Vision is your #1 Priority
In optimizing health and athletic performance, it is IMPOSSIBLE to overstate just how important it is to have superior visual skills. Great vision is one of the most important, if not THE MOST IMPORTANT differentiators of poor health and mid-level athletes from great performers and optimal health in virtually every aspect of life and sport. The reason for this is very simple as a huge dependence upon vision is a part of our hard-wired ability to survive. Additionally, most researchers agree that 75-90% of most motor learning comes through the visual pathway at first. These factors make excellent vision priority #1.
Eyesight and Vision are Not the Same
“Eyesight is simply the ability to see something clearly, the so-called 20/20 eyesight (as measured in a standard eye examination with a Snellen chart). Vision goes beyond eyesight and can best be defined as the understanding of what is seen. Vision involves the ability to take incoming visual information, process that information and obtain meaning from it.”
– Dr. Donald Getz, OD
In other words, 20/20 is not enough! If they have given any thought to this at all, most instructors believe that if their client has “normal eyes” then that is good enough to permit performance on their activities. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth! Normal 20/20 eyesight is only the beginning. Vision is a dynamic, powerful system that is often THE determining factor of health and athletic performance!
There are a number of different elements of visual skill – all of which play important roles in movement skills.
Vision Is Learned
Vision is learned. This makes vision a trainable skill. Almost anyone can be taught the necessary visual skills necessary to excel in sports and life. Plus, it stands to reason that since 75-90% of all learning comes through the visual pathway first, any interference in the visual system can interfere with full resolution of symptoms.
The Different Elements of Athletic Visual Skill
- Dynamic Visual Acuity – This is the visual skill that allows you to see objects clearly while the object is in motion. In virtually every sport this means that you need to have exceptionally good vision at distances ranging from a few inches to 300 feet.
- Gaze Stabilization – This visual skill is the most foundational and important to being able to lock onto a target. If you cannot stay on the target at rest, how can you “track” a moving target?
- Eye Tracking – Refers to your ability to “keep your eyes on the ball,” no matter how fast it is traveling.
- Eye Focusing/Accommodation – The skill to change focus quickly and accurately from one distance to another.
- Peripheral Vision – Allows you to see people and objects “out of the corner of your eye” while concentrating on a fixed point.
- Vergence Flexibility and Stamina – The ability to keep both eyes working together in unison under high speed, physically stressful situations and differing environments.
- Depth Perception – This skill allows you to quickly and accurately judge the distance and speed of objects moving toward and away from you.
- Imagery – This skill allows you to picture events with your “mind’s eye” and your “virtual proprioception”.
- Sequencing – This refers to the ability to correctly see and “put in line” a series of stimuli. In other words, it refers to the ability to organize visual information which is a key skill to understanding and reacting to the events that occur in a sporting environment. Sequencing plays a role in virtually every sport.
- Eye-Hand & Eye-Foot Coordination – These crucial interactions are the ultimate basis of athletic skill. The ability to take in correct and appropriate visual information and translate it into necessary body movements is the essence of this skill set.