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Play Soccer? Why You Should Improve Visual Processing Speed and Eye-Body Coordination

Men Playing SoccerSoccer is a fast-moving sport that requires finely-tuned visual skills and quick reaction time. So when you follow a training regimen, don’t forget to get your vision in shape, too.

Sports vision training helps athletes of every age and ability hone the visual skills they need to succeed in their favorite sports.

How to Improve Visual Skills for Soccer

Soccer success requires not only muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance but sharp visual skills that include:

  • Visual processing speed
  • Eye-body coordination
  • Peripheral vision
  • Depth perception
  • Focus

Why Is Visual Processing Speed Important for Soccer?

One reason soccer is such a popular sport worldwide is that it’s exciting and action-packed. Everything in a soccer game happens so fast, that a spectator could literally blink and miss a goal.

Soccer players need to be constantly aware of what’s happening on the field. The faster your brain can process the information your eyes are sending, the more time you have to react. The difference may be a fraction of a second, but in soccer—every second counts.

The Role of Eye-Body Coordination in Soccer

Your body can be in top-notch condition, but without a high level of eye-body coordination that enables your eyes, brain and limbs to communicate at split-second speeds, you won’t be able to block the ball or score a goal. A training regimen that includes building eye-body coordination skills is certain to improve your soccer game.

What Is Sports Vision Training?

Sports Vision Training is a customized program that enables athletes of all levels to improve their visual skills through in-office and at-home eye exercises. The beauty of this training program is that it can fit right into your workout and game schedule. The program is designed just for you, so you can focus on the skills you need to develop to become a better soccer player.

Schedule an appointment at The Sports Vision Center at New Baltimore Optometry in New Baltimore to get a full visual evaluation. We’ll test your current visual skills, identify any deficits and design a sports vision therapy program tailored to your specific needs and abilities. you with a customized program to improve any lagging visual skills.

Want to learn more? Contact The Sports Vision Center at New Baltimore Optometry today and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Our practice serves patients from New Baltimore, Macomb, Sterling Heights, and Detroit, Michigan and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Joseph Lawless

Q: Can sports vision training really improve my soccer performance?

  • A: About 80% of sports performance depends on visual processing and reacting to visual stimuli. After just weeks of sports vision training, many athletes report a marked improvement in their performance. Building visual skills, just like developing muscular strength, plays a crucial role in athletic training.

Q: Which at-home vision training exercises can improve my soccer game?

  • A: As part of a sports vision training program, our experts will prescribe a program of exercises that you can do at the clinic and at home. Some exercises you can do at home include:- For focus flexibility, focus on a close-up object and then focus on another object directly behind it and farther away.
    – For peripheral vision, stand at an intersection, look straight ahead, and check whether you can see cars using only your side vision.
    – For depth perception, hold a straw with one hand extended at arm’s length and drop a small pebble through it with your other hand. While these exercises will give you a general idea of the visual skills you use every day, nothing can replace a comprehensive exam that assesses your visual skill and sports vision training. Speak to us at The Sports Vision Center at New Baltimore Optometry for your custom-designed sports vision training program.

Martial Arts: Improve Your Reflexes With Sports Vision Training

Martial Arts Improve Your Reflexes With Sports Vision Training 640×350As a martial artist, you want to show your hard-earned skills at every match. While martial artists know the importance of being physically fit, many don’t realize that their visual skills also play a central role in their performance.

Your eyes’ ability to focus, react instantaneously to another’s moves, and see movement from the edge of your visual field are all critical skills to succeed in martial arts. That’s where sports vision training comes in. Regardless of your age or level of ability, sports vision training can boost your visual skills to help you up your game.

What is Sports Vision Training?

Sports vision training is a customized program designed to enhance the communication between your eyes, brain, and body. Athletes who receive sports vision training are able to process visual information faster and react more precisely to what they see on the mat, field or track.

Sports vision training employs a unique set of strategies and exercises that enhances eye-brain communication so the body can respond more quickly, effectively and accurately. Visual skills such as depth perception, hand-eye coordination, dynamic visual acuity and peripheral awareness are all [emphasized] during sports vision training.

Visual Skills for Martial Arts

Visual skills allow the brain to quickly process the images received by the eyes and then relay this information to the body. People who do judo, karate, kung fu, Muay Thai, Krav Maga, Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido among other forms of martial arts rely heavily on these and other visual skills to succeed:

Dynamic Visual Acuity

This is at times referred to as “vision in motion,” or the capacity to see, understand and respond quickly to moving objects. In martial arts, fighters need dynamic visual acuity to accurately follow their opponents’ sudden kicks, throws or punches.

