Eye exercises for athletes — guest post by Brett Oliveira
Posted Oct 22 2011 8:45pm
The average athlete is overwhelmed with the pressures of accuracy, strong reflexes and most importantly, visual acuity. This mastery of vision can be perfected with the completion of a few simple daily exercises of the eye that can take less than 30 minutes.
Improving your vision means increasing the rate at which the eye sends visual information back to the receptive channels in your brain. This same relationship is involved with your reaction time, which modern psychology shows is actually shaped by a standard backdating of 500 ms within your brain. That means that everything you experience has already been reacted to by your unconscious processes half a second before you consciously perceive something.
In the case of athletics (especially with a sport like baseball), this 500 ms can affect when, where, and how you kick or swing at a ball. What you perceive during this short period, of course, is determined by the strength and ability of your eyes’ seven muscles – whether that’s your eyes’ ability to see depth or react to fast movements that the untrained eye follows at a slower speed.
20-20 vision is the competitive key for a lot of athletes’ game, and is a core characteristic behind every great, driven Olympian. The first step to improving vision, of course, comes with receiving an eye exam that includes a depth perception, contrast, and peripheral vision test. These tests will determine your eyes’ natural ability to do things like separate colors from their backgrounds, follow moving objects, and react to things not quite in your direct line of vision.
A simple example of a test to increase reaction time and eye muscle strength is placing a selected number of images on a wall and proceeding to choose one in particular to focus on amongst the cluster. (Be sure to measure the distance in which you are standing away from the wall.) The goal is to increase contrast perception and the rate at which your eye can spot the difference between X image over Y image. If you find yourself to be the more creative type, visualization can be a quick and effective way to exercise eye muscles. Other simple exercises may be more sports-related (including ball-hitting drills if you’re a baseball player), and a variety of additional easy-to-use tests can be found online.
Athletes should take note that these exercises are not meant to create the utopian set of eyes, and will not cure any unrelated eye diseases. Visual and health differences between the left and right eye should also be taken into consideration when going through these exercises. Consultation with an eye doctor before beginning these exercises is advised.
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