Sports Vision Training Takes Athletes to New Frontiers

Specialty sports vision facilities are helping athletes train skills that many believed were “untrainable"; skills like anticipation, field vision, timing, sport intelligence, game tempo, reaction speed, focus and concentration.
By: SportsVision Magazine
June 14, 2007 - PRLog -- Montreal, Canada – June 13, 2007:  When the inaugural issue of SportsVision Magazine rolled off the presses earlier this year, it became the first and only print publication in the world to dedicate itself exclusively to the training of visual and brain skills for elite athletic performance.  It may also have been a precursor for a growing trend in athletic training.

While the majority of coaches and athletes are still in the dark about the benefits of sports vision training, those at the highest levels are steamrolling forward.  In May 2007, it was announced that a dedicated vision training center will be set up in Beijing this summer to train all Chinese athletes taking part in next year's Olympic Games.

This month, five-time track and field Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson, announced the opening of the Michael Johnson Performance Center.  The center is a world-class facility designed to train youth, professional, and elite athletes and to help them reach their full athletic potential.  Perhaps the most impressive part of the center is the Nike Sensory Sports Training room, which specializes in training the eyes and the mind.  All athletes entering a training program at the center will go through a seven-part test to assess their visual acuity, reaction time, and eye-body coordination.

And only a few weeks ago, Dynamic Edge Sports Vision Training Centers in Ottawa, Canada opened its doors to the athletic world and became likely the first standalone facility dedicated exclusively to sports vision training.  It may be the first of its kind, but it’s not likely to be the last.  “I believe vision training is going to break wide open,” says Coach Al Wile, assistant director of the US Air Force Academy's Human Performance Lab based in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

What has everyone all worked up is the knowledge that they can actually train athletic skills that many believed were “untrainable.”  We’re talking about intangibles like anticipation, field vision, timing, sport intelligence, game tempo, reaction speed, focus and concentration.  “One of the worst mistakes an athlete can make is to believe that you’re either born with or without these kinds of skills, and that they’re consequently not trainable,” says Brian Stammer, editor of SportsVision Magazine.  “If you want to be the best athlete you can be, you must do exercises to condition and sharpen your sensory system, including visual, auditory and brain-processing speed.”

Slowly but surely, athletes are catching on.  It isn’t the first time that seemingly obvious training techniques have met with resistance.  Coach Wile explains that sports vision, as a training tool, is perhaps at the stage where weight training was 25 years ago.  "It is impossible to scientifically draw a direct link between weight training and enhanced athletic performance in a non-weight lifting competition; though it is a common belief that one exists.  Today, weight training is used to enhance performance in most sports and there is little debate as to the benefits of resistance training with respect to athletics.”

“Likewise,” he says, “it is impossible to draw a direct link between sports vision training and enhanced athletic performance.  Nonetheless, it would make sense that training the visual system, and working the muscles associated with eye movements and eye-hand reflexes would enhance performance in sports that rely on visual input."

Stammer goes even further.  “The misunderstanding of most athletes and coaches is to correlate the importance of sports vision training with the visual demands of the sport,” he says.  “What athletes are now realizing is that sports vision or sensory training is absolutely essential regardless of the sport.  Indeed, like physical conditioning and diet, it can make all the difference in the world, particularly when there is so little to choose between the competition.”

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About SportsVision Magazine:
SportsVision Magazine is published on a quarterly basis and is written in a reader-friendly style for athletes, as well as their coaches, trainers, teachers and parents.  The editorial mandate for the magazine is to report on sports vision as a performance-enhancing skill and to provide its readers with practical drills, exercises and information on sports vision training.


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