Eye-Hand Coordination

There is a three-way information pathway between our limbs, eye and brain. Any miscommunication between these three can impact eye-hand coordination. If the information is not conveyed quickly and accurately enough, the body may not be able to react in time to fend off an opponent.

From parrying a punch in boxing to grappling in Jiu-Jitsu, hand-eye coordination is required for a wide range of maneuvers and situations. It’s also important for enhancing your general timing in offensive and defensive reactions.

Peripheral Awareness

Your ability to recognize what’s going on at the edge of your vision is known as peripheral awareness. A fighter with a well-developed peripheral field will be able to see everything at once and perceive the battle’s flow.

Combatants of all levels, amateur and professional, can benefit from improving their visual abilities. Giving martial artists the ability to develop their sports vision skills has been shown to help them perform at a higher level.

Contact us at The Sports Vision Center at New Baltimore Optometry to schedule your appointment with one of our sports vision experts and discover how sports vision training can help you excel in martial arts.

Our practice serves patients from New Baltimore, Macomb, Sterling Heights, and Detroit, Michigan and surrounding communities.

Can Vision Be Trained to Improve Sports Performance?

Runner stretching on bridgeTo detect the exact angle of a tennis ball in midday glare, observe the subtle movements of a goalie or focus accurately on a target, you need great visual skills.

How Vision Affects the Performance of an Athlete

Many athletes find that in spite of consistent exercise and hard work, something is preventing them from reaching their goals. Often, it’s their visual system.

In those with a healthy visual system, the eyes accurately relay images to the brain, which quickly turns these messages into actions, such as positioning your arm and hands to catch a ball. This eye-brain-body communication is dependent on the following visual skills:

  • Eye focusing: smoothly changing the focus from object to object
  • Depth perception: detecting the speed and distance of objects
  • Eye-hand or eye-body coordination: the ability to react efficiently to what one sees
  • Eye-tracking: tracking a moving object
  • Dynamic visual acuity: seeing moving objects clearly
  • Peripheral awareness: detecting things in the corner of your eye

Good depth perception helps you gauge the distance between you and the basket, while poor peripheral awareness makes it harder to see players approaching from the side. Proper eye tracking and dynamic visual acuity help you follow the action on the field and hit a target.

Yet even the best visual skills won’t help an athlete if their eyesight isn’t clear. That’s where glasses and contact lenses come into play.

What Glasses and Contact Lenses Are Best for Sports?

If you wear prescription glasses, you should also have a pair of sports glasses to use while you train or participate in a game or a race. Eyewear designed for sports:

  • Maximize vision so you can see clearly for your best performance
  • Prevents eye injuries due to a fast-moving ball or even an errant finger from an opposing player, potentially leading to vision loss
  • Reduces glare all year round

Glasses with silicone padding can keep debris from making contact with your eyes. Choose polarized glasses to reduce glare from reflected light, such as off water, snow or a road surface, or photochromic lenses that will automatically darken as your surroundings get brighter. Impact-resistant lenses can add to the durability and strength of your sports glasses, which are often recommended for intense activity.

Which Contacts Are Best for Sports?

Some contact lenses can be more versatile and comfortable than eyeglasses for sports. They don’t slip, as glasses sometimes do, and may improve your peripheral vision. To protect your eyes from debris, glare or impact, you may need to wear additional protective eyewear or sunglasses along with contact lenses.

Soft contact lenses are often used for sports since they move less on the eye, but some athletes prefer gas-permeable lenses because they may provide clearer vision and offer improved eye health for some patients. Check with your eye doctor which type of contact lenses are best for you based on your vision correction needs and the sports you play.

For less glare and greater color contrast, you may want to consider custom-tinted soft contact lenses. These lenses filter light rays in a way similar to certain tinted optical lenses that may help you see a ball or a target more accurately.

For example, amber tints can be helpful for people who play tennis, soccer, and baseball, while gray-green are sometimes recommended for golf, biking and running.

Can Sports Vision Training Improve Athletic Performance?

Just as you lift weights, run hills and do calisthenics to build your strength, endurance and flexibility, you can get your eyes into shape with sports vision training. A sports vision optometrist can help you improve your visual skills by prescribing exercises to hone your ability to focus, track objects, perceive objects in motion and at the periphery.

How Does Sports Vision Training Work?

