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Visual Skills for Mountain Biking

Experts say that sports performance is directly related to visual skills. So by improving your visual skills, you’ll reap the reward in your performance. Sports vision training enhances the communication between the brain and the nine muscles of the eye to improve focus, reflexes, balance[, and] scanning ability.

When mountain biking, you need your eyes to quickly and efficiently convey information to your brain so it can make fast, accurate decisions to guide your body. Sports vision training can speed up your reflexes and increase your visual endurance and coordination.

Taking control of your vision can have a huge impact on the flow and speed of your riding. But becoming faster isn’t just about getting the technique right. It’s also about practice.

How Vision Works

To become a better mountain biker you need to have well-developed visual control. There are two types of vision that our eyes use to process information: ambient and focal. They work separately to deliver information from the eyes to the brain.

Ambient vision helps us move about in our environment and creates spatial awareness.

That’s central to mountain biking. Think about it. When biking on a rocky path you need to be aware of your surroundings, all while balancing on the bike at a fast pace. Your ambient vision helps you stay upright and to prevent collisions with objects in your surroundings.

Focal vision helps us see detail and recognize objects and colors.

Your focal vision focuses on the details of objects, then processes the information it sees. In mountain biking this translates to spotting and avoiding the sharpest rocks in your path. While you are actively focusing on the path, your ambient vision is still functioning, but it is not the dominant visual sense.

Sports Vision Training and Mountain Biking

Sports vision training can help improve your focal and ambient vision to improve your mountain biking skills. It works on improving:

  • Balance: the ability to stay in control of your body
  • Depth Perception: accurately and quickly judge the distance and speed of something
  • Dynamic Visual Acuity: learning to see objects clearly while they’re in motion
  • Focusing: changing focus from one object to another clearly and quickly
  • Peripheral Awareness: the ability to see objects out of the corner of your eye

Improving these skills will improve your biking experience, enabling you to control how you react to what you see on the trail while maintaining speed. Knowing when you’re too close to the edge of a cliff, or the distance between you and a tree will also make you a safer biker.

Contact Visual Symptoms Treatment Center to learn more about sports vision training to improve your vision while you’re biking down that rocky trail.

Our practice serves patients from Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Northbrook, and Deerfield, Illinois and surrounding communities.
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Body Coordination in Basketball

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The Importance of Eye-Hand-Body Coordination in Basketball

If you watched the NBA’s recently concluded playoffs, you saw Miami’s Bam Adebayo win a game by shifting laterally under the basket, leaping, and blocking a would-be dunk by Boston’s Jayson Tatum.

Now consider the skills that went into this brilliant play. First, Adebayo visually tracked his teammates’ and opponents’ whereabouts; then he considered multiple options, figured out Tatum’s strategy, devised a defensive strategy, and executed it – all within a few seconds.

How’s that for eye-hand-body coordination?

That coordination — which is actually a form of communication between the eyes, brain and body — relies on the signals your eyes send to your brain.

Even athletes with 20/20 vision can benefit from perfecting their visual skills to boost their performance. To succeed at basketball, players require the following visual skills:

· Tracking and focusing: closely following the basketball’s movement so that if a ball comes loose after a rebound, you can track its direction and the pace and height of its bounces.

· Depth perception: being able to calculate the basketball’s distance from you or the basket. This requires your eyes and brain to determine how far you are from the ball, how many strides you’ll need to reach it, and how many more strides it will take to reach the basket and go on to score.

· Peripheral vision: seeing what’s around you while looking straight ahead allows you to see opponents racing toward the basket even when they’re at the edge of your visual field.

· Focus flexibility: shifting focus between near and far objects enables you to look directly at the ball, then rapidly redirect attention to your opponent, and then rapidly back at the ball.

· Dynamic visual acuity: accounting for key details of fast-moving objects, like the color of the jersey of the player rushing toward you. Each option –opponent or teammate – calls for a vastly different response.

What Happens in the Exam Room Translates to the Court

In sports vision training, Dr. Neil Margolis will devise a customized regimen of exercises relating directly to the visual skills mentioned above. At home, you’ll practice these skills.

How long will your sports vision training last? From several weeks to several months. The techniques will accustom your brain to quickly respond to sports situations. Through repeated practice, you’ll develop visual memory for better eye-hand-body coordination during your team’s games and scrimmages.

Our practice serves patients from Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Northbrook, and Deerfield, Illinois and surrounding communities.

