Live Better
 
 

Sports vision

Optimising your visual performance.

If you’re among the 47 per cent of Australians who participate in sport at least twice a week, you’ll know that your performance is only as good as the physical condition your body is in. While muscle flexibility and strength, physical endurance and coordination are key factors in how we perform, have you ever thought about the role your vision plays?

Professional athletes vs. the rest of us

So, how important is vision for sport? For professional athletes, it’s vital – a top sportsperson may have a qualified vision trainer on top of a host of other coaches. The NSW Institute of Sport even has a ‘Sports Vision Scientist’ on board. While enthusiastic amateurs don’t need to employ a ‘Vision Consultant’, it can be interesting and beneficial to understand the extent to which vision affects sports performance.

Dynamic visual acuity

Ball sports such as tennis, soccer or rugby require a player to be able to see an object clearly as it’s moving at high speed. Dynamic visual acuity refers to the ability to focus on the object in question and immediately send clear and precise information to the brain, so a split second decision can be highly influential on results.

Like exercising, we can train to improve our dynamic visual acuity.  Go online and you’ll find a number of easy eye exercises, including side-to-side, top-to-bottom and near-to-far eye movements to enhance overall focus and accuracy in high-speed situations.

Visual tracking

Most sports require a degree of co-ordination, with visual tracking a critical component. Contacting the racquet or bat to the ball, scoring that goal or judging a distance for a throw all place exceptional demands on our vision. Research shows that professional vs. amateur ball players exhibit quite distinct visual tracking patterns, which partly accounts for the difference in their high levels of performance.

Eye dominance

Everyone has a ‘dominant’ eye, even if the difference is very slight. For a professional, the aim is to achieve what is called ‘binocular vision’. This refers to the ability to maintain visual focus on an object with both eyes – it’s the ‘two eyes are better than one’ philosophy.

An amateur athlete can train to achieve binocular vision, although this is a fairly specialised field that requires a professional visual trainer. Even the most enthusiastic amateur is unlikely to need to go this far, but when the competitive spirit burns perhaps even non-professionals might go to any lengths to find a sporting edge!

Glasses and contact lenses

There is a reason you don’t see anyone who plays professional sports wearing glasses – the two just don’t mix. While some players may wear contact lenses, the majority of pros who have a refractive problem such as short-sightedness, long-sightedness or astigmatism will turn to laser eye surgery to enhance their vision. While laser surgery can be significantly performance enhancing, it is not banned by any sporting organization – so it’s a rare opportunities to gain an advantage without breaking any rules.

For more information visit visioneyeinstitute.com.au

To find a Medibank Members Choice optometrist visit medibank.com.au

Latest Articles

Exercise

Making sports accessible for kids of all abilities

AllPlay helps to create more inclusive play spaces.

Read more
Exercise

How to make your workout a game

Recharge your motivation by injecting an element of play.

Read more
Exercise

Physical activity hits a 10-year high

Data reveals Australians are exercising more.

Read more
Exercise

How sport can inspire recovery and connection

Jocelyn takes aim at the Invictus Games Sydney 2018.

Read more
Exercise

The healing power of sport

The Invictus Games celebrate the unconquered spirit.

Read more
Exercise

How to train for a running event

Tips to get you crossing the finish line smiling.

Read more
Exercise

Hiking for beginners: how to get started

The gear you need, staying safe, and where to go.

Read more
youtubeui-checkbox-tickui-checkbox-emptyui-checkbox-crosstwitterui-checkbox-tickWellbeing and mindfulness 1Physical Health 1Positive psychology 101 1Wellbeing and mindfulness 4All about gut health 1Understanding Genetics 4Planning for Pregnancy 2During Pregnancy 3The mind-gut connection 4The mind-gut connection 1New Parents 3Page 1Group 10During Pregnancy 2Page 1Physical Health 2Planning for Pregnancy 1Positive psychology 101 1Positive psychology 101 4Planning for Pregnancy 4Understanding Genetics 1Physical Health 4Planning for Pregnancy 3Nutrition 4New Parents 1New Parents 3 CopyMovement for your mind 4Wellbeing and mindfulness 2Nutrition 2sob-icon__mind-bodysob-icon__man-with-laptopAll about gut health 2Positive psychology 101 3Positive psychology 101 2Physical Health 3Wellbeing and mindfulness 3All about gut health 3genetics-changing-what-your-givenUnderstanding Genetics 2During Pregnancy 1Movement for your mind 2Movement for your mind 1Movement for your mind 3During Pregnancy 4