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37 Corner House
Woodquay
Galway

Phone: 091- 563107
Fax: 091- 561115
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Knocknacarra
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Sports Vision


Sportsvision is a combination of:

• Visual Skills
• Brain Skills
• Sports Psychology


“When vision training begins, just as when a new correction is first worn, athletes perception of where objects are in space is likely to change and their understanding of timing will also change. This is because time distance and space are inextricably linked in most sporting activities. Altering the perception of any one of these elements will change the perception of others”.



Visual Skills:


The above three make up an athlete’s so called “ intangible “ skill set.
These intangible skills we refer to as “Sportsvision “.

• Field vision and peripheral awareness
• Mental Toughness and visualisation
• Reaction time and anticipation
• Attention, Focus and concentration.
• Balance, speed and agility
• Game strategy and creativity


Training and conditioning their visual skills enables athletes to quickly and accurately recognise and process visual information. It is the first step in getting the body to make the proper response in competition.




Step 1: Eye Examination

The first step in improving an athletes visual skills is to ensure that their eyesight is good. Sight refers to how well you can read the eye chart. Vision, on the other hand, is how well your eyes inform your brain.In other words, the quality of your vision depends on the quality of your sight.
Early diagnosis and treatment of eye and visual problems are important for maintaining good vision and eye health, therefore we recommend regular eye examinations every 2 years.


Step 2 : Eye Correction

If there is a problem with the athletes eyesight the next step is correction, usually, corrective measures for an athlete would include prescription eyewear, contact lenses or laser surgery.


Step 3: Eye Excercises

Training the visual system means working the muscles associated with eye movements and eye – body reflexes in order to enhance performance in sports that rely on visual input.

Visual skills can be loosely categorised into two groups, visual motor skilsl, which are generally the ability to move and adjust the eyes and visual perceptual skills which refer more to the ability to process visual information.




Summary of Visual skills which are most important for athletic performances and which can be improved with eye exercises and a vision training programme.


Trainable Visual Skills
Discription
Focusing
Focusing is the ability to quickly and accurately change focus from a near to a far point.
In Baseball, for example, focussing skills refer to the ability of the hitter to focus on the position of outfielders, infielders, gaps, coaches signals, the catcher, and the pitcher, all of which are at varying distances.


Tracking

Tracking the ability to clearly and accurately follow a moving object as it flies through the air or moves on ground.

In Hockey, for example, it is the ability of a goaltender to sharply see the puck as it is shot towards the net from the blue line at up to 90mph. It is also the ability of a puck carrier to clearly see an open team mate while both are in motion.
Depth Perception

Depth perception skills allow an athlete to accurately judge distances and to react quickly.

In competitive swimming for example, swimmers with a better depth perception skills may be better able to time their turns and their finishes at the wall, thereby giving them a slight competitive advantage.
Visual Alignment

Visual alignment is the ability of the eyes to work together as they focus on different points at varying distances, and to keep the two eyes working together without strain or double vision.

In Golf, for example , a player who is continually missing putts to the right or left may have a problem related to alignment.

Eye-Body Coordination

Eye- hand, eye-foot and eye-body coordination skills involve the input of visual information to the brain and the interpretaion of that information by the brain to coordinate movement.

It is evident that all sports involving a projectile, for example, require excellent hand-eye and/or hand-foot coordination in order to catch, hit or kick the object.

Brain Skills

Brain Skills are one of the four pillars that make up an athlete’s so-called set of “intangible” skills.

The brain is the control centre of the entire body. Physically, the difference between the top echelon of athletes in a particular sport and the middle of the pack is marginal. Mentally, the gap can be enormous. Why? The answer is quite simply, a better trained brain.

Mind Speed- You see it in many sports, athletes that seem to defy nature with uncanny anticipation, split-second moves or perfectly-executed blind passes while under severe pressure from opponents.

What makes such great plays possible is speed. It’s not the kind of speed we normally see and think of, but rather mind speed, information-processing speed, mental quickness, and brain clarity that allows the body to move without any conscious thought.

Athletes who try to think and analyse will be stopped in their tracks. The eye must be trained to load the brain with visual cues and information. And the brain must recognise, process and react without thought



“ What really sets the special athletes apart is their ability to act and react at a fraction of a second faster than their opponents.”



The table below summarises the brain skills which are most important for athletic performance and which can be improved with purposeful exercises and a cognitive training program.


Trainable Skills
Description
Perpheral Awareness
Peripheral Awareness is the ability of an athlete to perceive what’s going on around her without turning her head.
Athletes with a better developed peripheral awareness are able to pick up more information and visual cues from the periphery, which enable them to react in ways that would not even occur to others.

Visual Memory
Peripheral Awareness is the ability of an athlete to perceive what’s going on around her without turning her head.
Athletes with a better developed peripheral awareness are able to pick up more information and visual cues from the periphery, which enable them to react in ways that would not even occur to others
.

Visualisation

Visualisation is getting yourself into a deeply- relaxed state and then using your mind to create positive images of something you want to occur.

Visualisation techniques develop the subconscious mind. As mind speed is measured in milliseconds and occurs without conscious thought, visualisation techniques are a powerful tool for training mental quickness.

Reaction Speed

Reaction speed refers to how quickly an athlete’s brain processes the information it receives from the eyes and transmits that information to the body for the correct movement.

Research studies indicate that the difference in abilities of skilled and unskilled athletes to react to visual information does not depend on the speed of the visual system.

Rather, it lies in the organisation of the motor system that uses the output of the visual system. In other words, brain processing speed.



Sports Psychology

Sports Psychology is one of the pillars that make up an athletes so-called set of “ intangible skills”.

Sports Psychology refers to an athlete’s ability to maximise performance by managing negative thoughts and emotions through consistent practice of mental skills.

All athletes fall victim to slumps, mistakes and mental letdowns from time to time. Psychological skills training can help athletes maintain concentration, control stress levels and limit the likelihood that mental issues will overshadow their physical skills and performance.





The table below summarises the sports psychology skills which are most important to athletic performance and which can be improved with mental skills training.

Trainable Skills
Description
Mental Toughness
Mental toughness is having a psychological edge that enables an athlete to cope better with adversity than opponents and to remain in control, determined, focused, confident, and resilient under pressure.
Focus and Concentration

The ability to focus allows athletes to isolate important information needed for performance from irrelevant stimuli which cause distraction.

Athletes with good concentration skills can remain fully focussed on the task at hand in the face of distractions such as loud noises from cheering crowds and flashes of lights from photographers
Breathing and Relaxing

Being in a relaxed state is important for achieving peak performance. One way to help athletes during clutch periods is to use breathing techniques.

Breathing techniques are simple and powerful, yet few athletes take the time to learn and perfect these skills.
Visualisation

Visualisation is the process of creating a mental image or intention of what an athlete wants to happen. Many athletes now routinely use visualisation techniques as part of training.

Research shows that physical skills can actually be improved with visualisation. Repeated mental imagery, it has been found, can build both experience and confidence in an athletes ability to perform certain skills under pressure.
Preparation

How an athlete prepares mentally before an important competition can greatly influence their performance.

Positive self-talk, positive affirmations and a positive pre-event routine can help re-focus the mind and overcome problems associated with a negative attitude, such as fear, intimidation and self doubt







“Consistency is vitally important in any sport, for this reason it is critical not to train athletes too close to an event. Many Sportsvision practitioners prefer to work in the closed season so there is time for the athletes to settle into their new perception space. Again, a period of three to six weeks should be allowed to pass before re-evaluating the effect of training on performance.”




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