Few sports are as physically and visually demanding as hockey. Hitting or blocking a puck moving as fast as 100 MPH requires split-second timing, which relies on your brain and body’s ability to instantly react to what your eyes are seeing. So does your ability to accurately track the rapid movements of your team’s players and opponents.
Failing to accurately perceive and process the visual cues around you can result in defeat on the ice and more importantly, a serious injury.
If you’re one of the many people whose reaction time on the rink needs improvement, don’t despair. At Child and Family Vision Center in Ankeny, we offer sports vision therapy to help you improve your visual skills to excel in hockey and many other sports.
How Does Sports Vision Training Boost Sports Performance?
Sports vision training is a customized program of in-office and at-home exercises offered by optometrists to aspiring and professional athletes of all ages and abilities. A sports vision optometrist will assess your eyesight and the visual skills you need to excel in sports. Even athletes with 20/20 vision may have trouble following the trajectory of a hockey puck or a ball due to underdeveloped visual skills.
Several studies have shown that athletes who underwent sports vision training radically improved their sports performance. This is why many coaches integrate sports vision training into their overall training regimen.
Visual Skills Required For Hockey
The following skills are commonly required for hockey and other fast-moving sports:
Dynamic Vision: Allows you to accurately see the puck flying around the rink when you’re in motion.
Peripheral Vision: Peripheral vision helps players use their side vision to track the puck's movement and other players and take the appropriate action.
Visual Reaction Time: The ability to quickly process visual information helps players to quickly assess and then react to what’s going on in the rink.
Visual Acuity: The ability to recognize small details with precision allows players to observe their opponent's smallest gestures.
Eye-Hand Coordination: Often called eye-hand-body coordination, this visual skill enables players to move their hands and body to block another player on the ice or quickly adjust their hockey stick.
Focusing Speed: When a small puck travels at high speed through a rink 200 feet long and 85 feet wide, the ability to track and focus on the puck is absolutely necessary.
Depth Perception: Depth perception helps players know when and where to interact with the puck by judging its distance, direction and speed.
Speed and Span of Reaction: A player must focus on his assigned task and scan the field to interpret other players' actions across the rink. As the great Wayne Gretzky once said, "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been."
Sports Vision Training in Ankeny
Whether you’re a weekend athlete or on the way to becoming a professional, there’s always room to improve your sports performance by honing your visual skills.
Contact Child and Family Vision Center in Ankeny to schedule a sports vision consultation and to learn more about what we offer.
Our practice serves patients from Ankeney, Des Moines, Bondurant, and Polk City, Iowa and surrounding communities.
Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Erik Romsdahl
Q: Can sports vision training improve your game?
A: Vision therapy reprograms the brain to function more efficiently in processing and responding to visual information. Having well-developed visual skills can help you improve your performance in any sport, including hockey, baseball, soccer and basketball.
Q: What are the causes of a lack of depth perception?
A: Poor depth perception can be due to trauma to the eye, nerve damage, strabismus (eye turn), and amblyopia (lazy eye), among other conditions that result in a loss of vision or function in the eye. For example, if one eye’s vision is chronically blurry, the brain automatically ignores images from that eye to avoid confusion or double vision. This leaves you unable to see images in 3 dimensions.