral awareness
mental toughness and visualization
reaction time and anticipation
attention, focus and concentration
balance, speed and agility
game strategy and creativity
Training and conditioning their visual skills enables athletes to quickly and accurately recognize and process visual information. It is the first step in getting the body to make the proper response in competition.
STEP I: Eye Exam. The first step in improving an athlete’s visual skills is to ensure that their eyesight is good. Sight refers to how well you can read the eye chart. Vision, on the other hand, is how well your eyes inform your brain. In other words, the quality of your vision depends on the quality of your sight.
According to the American Optometric Association, “periodic eye and vision examinations are an important part of preventive health care. Early diagnosis and treatment of eye and vision problems are important for maintaining good vision and eye health.”
The AOA recommends annual eye examinations after 18 years of age and an exam every two years for athletes under 18 years of age.
STEP II: Eye Correction. In there is a problem with an athlete’s eyesight, the next step is correction. Usually, corrective measures for an athlete would include prescription eye-wear, corrective contact lenses, or laser surgery.
STEP III: Eye Exercises. Training the visual system means working the muscles associated with eye movements and eye-body reflexes in order to enhance performance in sports that rely on visual input.
For ease of comprehension, visual skills can be loosely categorized into two groups; visual motor skills, which are generally the ability to move and adjust the eyes, and visual perceptual skills which refer more to the ability to process visual information.