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Visual Demands of Hockey

Improve you game at Advanced Vision Therapy Center Boise Idaho

Hockey is a fast paced, dynamic sport that requires a myriad of skill sets. Players aspiring to move up to the next level train year-round, both on and off the ice. Highly competitive players, and those on the brink of moving up, are using sports visual training to give them an edge against the competition.


Find out how you compare to the pros at Advanced Vision Therapy Center Boise Idaho

Hockey requires specific visual skills. At Advanced Vision Therapy Center, sport specific vision assessments are used to compare a hockey player's visual skills against the vision skills of top tier hockey players. Sport specific vision assessments are used to identify areas of strength as well as areas of weakness. Sports vision training is used to improve visual skills that are identified as areas of weakness – barriers that prevent the player from reaching peak performance. Here is a list of some of the vision skills required for hockey:


  • Boundaries: The visual boundaries of a sport refers to the visual area that an athlete must attend to while competing. In many cases the visual boundaries coincide with the boundaries of the playing surface.

  • Contrast / Figure-Ground: Contrast sensitivity, or the ability to distinguish between different shades of the same color is very important during competition.

  • Depth Perception: The ability to see in three dimension and judge distance of an object.

  • Directional Localization: This skill is used when determining the direction and speed of a moving object. Hockey presents an extremely high demand on directional localization as the puck moves rapidly during the game.

  • Duration: The visual demands of a sport can either be short duration or sustained.  Hockey provides a short duration of very high visual demand during a shift on the ice, however playing 3 periods places a sustained demand on the visual system.  An athlete with poor visual endurance may perform better in the earlier periods of games as compared to the later periods.

  • Dynamic Visual Acuity: The ability to clearly track, or follow, moving objects and discern fine details of the moving object.

  • Figure-ground: The ability to identify an object of importance from background clutter, such as quickly locating the puck during play.

  • Focus / Accommodation: The ability to quickly change focus between objects at different distances.

  • Gaze Angle / Fixation: This refers to the direction you must look during a given activity – maintaining visual gaze on a single location.

  • Peripheral Vision: Also referred to as side vision. This is what you see off to the side when looking straight ahead.

  • Visual Acuity: Clarity or sharpness of vision. Visual acuity is a measurement of vision against the established standard. IE: If you have 20/20 vision, you are considered to have “normal” vision - with the ability to see what has been established as standard at a distance of 20 feet. If you have 20/100 vision you must be at a viewing distance of 20 feet from an object to see what a person with normal vision can see at a distance of 100 feet.


Sports vision assessments and sports vision training are used by players at all levels, including those who already have superior skills, but want to improve their visual skills that will transfer to even higher levels of play on the ice. Hockey is a fast-paced, dynamic sport - sports vision training can “slow the game down” and give players a competitive edge. A few areas targeted for hockey players during a sports vision assessment are:


  • Athlete Movement: An athlete can either be in motion or relatively stable during competition. Hockey players are almost constantly in motion, requiring a very fine tuned visual system.

  • Dynamic-Reactive: A sport that contains a dynamic-reactive component requires an athlete to quickly respond to a moving object.  Hockey requires a very quick reaction by every player to react to the moving puck.

  • Target Demand: The target during competition can either be static (stationary) or dynamic (in motion). Dynamic targets present vision information in a constantly changing manner, requiring the athlete to process changes in visual information in a fluid manner.

  • Target Size: The target (hockey puck) is small, especially considering the small area on a stick that will produce a successful hit.  This requires very fine tuned interpretation of visual information.

  • Visual Attention: Visual attention can either be central, peripheral, or divided. For hockey, the visual demand is split with peripheral being an important aspect of hitting the puck with the stick.

  • Visual Distance: This is the distance of the target which is providing the visual demand during competition. This distance is highly variable during hockey but most importantly at the length of a hockey stick.


When it comes to athletic performance in team sports, vision is the undisputed king among the senses. Sport specific vision training can elevate the level play of any hockey player. Athletes commonly work with trainers to improve strength and endurance; with coaches to gain a better understanding of the game, and improve strategies to outperform the competition; and sports vision experts to train visual and attentional abilities within their specific sport. Vision abilities can be trained, and visual-skills training is recommended for any athlete seeking to take their level of play to the next level.


For an in-depth, sport specific vision assessment with the experts at Advanced Vision Therapy Center, call 208.377.1310 to schedule an appointment.


Check out our other blogs in this series: Baseball's Visual DemandsSoccer's Visual DemandsTennis' Visual DemandsGolf's Visual Demands


Play your best game at Advanced Vision Therapy Center Boise idhao

Posted by Advanced Vision Therapy Center at 11/29/2016 11:43:00 PM
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Improvement Starts Here

With over 25 years of proven success, you can trust Advanced Vision Therapy Center to provide the care you need.

Our Clinical Director is Idaho's only residency trained optometrist in vision therapy and neuro-optometry and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.  His residency at University of California, Berkeley means he has the expertise and experience to treat even the most complex cases.

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7960 W. Rifleman Street, #155
Boise , Idaho , 83704 USA
Phone:  208-377-1310
Fax:  208-321-1952