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 Talkin’ Even More Sports with Dr. G

In the last exciting episode of Talkin’ Sports with Dr. G we were discussing what it is that batters are looking at when waiting for the pitcher to throw the ball. It turns out that they are getting clues from watching the pitcher’s shoulders and body as oppose to just “reading” the ball’s motion. It also turns out this is all pretty much a subconscious process as is so much of the visual process.

It turns out that keeping your eye on the ball doesn’t work in every situation. If batters simply kept their eye on the ball they would rarely be able to hit major league pitching - if ever. And Willie Mays would never have been able to make one of the most spectacular catches in baseball history during game one of the 1954 World Series:

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Talkin’ More Sports with Dr. G

Last time I shared the story of Larry Fitzgerald, one of the National Football League’s elite wide receivers. Fitzgerald is a proponent of vision therapy, which he experienced as a child thanks to the efforts of his grandfather, a behavioral optometrist. As I mentioned in closing last time, almost every athlete can enhance their performance with the help of a vision therapy program.

Some of my patients could run faster, hit baseballs better, play better tennis, bowl better and shoot baskets better after doing some vision therapy. I did have an adult patient who was referred by her workout instructor because her movements were asymmetrical.

Here’s an excerpt from an interview with senior writer at Sports Illustrated and author of The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance, David Epstein. It’s clear Mr. Epstein displayed a limited understanding of the visual process but he made some points I thought were important.

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Talkin’ Sports with Dr. G

Posted January 7, 2014

I have written previously about the importance of the visual process as it relates to sports. Nothing in our culture says action like sports. Whether it’s for recreational purposes or a school team or the Pros, sports equals action. Anyone who’s been reading this blog probably knows what’s coming next, but I have to say it anyway: The primary purpose of the visual process is to direct action. It is very difficult to participate in sports without being able to see, not impossible, but not very easy and it certainly puts you at a disadvantage if you’re playing with those who can see.

Most people, especially those who visit most eye doctors, are left with the impression that the only thing that matters is seeing clearly in the distance. There is so much more to the visual process than just seeing clearly. The visual process enables us to better judge what happens in time and space. Some important aspects of the visual process are eye movements, eye teaming and focusing. These three skills can either add up to provide visual success or failure. All visual skills can be improved with vision therapy. Just ask Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

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Swing And Miss Less With Vision Therapy, continued

Originally posted on August 31st, 2012

Sports and the Visual Process, Part 2

A good sports vision therapy program (and in my experience any good vision therapy program) will help improve eye teaming/depth perception, speed, accuracy and flexibility of focusing, quality of eye movements, eye/hand coordination, reaction time peripheral awareness and visual acuity.  That is certainly the case in my office.  All of these aspects of the visual process are valuable for so much of what we do every day, including athletics.  Working at a computer or at a desk, driving, preparing food, performing surgery…you name it; everything we do relies on our visual skills.  And better visual skills pretty much guarantee better performance.  But when it comes to sports there are few things more important than optimal visual ability.  Most sports require split second timing and decision making.  Good vision therapy enhances the speed and accuracy of visual information processing.  This leads to faster and better decisions on the field, ice, court, etc.

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Originally posted on August 23rd, 2012

Sports and the Visual Process

It’s probably not too difficult to imagine that the visual process is important in sports.  Every sport or athletic activity I can think of (except pin the tail on the donkey and piñata) is played with the eyes open and looking at something.  That’s the first clue.  Many sports involve judging speed and distance, a major responsibility of the visual process.  The importance of the visual process in sports becomes even clearer once you fully appreciate the idea that the primary purpose of the visual process is to direct action.  It is also worth noting that the visual process is pervasive in human behavior. Though the average human spends more time reading than playing sports, the human visual process can easily be thought of as being designed more for things like sports than for things like reading.

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