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Sports Vision

Sportsmen and women are often unaware of just how much their performance depends upon sight. Sports performers have to be able to see distant objects clearly, but they also have to separate and differentiate objects from ever-changing backgrounds and judge distances and speeds. Good vision is essential in all sports and vital in many. Consequently, an awareness of this fact and how we can improve and protect sports vision can help enhance performance.

Visual Sensitivity

Visual sensitivity is not just about being able to see as far as possible. At a distance, the eyes need to judge subtle differences in contrast between an object and its background, in all light conditions. Fine binocular sensitivity allows the distance of objects to be judged accurately and quickly. Peripheral awareness (ability to see objects and movement outside of the direct line of vision) is used to anticipate an opponent's intentions and to locate objects approaching from the side or above. The speed and endurance of the eyes' focusing system are essential. Good central and peripheral vision and eye body coordination are essential in avoiding injury. Problems with eye dominance can lead to eye strain and loss of accuracy, which will create tension which will lead to loss of control.

Visual Reaction Time

The visual system cannot make instant decisions. The fastest Olympic reaction times are around 0.2 seconds, and if the time for moving the hands or feet into position is added, it is nearly 0.4 seconds. The athlete who anticipates best has the advantage, which depends on experience and optimising vision.

Association of Sportvision Practitioners

The Association of Sportvision Practitioners (ASP) was established in promoting and advance all aspects of vision relating to sporting activities. It is a multi-disciplinary body with a membership drawn from sporting organizations and participants, and commerce, eye care and sports vision specialists in the UK. The ASP has developed three main areas of interest in sports vision.

  • The first is that of the routine correction of optical dysfunction and the promotion of a more organised approach to dealing with the needs of athletes at all levels, throughout the general day-to-day work of the profession
  • The second is that of eye protection and reflects the real concern at the number of accidents which cause damage to the eye or visual system, many of which can be prevented
  • The third is to look into ways and means to enhance visual function to improve sporting performance.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (1999) Sports Vision [WWW] Available from: [Accessed