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Vision Therapy Center at New Baltimore Optometry

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How Sports Vision Training Can Help You Ski Like a Pro

Research shows that more than 80% of what we learn comes via the visual system. That percentage goes up even more when you are talking about sports, because the eyes direct the movements of the body. Sports vision training can help you ski like a pro.

What is Sport Vision Training?

Sports vision training is a regimen of visual exercises aimed at improving the visual skills necessary to excel at various sports. Through a series of specific and comprehensive tests, a sports vision optometrist can determine the functioning of each of your visual skills.

Sports vision training programs develop skills like hand-eye coordination, visual reaction time, dynamic visual activity, peripheral vision, eye tracking and focusing.

Necessary Visual Skills for Skiing

Excelling at skiing requires several visual skills. When these skills are improved, they can make you a better skier:

  • Contrast sensitivity – the ability to distinguish between an object and its background. This is critical for skiing. You must be able to see every shadow in the snow, so you know when to turn and anticipate changes in the snow or mountain conditions.
  • Depth perception – the ability to quickly and accurately judge the distance and speed of objects. Good awareness of space is so important when skiing. It allows for higher speed and increased safety.
  • Reaction time – how quickly a person perceives an anticipated visual event and how quickly they can react to that stimulus. The faster you see it, the faster you react, the faster you move.
  • Peripheral awareness – the ability to see things out of the corner of your eye. Skiers need to be able to see obstacles and other skiers at the edges of their visual field. When we are stressed or our adrenaline is running high, we tend to shut down our peripheral vision. Being awareness of obstacles and other skiers can give you a competitive edge and boost safety.
  • Gross visual-motor skills – the ability to coordinate is fundamental for taking every turn exactly as planned. When your vision and motor skills are perfectly aligned you can be in complete control of your movements.
  • Focus control – training your eyes to maintain simultaneous focus and quickly shift focus from near to far. As you speed downhill, what was far away a second ago is suddenly right in front of you.

There are many visual skills that apply to sports, and they are all essential. Learning your strengths and weaknesses in each of the visual skills listed above and following the right plan can make you a better and safer skier.

Contact The Sports Vision Center at New Baltimore Optometry to book an evaluation of your visual skills and to learn more about sports vision training.

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

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The Importance of Eye-Hand-Body Coordination in Basketball

If you watched the NBA’s recently concluded playoffs, you saw Miami’s Bam Adebayo win a game by shifting laterally under the basket, leaping, and blocking a would-be dunk by Boston’s Jayson Tatum.

Now consider the skills that went into this brilliant play. First, Adebayo visually tracked his teammates’ and opponents’ whereabouts; then he considered multiple options, figured out Tatum’s strategy, devised a defensive strategy, and executed it – all within a few seconds.

How’s that for eye-hand-body coordination?

That coordination — which is actually a form of communication between the eyes, brain and body — relies on the signals your eyes send to your brain.

Even athletes with 20/20 vision can benefit from perfecting their visual skills to boost their performance. To succeed at basketball, players require the following visual skills:

· Tracking and focusing: closely following the basketball’s movement so that if a ball comes loose after a rebound, you can track its direction and the pace and height of its bounces.

· Depth perception: being able to calculate the basketball’s distance from you or the basket. This requires your eyes and brain to determine how far you are from the ball, how many strides you’ll need to reach it, and how many more strides it will take to reach the basket and go on to score.

· Peripheral vision: seeing what’s around you while looking straight ahead allows you to see opponents racing toward the basket even when they’re at the edge of your visual field.

· Focus flexibility: shifting focus between near and far objects enables you to look directly at the ball, then rapidly redirect attention to your opponent, and then rapidly back at the ball.

· Dynamic visual acuity: accounting for key details of fast-moving objects, like the color of the jersey of the player rushing toward you. Each option –opponent or teammate – calls for a vastly different response.

What Happens in the Exam Room Translates to the Court

In sports vision training, Dr. Joseph Lawless will devise a customized regimen of exercises relating directly to the visual skills mentioned above. At home, you’ll practice these skills.

