Whether you're an elite athlete, amateur or simply enjoy sport to keep fit and socialise, your eyes have a big say on how well you play.
Having 20/20 vision means that you should be able to see the ball well, but what if your opponent sees the ball before you? What if your opponent can follow the ball better than you? You’re immediately on the back foot and they have that all important edge.
A fitter and well trained athlete will generally play better. Sports Vision goes beyond 20/20 vision and makes sure your eye muscles surrounding your eyeball are at peak performance. Faster focus = quicker reactions.
Out of sync eye muscles means your aiming will be off - could you be better and more consitent?
Most people judge their vision by how clearly they see.
However, vision is much more complex; there are many processes contributing to vision, clarity of sight being just one.
We must also consider speed and accuracy of focus, depth perception, peripheral awareness, stability of eye dominance, how efficiently the 2 eyes work together as a team and much more.
Elite athletes understand the need to train and keep the body in peak fitness. With vision being the dominant sense in most sport, we must maximise all aspects of vision to maximise sporting performance.
Gavin Rebello with (from left to right) England Hockey star Chloe Rogers, Paralypian Jonny the Giant and Downhill Skiier Chemmy Alcott.
Vision and Sporting Performance
Vision involves many subtle and sophisticated links between the brain, muscles and the eyes; the way the eyes work and how this information is processed and fedback to the body will have an effect on;
• Timing and Anticipation
• Reaction times and Aiming Accuracy
• Hand-Eye-Foot co-ordination
• Maintenance of high levels of concentration
Inefficient Visual Systems will be affected by;
• Dehydration • Stress • Tiredness
Assessing the Sports Vision of Olympic Athlete Sarah Claxton
Dehydration and tiredness affects how the eye muscles work. This will lead to focus, binocular vision, depth perception, pursuit [keeping your eyes on the ball] and convergence [timing] problems.
Clarity of Sight (Visual Acuity)
What you see and how clear it (stationary target) is.
Many athletes are able to see well beyond the bottom line of a standard optician’s chart (20/20 vision).
Dynamic Visual Acuity
Clarity of a moving target.
How accurately you focus on what you are looking at, how well you maintain this focus and how quickly you can change your focus as the target moves.
How well the eyes work together as a team and how well they continue to work when the system is stressed. Has an effect on performance consistency, spatial location of the ball/target.
Ocular Movement Skills
How accurately the eyes move. Includes pursuit tracking and convergence (eyes moving inward as a ball approaches). Inefficiencies will lead to mistiming (early or late). ‘Keep your eye on the ball’
Ability to cope with glare (low sun/stadium lights). Glare sensitivity is often caused by (correctable) problems with the focussing or binocular vision systems.
3D judgement, spatial sensitivity. Dramatically affected by binocular vision inefficiencies.
Unstable eye dominance will affect balance and aiming. Its relationship to body dominance will have a dramatic effect on how well a player will perform.
Certain eye-body dominances will give an advantage to many sports.
Visual Field and Peripheral Awareness.
The vision around you and how you integrate information in it with your central vision.
Eye Muscle strength and flexibility
Colour Vision and Contrast Sensitivity
Ability to see subtle differences in colour and grey tones in a range of lighting levels.
Relating where you are in your visual space and relating this with other objects.
Gavin Rebello testing the Cambridge Boat Race Crew
A Sport Vision Assessment is very different to a standard sight test or eye examination.
It is essential to consult a suitably qualified sport-vision practitioner. There is a fine balance between central vision, peripheral vision and 3D processing. Most optometrists and opticians will not have had the additional sport-vision specific training recommended. In the wrong hands the results could even be detrimental to your performance
Vision Performance Assessment
A full performance assessment will discuss any parts of your game you find difficult or frustrating. This is followed by a number of tests that assess all aspects of vision as detailed in the components of vision section. The results are discussed and advice given. Correction (contact lenses/sport spex/glare tints) and vision training may be prescribed. Full reports are provided for the athlete and coach if required.
Sportvision can come to you. An established screening set up means that coaches often prefer an initial screening assessment at the team’s training ground/club premises. Full feedback and any recommendations are given to the participating players and the coaches.