A customized sports vision training program helps athletes of all ages and abilities boost the visual skills they need to excel at their chosen sports. During a comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist will assess both your eyesight and your visual skills. Your eye doctor will then prescribe a personalized program of eye exercises to sharpen your skills based on the exam results, the sports you play as well as your goals.

Studies have shown that sports vision training enhances an athlete’s ability to react faster and more efficiently by improving visual skills. In fact, it’s now an integral part of many sports programs.

Discover ways to boost your visual system so you’re in top shape for the next big game or race. To learn more or speak with a sports vision training eye care professional, contact The Sports Vision Center at New Baltimore Optometry today!

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Joseph Lawless

Q: What are the most common eye injuries sustained in sports?

  • A: Among the most common eye injuries in sports are:
    – Eyelid bruises
    – Eye punctures
    – Eye scratches. These injuries can result from an impact, or debris getting into or penetrating the eye. Some can lead to permanent vision loss while others may only need superficial treatment. Either way, an eye doctor should assess all eye injuries.
  • According to a study done by the University of Cincinnati Division of Sports Medicine, football players who had undergone sports vision training to improve their peripheral vision sustained fewer injuries than those who did not do it.
  • This is because sports vision training helps the eyes and brain react more quickly to changes in the environment, resulting in more successes and fewer accidents.

Q: Is Sports Vision Training exclusively for professional athletes?

  • A: The best thing about sports vision training is that it can help both amateur and professional athletes take their game to the next level. This includes children, teens as well as adults.

References

4 Tips To Improve Sports Performance

child skiing improving performanceIn sports, being even just a fraction of a second slower than your opponent can make all the difference between lifting a trophy as champion or heading back to the showers.

So what is the best way to achieve your goals? Here are 4 tips to improve your sports performance and be the athlete you aspire to be.

1. Eating and Drinking Right

When planning meals, try to avoid simple carbs and sugars like baked goods, many cereals and fruit juices from concentrate. Instead aim for more complex carbs such as fresh (not canned) fruits and vegetables and whole-grains such as quinoa. These complex carbohydrates break down more slowly, supplying your body with a more steady supply of energy, keeping you full longer.

You should also make sure to have plenty of protein-rich foods in your diet, such as fish, meat and eggs. They support muscle growth and help your muscles recover more quickly after workouts.

When choosing what to drink, water is always the best option. It lacks the added sugars of sodas and juices, wards off dehydration, supports muscle growth and helps prevent muscle tears and cramps during workouts.

To maintain optimal hydration throughout the day, women should aim to drink approximately 2.7 liters of water each day, and men should aim for approximately 3.7 liters.

2. Change Up Your Workouts

Doing the same thing day in and day out for your workout has a number of disadvantages.

First of all, it can get boring. If workouts become monotonous, it’s much more difficult to stay motivated day after day.

Maintaining the exact same workout routine every day can also reduce the effectiveness of those workouts.

Every day or two, you should change the muscle groups you’re targeting and the type of exercise you’re doing. Set up a workout schedule for yourself that emphasizes cardio on some days and strength training on others. Concentrate on your arms one day, your legs the next day and your core another day.

Changing up your workout routine can make it easier to overcome mental blocks around working out, and make those workouts more effective overall.

3. Don’t Neglect Recovery Time After Exercise

Many people don’t realize that recovery time between workouts is just as important as the workouts themselves. Every time you work out, your muscles experience stress and tiny micro-tears. This is why your muscles feel sore and tender after a good workout.

Resting time between workouts allows the muscles to heal thicker and stronger than before. If you ignore muscle soreness and exercise despite the pain, you run a very serious risk of long-term injury that can prevent you from participating in sports for a long time.

Resting after workouts also allows your muscles to recharge their glycogen stores, which are used up during your workout. Glycogen is essentially your muscles’ energy source, so resting between workouts will ensure that your muscles have the energy to work.

Consider skipping your workout every few days to give your body time to rest and recover from the rigors of your exercise routine.

4. Sports Vision Training

Being prepared for sports means more than lifting weights and going for a run. If your eyes have trouble following a moving ball or you react too slowly to a play, your big moment may pass you by.

Sports vision training is a scientifically proven vision therapy regimen that uses in-office and at-home eye exercises to strengthen the connection between the eyes and the brain. These exercises have been shown to improve an athlete’s performance and reaction time.

During a sports vision exam your eye doctor will evaluate your overall vision profile. This includes checking for refractive errors that may affect your ability to clearly see objects close up or far away, and visual skill deficiencies that may make it hard to track objects as they move, or to gauge distances.

