A guide to incredible sports vision performance

by Dr. Dan Laby

The information here will cover the areas of vision (the eye) as well as the brain processing of vision. We will examine the role of visual information in decision making and action (the brain). A very large portion of the brain feels with vision. There is lots to cover and consider. We will maximize all aspects of visual function for maximal sports performance.

This information, although most relevant for athletes, is also relevant and useful for everyone! We all use our vision on a daily basis. In fact we use it every waking hour, to navigate the world successfully and make correct decisions. From driving a car to crossing the street vision and the processing of visual information is critical. It is also a part of our success and health!

The Sports Vision Pyramid

We will follow the sports vision pyramid approach to sports vision – working from the bottom up to insure maximal performance. A detailed description of the sports vision pyramid will follow shortly, but here is a brief introduction:

The Sports Vision Pyramid

The Sports Vision pyramid has five levels and each level builds upon the next. As is true for any pyramid – its stability depends on a wide base and a slow taper towards the top. That is true for the sports vision pyramid as well! We maximize each level, then we work on higher levels. This will insure a very stable and strong pyramid. It does not make sense to train hand eye coordination before making sure the basic vision level (bottom of the pyramid) is maximal.

The Bottom Levels

The bottom level of the pyramid relates to how well each eye, individually, can see targets. Specifically, the ability to see small targets, faint targets (low contrast) and to be able to correctly identify the targets when only having a brief look/glimpse. We can test for this with each eye separately (more on the YouTube channel and coming to this blog) and identify issues and make corrections.

After we are sure that the bottom level is optimal, we test how the two eyes are working together. This involves testing the depth perception or stereo vision ability. If a problem is found we can correct it or optimize it.

Processing of visual information and Motor action 

The next level relates to how the visual information is processed, mainly to create a go or no-go decision. This area also involves testing the brain’s ability to direct attention to a specific target in anticipation of an event or an action as well as minimizing any negative biases that may affect the quality and the sped of that visual information processing.

Lastly, with a visual based decision, the athlete must make a motor action to carry out that decision – here we look at things like made-eye or foot-eye coordination, reaction times, etc – all of which can be tested and trained.

If all is maximized through every level of the pyramid, then the athlete will have the best chance to succeed in their sport – reaching the top of the sports vision pyramid!

Here is an example of how an optimized sports vision pyramid leads to incredible sports performance.

Closing thoughts

We will have much more detail on each of these levels, each of the ways to test, and most importantly how to train and maximize visual performance, leading to on-field performance.

We will keep the discussion here scientifically based, and avoid providing non-data driven information. Unfortunately there are too many in the field who “say” they know what is best to do, but base that advice on none or minimal scientific information. We will be a different resource, backed by science and 30+ years working with Professional and Elite athletes in sports.