How long will your sports vision training last? From several weeks to several months. The techniques will accustom your brain to quickly respond to sports situations. Through repeated practice, you’ll develop visual memory for better eye-hand-body coordination during your team’s games and scrimmages.

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

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Sports Vision Training for Hockey Players

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Sports Vision Training for Hockey Players

“If you are not seeing it, nothing else matters! Your eyes are the basis of your whole game.” The words of Braden Holtby, NHL All-Star goalie, says it all. To play elite hockey, you need visual processing speed and accuracy that’s equally elite. Ambitious hockey players start basic eye training exercises at a young age; however, an individualized vision training program can boost an athlete’s performance from good to excellent.

Sports vision therapists, such as Dr. Joseph Lawless, help aspiring and professional hockey players alike to improve and enhance these essential vision skills for better reaction time, stick handling, and pass/shoot accuracy. Based on the individual visual skills and the requirements of the position they play, skaters receive a tailor-made exercise program.

A minor improvement in the visual skills can have a major impact on the performance.

Elite Hockey Performance Requires Elite Visual Skills

Hockey is one of the fastest sports in the world. At the professional level, the puck reaches speeds of 100 miles/h. Players need to visually track this small black disk in motion, while keeping tabs on 11 other players in motion. Keeping visual track of opponents and teammates, anticipating actions, and making or blocking the shot all require sophisticated neuro-visual processing which can be improved through sports vision training.

young hockey player in redVisual Skills for Hockey

  • Depth Perception: This visual skill is essential for all positions, and is specifically crucial for a goalie. Excellent depth perception allows accurate judgment of the speed, distance, and direction of the puck, which need to be optimized for the elite performance during this fast-paced game.
    Players in other positions need to know their teammates’ locations in reference to the opponents’ locations and where they are moving, to make effective passes. In a one-on-one situation, good depth perception helps to determine when to make a move and how to get around the defensive player blocking the goal.
    Superb depth perception also allows players in all positions to better judge the movement of the puck in relation to the stationary lines and moving players to prevent off-sides.
  • Peripheral Vision: Excellent peripheral vision enables the skater to know where the boards, players, puck, and the goal are at all times, even when they are not directly looking at these things. This also allows them to predict what will happen next and act accordingly.
    As an example, the sooner the centerman identifies the opposing defender will attempt an intercept of the puck from a particular side, the earlier he can respond with a pass to his forward on the other side.
    Goalies rely on good peripheral vision to defend the goal from multiple opponents approaching the net.
  • Visual Reaction Time: A quick response can help a player control a rebound or create a turnover; help a center to win the draw, a goalie to make the save, or determine if you avoid or take a body check at the wrong time. The faster a skater processes visual information, the more effectively he can respond.
  • Eye-Hand/Body/Foot Coordination: Hockey players must be able to synchronize their movements on skates while using a stick to control and move the puck. At the same time, they need to keep their vision focused on their target and also scan the surroundings.
    Effectively organizing these activities to meet the objectives of the game requires exceptional coordination and balancing skills.
  • Visual Acuity: In an active and fast-moving game such as hockey, maximum static, and dynamic visual acuity are essential. Dynamic visual acuity is the ability to accurately see the puck while moving around the defenseman, shifting the balance from side to side and turning the head to find a teammate for a pass.
  • Speed of Focusing: Tracking the puck also requires a rapid change of focus. With the small black disk rapidly coming close, the goalie’s eyes must adapt from far focus to near focus in milliseconds.
    The game’s dynamic nature forces players to discern fine details to prevent penalties or other line calls.
  • Focusing: Most hockey rinks are over 200 ft long and 85 ft across, whilst the puck is only 3 inches wide. In order to accurately follow the puck, the skater needs to maintain a very clear vision and be able to change his/her focus over this distance very rapidly.
  • Color Perception: Distinct color perception is useful in recognizing fellow players without raising the head to look at their jerseys. Good contrast and color perception can help identify players even when the skater is not looking directly at them. As a result, it takes less time to react and make the shot.
  • Eye Dominance: Determining which eye is stronger may help to decide if a player should skate on the right-wing or the left-wing.
  • Visual Fixation: Keeping the eyes fixed on a specific moving object is critical, especially for goalies and defensemen, who must focus and lock in on an incoming puck.

hockey teamEffective Hockey Vision Training For Your Team

Any skill can and must be trained if you want excellent performance. Juggling and bouncing balls off the wall are not enough to achieve the level of excellence required for becoming a champion. To make the most of every player’s talent, you need to know their particular strengths and weaknesses. Only a sport-specific, goal-oriented vision training program based on the players’ sports vision profiles can optimize their visual skills.