Once your eye doctor has evaluated your vision and visual skills, they can construct a customized sports vision therapy regimen that addresses your specific needs, including an emphasis on the particular visual skills required for success in your sport.

To learn more about how sports vision training can boost the visual skills you need to exceed in sports, book an appointment with The Sports Vision Center at New Baltimore Optometry today!

Our practice serves patients from New Baltimore, Macomb, Sterling Heights, and Detroit, Michigan and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Joseph Lawless

Q: What vision skills does sports vision therapy help improve?

  • A: Strong visual skills are an essential part of success in just about any sport you play. Some important visual skills that sports vision training helps you improve include:
  • – Depth Perception – the ability to efficiently and accurately tell how far something is from you, and how fast it’s moving.
  • – Focusing – the ability to quickly and efficiently focus from one object to another.
  • – Eye Tracking – the ability to move your eyes in a continuous, smooth motion to keep moving objects in sight.
  • – Reaction Time – Quickly and accurately registering the presence and movement of an object, and translating that into appropriate action.
  • – Contrast Sensitivity – the ability to see an object and distinguish between it and the background.
  • – Peripheral Awareness – the ability to register objects and their movement in your side vision.
  • – Eye-Hand or Eye-Body Coordination – the ability to coordinate eye and body movements with visual information acquired by the eyes and sent to the brain.

Q: Is sports vision therapy effective for high school and college athletes?

  • A: Absolutely! Sports vision therapy is recommended for both professional and amateur athletes, at any age and skill level. Deficiencies in visual skills can cause high school and college athletes to get frustrated and abandon the sport they love. Sports vision therapy is an excellent way to clear the visual obstacles that may be preventing their success, paving the way to greater enjoyment of the game and greater success.

Why Goalkeepers Need Strong Visual Skills

Goalkeeper blocking a goalSports require athletes to be in peak physical condition to play at their best. This doesn’t just include arms and legs, but eyes too. This is especially true for goalkeepers, who need lightning-fast reflexes and incredibly accurate vision skills to guard the goal and catch or deflect the puck or ball and prevent that scoring shot.

Our eye care professionals at The Sports Vision Center at New Baltimore Optometry can help goalies and other athletes, both amateur and pro, improve their functional vision with sports vision training.

What Visual Skills Does a Goalkeeper Need?

Goalies need to master a range of visual skills in order to prevent the opposing team from scoring. Convergence and divergence, as well as the ability to alternate between them quickly and accurately, are among the most important.

Convergence

Convergence is the eyes’ ability to efficiently and accurately focus on an object as it moves toward you, and up close. Professional soccer players send the ball flying at the net at an average of 70 miles per hour, and a hockey puck in the NHL can be slapped at the goal at a blistering 100 miles per hour. This means that for penalty shots and other fast-moving, close-up plays a goalkeeper’s eyes can have mere fractions of a second to accurately converge on the ball or puck before the goalkeeper needs to decide where to move their body and how to react.

Poor convergence can mean that the goalie’s eyes are too slow to converge on the target, or that they don’t converge accurately, leading to double vision as the ball or puck is incoming.

Either of these situations can make it difficult, if not impossible, to make the save during a fast-paced play.

Divergence

Divergence is the eyes’ ability to efficiently and accurately focus on objects at a distance, and as they move away. This skill is vital for goalkeepers, who need to save shots taken from halfway down the field or ice, and to accurately judge the position and flight of the ball or puck. Divergence also allows the goalkeeper to track shots that rebound out, as well as the movements of the puck or ball in case the opposing team quickly takes another shot.

Poor divergence makes it challenging for the goalie to find or track the target from farther out, or as it moves away from them, from close range into the distance.

Alternating

Being able to efficiently alternate between convergence and divergence is also vital in a fast-moving game. Consider the following play-by-play:

  • Using divergence, a goalkeeper can track a ball or puck from far down the field or ice, until a shot is taken.
  • As the shot comes closer in, they engage their convergence to track it moving toward them.
  • They make a successful save, resulting in a rebound out. Divergence is engaged as the ball or puck moves away from them once again.
  • Within fractions of a second, an opposing player may recover the puck or ball, and attempt another shot. The shot is incoming again, and convergence is re-engaged.

The goalkeeper has only seconds or even fractions of a second to respond, re-focus, and respond again.

How Can Sports Vision Training Help?

Sports vision training is a personalized regimen of eye exercises prescribed by eye doctors to help athletes perfect the visual skills that are most essential for their sport.

Working through the prescribed exercises retrains the athlete’s brain to work faster and more effectively with their eyes, improving convergence, divergence and other visual-motor and spatial skills.