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Rock Climbing and Sports Vision

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Take Rock Climbing to the Next Level With Sports Vision Training

Rock climbing is a physically and mentally demanding sport that tests a climber’s strength, endurance, and balance.

Yet many climbers don’t realize that their visual skills play a crucial role in judging the distance between rocks, or whether one foothold is more secure than another. If a climber’s visual skills are subpar, it will negatively affect their eye-hand-body coordination — and their safety.

Sports vision training focuses on honing the specific visual skills athletes need to excel at their chosen sport. Through visual tests and screenings, an eye doctor can determine which visual skills an athlete needs to improve.

The doctor will design an individualized sports vision training program to address the athlete’s strengths and weaknesses. The program will focus on skills like eye-hand-body coordination, dynamic visual activity, visual reaction time, peripheral vision, and tracking focusing, so athletes can reach their full potential.

Below are three visual skills every rock climber should have.

Sports Vision Skills for Rock Climbing

Visual–Vestibular Integration

The vestibular system, a sensory system within your inner ear, is what gives you your sense of balance and spatial orientation. It works in conjunction with your visual system.

Vision therapy works to integrate these two systems.

In rock climbing, visual-vestibular integration enables climbers to complete a complex climb by maintaining their balance without getting dizzy.

Binocular Vision

Binocular vision is the eyes’ ability to create one clear image and to perceive depth between objects. Good binocular vision allows a climber to judge the distance between their current location and the holding point they need to reach.

Eye-Hand-Body Coordination

Having good eye-hand-body coordination requires the visual system to process the information it gathers via the eyes to direct the movements of the body.

To climb safely, a climber’s eyes need to quickly and efficiently send signals to their hands and feet, alerting them to the best route to follow or the sudden appearance of a rattlesnake.

With sports vision training, athletes do a series of in-office and at-home exercises that improve these and other visual skills. After practicing these tasks, their eyes, brain and body begin to work together more efficiently. Their timing improves and their movements become smoother.

Whether you are a competitive rock climber or climb just for pleasure on the weekends, it’s important to train not only your muscles, but your visual skills. To learn more about how sports vision training can help you become a better climber, contact Visual Symptoms Treatment Center today!

Our practice serves patients from Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Northbrook, and Deerfield, Illinois and surrounding communities.
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The Visual Skills Needed to Excel in Motorsports

Few sports rely more heavily on visual skills than motorsports, a group of fast-moving competitive events that involve the use of motorized vehicles, whether it be for racing or for recreational purposes. Motorsports include auto car racing, motorcycle racing, motor rallying, and motorboat racing.

Contact Visual Symptoms Treatment Center to learn how athletes who participate in motorsports can benefit from a customized sports vision training regimen designed to boost their performance.

What is Sports Vision Training?

Sports vision training is a customized program that improves the communication between your eyes, brain, and body while playing sports and other times as well. Sports vision training helps athletes process information and react faster and more accurately to what they see on the field or raceway.

Sports vision training uses a personalized series of techniques and exercises that train the brain and body to respond more accurately and efficiently to the world around them. The training focuses on improving visual skills like depth perception, hand-eye coordination, dynamic visual acuity, and peripheral awareness.

Importance of Vision Training in Motorsports

Athletes in visually demanding sports need to have remarkable visual skills. This is particularly true when it comes to motorsports, where the ability to focus, track fast-moving objects, and react quickly can mean the difference not only between winning and losing but between staying safe and incurring an injury. So even the smallest increase in processing ability, reaction time, and resilience can put an athlete ahead in the race.

Visual Skills Needed in Motorsports

Competitive drivers in all motorsports are always looking for a competitive edge, yet few are aware that certain visual skills play an integral role in motorsports:

Accommodation and Convergence: Accommodation, also known as focus flexibility, is the eyes’ ability to change focus immediately. Convergence is the ability to keep both eyes working in unison as they track people or objects, such as cars competing on a race track.

Depth Perception: this is the visual ability to perceive the world in three dimensions (3D) and assess the distance of a target or object. This visual skills allows the driver to instantly and accurately judge distance, speed, and dynamics of objects, such as the other cars, motorcycles or boats competing in the race.

Dynamic Visual Acuity: This can be defined as “vision in motion,” or the ability to see, interpret, and react immediately to a rapidly moving object, such as a motorcycle veering toward you while you are also in motion.