The training may vary according to the position of the skater and his/her sports vision profile. A defenseman may need to enhance peripheral vision, whereas the goaltender may primarily work on depth perception.

The Role of the Sports Vision Therapist

We recommend a sports vision assessment for every competitive athlete, regardless of their level of ability or seniority. A sports vision therapist, such as Dr. Joseph Lawless, will evaluate visual functioning as it pertains to hockey performance.

Based on this assessment, the sports vision optometrist creates an individual sports vision profile and builds a training plan directed towards achieving individual goals.

Generally, the hockey player will attend weekly in-office training sessions followed with daily exercises, which the player can carry out at home or as part of the team training. We can also work with the coach and parents to set goals and follow up on the player’s progress.

Make an appointment with Dr. Joseph Lawless at The Sports Vision Center at New Baltimore Optometry to help improve visual skills and hockey performance.

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

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Baseball Vision Training

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Baseball Vision Training

The legendary Ted Williams is said to have had such an acute sense of sight, that he could pick out the individual stitches on the ball and count everyone. There are many visual skills that can make the difference between a decent baseball player and a professional. At the The Sports Vision Center at New Baltimore Optometry we use advanced sports vision training to enhance and sharpen an athletes latent visual skills. This gives our patients a considerable edge over the competition.

Professional Baseball Performance Requires Better than 20/20 Visual Acuity

It’s been long understood that high-performance baseball is about more than batting averages and fielding. 20/20 visual acuity is great for driving over to a corner diner and ordering a meal. But playing baseball at the height of game requires more than 20/20 vision. If you can’t see better than 20/15, odds are you won’t make it to a high level in baseball.

Baseball Vision Training 2

Over 70% of Major League Baseball players have better than 20/15 vision.

Beyond visual acuity, there are a lot of visual skills going on behind the scenes that are absolutely essential to playing competitive sport. When it comes to baseball, this includes:

  • Peripheral vision
  • Reaction time
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Contrast Sensitivity
  • Depth Perception

All these skills can be improved through Sports Vision Training.

Improving Your Decision-Making Response in Baseball

Making the right decision in a fraction of a second is what sets pro athletes apart. For example, understanding when to swing at a pitch, as well as catching and throwing the ball accurately, requires a finely honed level of depth-perception, reaction time, and eye-hand coordination. These are all skills that can be improved through Sports Vision Training, which we offer at The Sports Vision Center at New Baltimore Optometry, to patients in and around New Baltimore, Macomb, Sterling Heights within the state of Michigan.

Contrast Sensitivity Means Seeing the Baseball when it Counts the Most

Contrast sensitivity is your visual ability to accurately perceive an object against a background. In baseball, this could mean seeing the seams on a pitch when the baseball is covered in dirt or seeing a fly-ball in the air in the bright sun. A professional level of contrast sensitivity can be developed with the right Sports Vision Training.

Our practice serves patients from New Baltimore, Macomb, Sterling Heights, and Detroit, Michigan and surrounding communities.
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Sports Vision Training for Basketball Skills

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Sports Vision Training for Basketball Skills

There are numerous visual-perceptual skills that make the difference between a great and an exceptional basketball player. Strength and basic coordination are not enough to be at the top of the game.

Dr. Joseph Lawless, together with the attentive staff at The Sports Vision Center at New Baltimore Optometry, will ensure that you receive top-notch eye vision therapy to improve these crucial skills.

