Visual Skills Glossary
Speed and Span of Recognition
How much information a player is able to take in at once and how quickly he is able to interpret it. An increase in an athlete’s speed in recognizing a visual stimulus results in a physical response that is much quicker and more accurate.
The eyes lead the body, not the other way around. The visual system leads the motor system. Our hands or feet or body respond to the information the eyes have sent to the brain. If this information is incorrect, even to the slightest degree, there is a good chance that we will make a mistake in our physical response. Almost every sport error, or poorly executed play, can be attributed to faulty visual judgment, and it is visual judgment alone that determines eye-hand coordination.
This must not be confused with peripheral vision, which cannot be changed. Peripheral vision is dictated by the skeletal structure and the shape of the retina, so what you’re born with is what you’ve got and barring injury or disease, it’s what you will die with. Peripheral awareness, on the other hand, can be greatly enhanced by using retinal stimulation. Well developed peripheral awareness helps the athlete to see everything at once, to maintain the whole pattern or the flow of the play, even as they move within it.
The ability to accurately perceive or anticipate what is about to happen, and when. Visual skills training improves your ability to selectively detect important advance physical cues. However, since timing is the key to effective performance, it’s important not to over anticipate and commit yourself too soon. Most efforts fail not because the physical movements were wrong, but because they were made at the wrong time. The ability to anticipate is a major factor in high level competitive activities, and even superior speed, size and reflexes cannot compensate for the insufficient processing of the visual information regarding when to perform.
Visual Reaction Time
The amount of time required to process the visual information and initiate a physical reaction/response.
The ability to maintain a high level of focus on a key targetor objective, in spite of distractions, while also maintaining total awareness of what is happening around you.
Focusing and Tracking
Focusing flexibility and tracking are two separate skills, but inseparable as they must work together to achieve good, clear vision; for example, keeping your eyes on the ball. This requires both the ability to change focus instantaneously as objects move closer to or further away from you (accommodation), as well as the ability to keep both eyes working in unison as they track rapidly moving objects (convergence/divergence). Studies have shown that if the athlete’s head has to move to aid in eye tracking, his performance is not only less efficient, but balance is thrown off too.
Both eyes working together to give us the ability to judge the distance, the speed and the revolution of objects in space. Poor eye teaming can cause your eyes to misjudge the precise distance of your target, which in turn will cause your brain to misjudge the correct distance. If you perceive the target closer, you will react too soon. If you perceive it farther, you will react too late.