Sports vision training can help goalkeepers of all ages and abilities gain the visual skills they need to stay on top of their game, block shots and save the day.

Have questions about how we can help you play your best game? Visit us or call our office today.

Our practice serves patients from New Baltimore, Macomb, Sterling Heights, and Detroit, Michigan and surrounding communities.

Sports Vision Exercises to Try At Home

woman and her daughter exercising at homeNote: the activities here do not replace an eye exam and in-office sports vision training program from an eye doctor experienced in sports vision.

When athletes consider the skills they need to succeed, agility and strength often come to mind. But those aren’t the only skills that matter. Many athletes don’t realize that, when it comes to conditioning, their eyes are an important asset.

An athlete’s capacity to notice, understand and respond to events on the field, both near and far, has a substantial influence on the quality of their play. The intricate capabilities of their visual system are required to dunk that basket, return that serve, receive that pass or knock it out of the ballpark.

There is an entire area of optometry that provides sports vision training, with research to back it up. According to a study published by the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, visual abilities like peripheral perception and reaction time can be improved by means of appropriate visual training.

Sports vision exercises can help improve your peripheral vision, visual memory, hand-eye coordination and much more. Who wouldn’t want to improve their game by doing eye exercises?

Sports Vision Training Exercises at Home

Your eye doctor will recommend an in-office sports vision training program for you based on the sport and the visual abilities you want to develop. Here are some very basic exercises you can do at home until you get to your optometrist’s office.

While home-based exercises are a good first step toward upping your performance, they aren’t a substitute for a sports vision training program designed by an optometrist that is tailored to your individual strengths and weaknesses.

20-20-20 Rule

Your eyes, like your body, need to be as agile as possible. Switching your focus between near and distant objects is a simple way to enhance your focusing skills at home. Look up from your computer and focus on anything 20 inches away, then something farther away, such as looking out a window.

Most sports rely on the ability to change focus from near to far objects, such as a ball or other players.

Visual Memory Games

One way we understand and comprehend information is via visual memory. It’s all about recalling where players are on the field when receiving a pass, or how much spin or curvature the ball had during the previous play. When you play memory games like a children’s matching game, you’re teaching a part of your brain to remember information accurately and quickly. Playing memory games can help improve your speed.

The Turning Tray

Practice reading words in motion. Attach a piece of paper with words to a turning tray and move it at different speeds. Alternatively, attach the paper to a moving door or a bouncing ball. Experiment with font, color, size and familiarity of words to see how many you can read and how quickly.

This exercise can help improve your dynamic visual acuity, which is needed in fast-paced sports like hockey, basketball and tennis. Athletes who play these sports need to be able to see objects clearly while they are moving quickly.

Sidelong Glance

Peripheral vision allows you to see another player from the opposing team rushing toward you, or where your teammate is preparing to pass, from the edge of your visual field. When you’re using a computer or walking outside, practice ‘viewing’ from the sides of your eyes, both right and left. Look for details in your peripheral vision or lean your head to one side to ‘scan’ the activity with a sidelong glance.

One-Eyed Monster

Depth perception is one of the most essential visual tricks your binocular vision provides. This helps you know how far the goal post is. Train each eye separately by kicking or catching the ball with only one eye open. Alternatively, practice this skill by holding a drinking straw at arm’s length and trying to drop a tiny pebble or balled-up piece of paper through the straw with your free hand.

Ping-Pong

Ping-Pong, or table tennis, isn’t just a classic fun game, it’s an excellent way to enhance your eye-hand coordination. It’s a fast-paced game that trains the brain to determine the speed of a moving object and respond accordingly.

Ready to improve your game? Schedule an appointment with The Sports Vision Center at New Baltimore Optometry, where our eye doctor will assess your visual skills and design a customized sports vision training program to boost your performance in your chosen sport.

Our practice serves patients from New Baltimore, Macomb, Sterling Heights, and Detroit, Michigan and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Joseph Lawless

Q: What is sports vision training?

  • A: Sports vision training is a custom-made program that enhances communication between the brain, body, and eyes when participating in sports. Athletes, both professional and amateur, benefit from sports vision training because it helps them process information and react faster and more accurately to what they see on the field.Sports vision training involves a set of strategies and exercises that teach the brain and body to respond to what the eyes see more efficiently and accurately.

Q: Is sports vision training beneficial for everyone?

  • A: Whether you play basketball, football, hockey or tennis, sports vision training is perfect for anyone of any age seeking to take their performance to the next level.