The visual skills required for elite basketball performance include:

  • Predictive visual memory
  • Peripheral vision
  • Real-time reaction processing
  • Hand-eye coordination

These skills are what make the difference between professional play and weekend casual fun. Fortunately, these visual processes can be refined and improved through sports vision therapy. Using a series of drills and exercises customized to the player and demands of top basketball, Dr. Joseph Lawless will work to retrain the neuro-visual processes which define how well an athlete performs these crucial visual tasks.

Vision Skills Required By an Elite Basketball

Let’s take an example. The point guard is constantly surveying the court of players in motion. Who is open? When will they become open, based on all the moving parts of the game? Accuracy is everything and that depends entirely on visual processing skills such as predictive visual memory and peripheral vision to take in all the variables in motion on the court. It also requires exceptional and real-time reaction processing to choose the pass or shot that stands the best chance of success. And the same is true for any other position on the court.

This is where sports vision training can help. Dr. Joseph Lawless will conduct assessments, drills, and exercises to expand a player’s peripheral vision so they can see the whole court and anticipate moves by the opposing team. At the same time, Dr. Joseph Lawless will also work to improve hand-eye coordination, which leads to better ball-handling skills and reaction time so that the player can be faster and adapt perfectly on-the-fly to high-speed play dynamics.

Sports vision training enhances all these neuro-visual skills for maximum speed, accuracy, and performance! Give us a call for a free consultation.

Our practice serves patients from New Baltimore, Macomb, Sterling Heights, and Detroit, Michigan and surrounding communities.
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Sports Vision Training for Football

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Sports Vision Training for Football

No matter what position you play, your core athletic skills come down to how quickly and accurately you visually interpret and react to the play in real-time. These skills can be refined, improved, and enhanced through sports vision training. At the The Sports Vision Center at New Baltimore Optometry, near New Baltimore, Dr. Joseph Lawless can help professional and aspiring athletes to maximize their game.

Enhanced Vision Skills for Football

It takes way more than strength and speed to play at the top. The skills required by an elite football player—the skills that make the difference between good and great—all depend on vision skills which can be perfected. These skills include:

  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Peripheral vision
  • Reaction time
  • Visual memory
  • Depth-perception

All these core vision skills that make or break an athlete can be improved, so you can dramatically up your game.

Sports Vision Training for Football 2Vision Skills Required by the Quarterback

Before the play, the Quarterback goes up to the line and needs to take in the whole field, movement of players from both sides as well as direction and speed. He needs to react to the defense based on that visual memory and what he picks up on visual cues—to predict what opposing players, as well as teammates, are about to do before the play.

During the play, he has about 3 seconds to drawback, assess 3-5 potential receivers in time and space, and predict who has the best chance of being open and making the catch. He then needs to complete the pass all while avoid getting tackled himself.

Acute peripheral vision and exceptional reaction time are pivotal to quarterback’s success.

Vision Skills Required by the Running-Back

The running-back is standing behind the quarterback and relies on visual memory as to who is where, and where the hole is. Does he need to cut to the right or left? When the ball snaps and he gets the ball, he has to see the players beyond the first yard and make snap decisions in motion. Right, left or ahead?

This requires amazing peripheral vision and awareness of all players, where they are, and their direction and speed. Most importantly, he has to accurately interpret all that visual information and rapidly make a decision.

Vision Skills Required by the Receiver

Before the play, the receiver is reading the visual cues from the quarterback and has to rely on visual memory once the play starts. He MUST know that the quarterback will throw the ball when he’s in a specific position. To do this, he relies on trainable visual memory. To predict the path of the ball accurately and move to catch it successfully even when the sun is in your eyes, he needs to remember exactly where the ball going when his view was obstructed.

Vision Skills Required by the Linebacker

The linebacker relies on much the same vision skills as the quarterback and running-back, just from the opposite side. Has to predict what they’re doing in order to intercept the pass or tackle the runner or quarterback.

All these visual skills, from visual memory, hand-eye coordination and reaction time, can be significantly improved through sports vision training at the The Sports Vision Center at New Baltimore Optometry. For an assessment of more information, please give us a call.

Our practice serves patients from New Baltimore, Macomb, Sterling Heights, and Detroit, Michigan and surrounding communities.
Learn More About Sports Vision Training
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