Eye-Hand Coordination: Our limbs and the rest of our body respond to the information our eyes send to the brain. If this information isn’t transmitted quickly or accurately enough, the body may not react rapidly enough to prevent an accident. Many drivers’ errors are due to faulty visual judgment, determined by eye-hand coordination.

Peripheral Awareness: Peripheral awareness is your ability to know what is happening at the edge of your vision. A well-developed peripheral field will help an athlete to see everything at once, and sense the flow of the race as it constantly changes.

Every athlete — whether amateur or professional — can benefit from honing their visual skills. Giving athletes the ability to enhance their vision skills is a proven way to improve performance. To learn more about how sports vision training can help you reach your goals, contact us at Visual Symptoms Treatment Center and schedule an appointment with one of our sports vision experts.

Our practice serves patients from Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Northbrook, and Deerfield, Illinois and surrounding communities.
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How Sports Vision Training Can Help You Ski Like a Pro

Research shows that more than 80% of what we learn comes via the visual system. That percentage goes up even more when you are talking about sports, because the eyes direct the movements of the body. Sports vision training can help you ski like a pro.

What is Sport Vision Training?

Sports vision training is a regimen of visual exercises aimed at improving the visual skills necessary to excel at various sports. Through a series of specific and comprehensive tests, a sports vision optometrist can determine the functioning of each of your visual skills.

Sports vision training programs develop skills like hand-eye coordination, visual reaction time, dynamic visual activity, peripheral vision, eye tracking and focusing.

Necessary Visual Skills for Skiing

Excelling at skiing requires several visual skills. When these skills are improved, they can make you a better skier:

  • Contrast sensitivity – the ability to distinguish between an object and its background. This is critical for skiing. You must be able to see every shadow in the snow, so you know when to turn and anticipate changes in the snow or mountain conditions.
  • Depth perception – the ability to quickly and accurately judge the distance and speed of objects. Good awareness of space is so important when skiing. It allows for higher speed and increased safety.
  • Reaction time – how quickly a person perceives an anticipated visual event and how quickly they can react to that stimulus. The faster you see it, the faster you react, the faster you move.
  • Peripheral awareness – the ability to see things out of the corner of your eye. Skiers need to be able to see obstacles and other skiers at the edges of their visual field. When we are stressed or our adrenaline is running high, we tend to shut down our peripheral vision. Being awareness of obstacles and other skiers can give you a competitive edge and boost safety.
  • Gross visual-motor skills – the ability to coordinate is fundamental for taking every turn exactly as planned. When your vision and motor skills are perfectly aligned you can be in complete control of your movements.
  • Focus control – training your eyes to maintain simultaneous focus and quickly shift focus from near to far. As you speed downhill, what was far away a second ago is suddenly right in front of you.

There are many visual skills that apply to sports, and they are all essential. Learning your strengths and weaknesses in each of the visual skills listed above and following the right plan can make you a better and safer skier.

Contact Visual Symptoms Treatment Center to book an evaluation of your visual skills and to learn more about sports vision training.

Our practice serves patients from Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Northbrook, and Deerfield, Illinois and surrounding communities.
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Sports Vision Training for Volleyball

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How Sports Vision Training Can Improve Your Volleyball Skills

What is Sports Vision Training?

Whether playing recreationally or on a competitive or elite level, athletes need not only keen eyesight but also strong visual skills that allow them to see things at the edge of their visual field, quickly shift their focus from near to faraway objects, and facilitate hand-eye coordination, among other tasks. Sports vision training consists of customized exercises to retrain the eyes to work more efficiently and quickly with the brain. We will will assess your visual skills and design a customized program to help you develop the specific visual skills most needed to excel at volleyball.

Even people with 20/20 vision can benefit from sports vision training to process and respond to visual information. Repetition of those exercises results in visual memory, so that the physical responses become second nature, including in volleyball.

Along with Physical Skills, Volleyball Draws Upon Vision Skills

In volleyball, players are continuously “reading” with their eyes the ever-changing positions of the ball, their teammates, and opposing players, and keeping track of stationary objects like the boundary line, end line, and net.

Players track the ball to gauge its velocity, its height and distance, and it’s spinning action to formulate a response. The visual system directs the motor system, so improved visual skills lead to improved performance on the court.

A sports vision training program typically lasts several weeks to several months. It involves close monitoring and follow-up appointments to ensure steady improvements in a patient’s visual functions. The exercises cover visual skills such as eye focusing, eye teaming, depth perception, hand-eye coordination, peripheral vision, and visualization.

