All athletes want a competitive advantage. After all, the goal in most sports is to win! To the serious competitor, that competitive advantage is a result of hard work, body conditioning and practice at developing the fundamental skills that are unique to the sport. But what truly differentiates the good players from the great players is not being the strongest or the one with the best technique. The real differentiator that provides the competitive advantage for the player is having developed the best visual skills for the game.
Arnold Palmer, while discussing the Senior PGA Tournament once said, “You will see some excellent golf being played on the senior tour. Some of them can hit the ball farther than they ever did in the regular circuit. The only difference is, sometimes they three-putt.” His point was that the seniors have established their technique involving a great tempo, rhythm and swing. Plus you would think that their experience would make them experts at reading the greens. So, what is missing? The one area that is often missing is concentration on visual position and then the visual skills to execute an accurate motor response. These specific visual abilities can be divided into 3 major sports vision categories:
- To visually fixate and focus on a specific primary ball position which is very dependent on the shot
- To binocularly align the eyes for effective stereopsis or 3-D vision to effective judge spatial elements of the course, especially the greens
- To mentally rehearse and prepare for the shot through the act of visualization which sets the stage for the eyes and the visual brain to tell the muscles what to do.
An excellent book, entitled An Insight to Sports – Featuring Trapshooting and Golf, written by Wayne F. Martin, O.D. outlines some of the key visual skills as well as some sports vision activities that can be done at home to sharpen the visual skills that are often a part of an intensive office-based sports vision/vision therapy program.
The key to understand is that these visual abilities can be developed and as a result the individual will gain a competitive advantage.
This is true for the golfer, even the senior golfer like those playing in the 73rd Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores Golf Club . This big event brings a spot light of focus to our practice community in Benton Harbor and Saint Joseph, Michigan from May 22-27, 2012.
Getting better in one’s own game is the focus of both the professional athlete and the weekend amateur and also the children in vision therapy at Wow Vision Therapy with vision-based reading disabilities. For the parent, the goal is to see their child gain in their reading abilities. This is truly a confidence builder. But what is the “icing on the cake” for a child who has had vision therapy is their newly found competitive advantage in sports. There is nothing like the feeling of success for a child who gains the visual skills and the competitive advantage in sports as well as in the classroom.
Here is an example of what this means to a child!
Dan L. Fortenbacher, O.D.,FCOVD