We can provide sports vision training for volleyball players and other athletes at all levels with weekly in-office appointments, along with at-home exercises to complete.

Our practice serves patients from Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Northbrook, and Deerfield, Illinois and surrounding communities.

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Visual Skills Needed to Excel at Golf

To be a better golfer you need to excel in three skill areas: mental, physical, and visual. Golfers often turn to private lessons to improve their swing, with efforts typically directed toward analyzing the way they move and enhancing their confidence. Unfortunately, coaches often overlook the important role visual skills play in hitting a golf ball.

Why Are Visual Skills Important In Golf?

Golf is a highly visual sport. Your visual skills influence every element of the game — from putting to reading the greens and estimating distances.

The visual skills needed for golf include eye focusing, eye teaming, sensory-motor coordination, peripheral awareness, and contrast sensitivity, all of which will be explained below. Vision training can fine-tune all of these skills, enabling a golfer to achieve consistently reliable results on the golf course.

Whether you’re a pro or an amateur, improved visual skills can make your next trip to the golf course a more rewarding and enjoyable experience.

What Is Sports Vision Training?

Sports Vision Training, a form of vision therapy, entails individually prescribed and monitored exercises that develop specific visual skills and processing in athletes, no matter their age. These exercises retrain the brain to better interact with the eyes, which leads to improved performance on the golf course.

This training is made up of weekly in-office appointments and at-home exercises. The program typically lasts from several weeks to several months. Sports vision training involves close monitoring and follow-up appointments to ensure steady improvements in the patient’s visual functions.

If you want to improve your visual abilities and gain a competitive advantage in golf, contact Dr. Neil Margolis today.

Which Vision Skills Do I Need for Golf?

Below we describe some of the most important visual skills required to become a great golfer.

Eye Focusing (Accommodation)

This is the ability to quickly and accurately adjust the eyes’ focus from near to far. This is important in golf — particularly for putting — as you consistently shift their focus from the ball to the cup and back.

Eye Teaming

Eye teaming (or binocular vision) is the eyes’ ability to work together as a team. Just because both eyes appear aligned, it doesn’t mean they are working together. This is an important skill to master, as it allows you to accurately estimate the field and read the greens.

Depth Perception

This refers to the ability to identify the exact location and distance of an object or person.

Depth perception is crucial in helping you correctly estimate the distance between the ball and the hole, and the speed at which you need to hit the ball. So if you’re poorly estimating the distance to your target, or if you either hit the ball too short, too long or too much to the right or left, poor depth perception may be to blame.

Eye-Hand/Foot/Body Coordination

Golfers need to accurately identify and interpret visual input and successfully coordinate hand, foot and associated body movements. Once the eyes see the ball, they communicate its location to the brain, leading the arms and hands to get into the right position to swing the club. Any faulty communication between the brain and eyes can adversely affect your game.

Focusing

Golfers need to be able to accurately focus on a target, quickly and accurately. The ability to properly focus on the ball and the target is critical for making the right contact between the clubhead and the ball, whether hitting the sweet spot or stroking a smoother putt. Moreover, the ability to stay focused helps maintain peak performance levels, even during adverse weather conditions.

Peripheral Awareness

This is the part of your vision that lies beyond your direct line of sight — what you see from the edge of your visual field. This is important in golf, as you need to be aware of the ball while simultaneously knowing where you want to direct the ball with your club. This skill aids with reading the greens and assessing the contours of each hole, while also helping you accurately align for your full swing.

Contrast Sensitivity

Contrast sensitivity is the visual ability to accurately perceive an object against a background. Golfers with poor contrast sensitivity find it difficult to read the greens and properly assess the direction of the grain, and whether the green is slow, fast, wet, or dry.

Visualization

Visual imagery techniques are frequently used to help develop consistently top performance. If you can clearly and frequently imagine yourself performing a proper swing and visualize the path you want the ball to take, you will end up performing the swing as seen in your mind’s eye. Furthermore, strong visualization skills develop your concentration and focusing skills.

If you are a golfer interested in improving your game, contact Visual Symptoms Treatment Center for a sports vision assessment. Based on its findings, Dr. Neil Margolis will prescribe a customized vision training program to help you optimize, correct, and enhance your visual skills so you can become the golfer you know you can be!

Our practice serves patients from Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Northbrook, and Deerfield, Illinois and surrounding communities.
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