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Keep your eye on the ball.” This advice is given repeatedly by both coaches and parents in several sports.

The fact is, vision plays a central roll in every sport. Whether tracking a ball, spotting a landing, or reading the contours of the green, athletes are required to use several aspects of the visual system at a very high level. There is much more to vision than just seeing clearly. Your vision is composed of many interrelated visual skills that can affect how well you play your sport. Some of the visual skills involved with athletic performance include:

  • Accommodation (eye focusing skills): Staying focused during competition is very important for achieving peak performance. The same is true for your eye focusing system as well. Reduced strength, flexibility, or accuracy of the accommodative (eye focusing) system will negatively affect performance.

  • Depth Perception (3D vision): Depth perception is a key component to judging distances and speed. Speed is a measure of how quickly an object changes distances, so an athlete with fine-tuned depth perception will be able to make faster and more accurate judgments of speed; whether it is the speed of the ball or that of an approaching defender.

  • Fusion: Fusion is the ability to use both eyes together. Fusion deficits will result in an inefficient binocular visual system. This in turn will lead to fatigue and inconsistent performance.

  • Ocular Motility (eye movements): Eye movements are an extremely important skill during athletic competition. It is much faster and more efficient to move your eyes than your entire head. For this reason, eye movements need to be both fast and accurate. These skills are used when tracking a ball or reading the defense.

  • Peripheral Awareness (side vision): Most sports require the athlete to pay attention to more than one thing at a time. A basketball player will use their central vision to focus on the basket while shooting, but use their peripheral vision to attend to the approaching defender attempting to block the shot. The ability to selectively split your visual attention is important when playing dynamic sports.

  • Vergence (Eye teaming): A strong vergence system is required to make fast and accurate eye movements. If the eyes cannot change position in a coordinated manner the end result will be inaccuracy or even double vision.

  • Visual Acuity (Clarity): Many people can brag about having 20/20 vision, but the average professional athlete actually has better than 20/20 vision. For this reason, a sports vision doctor will often prescribe a competition-specific pair of glasses or contact lenses to optimize clarity of vision during games.


All of these visual skills, as well as visual perceptual skills, can be assessed by a sports vision optometrist during an Athlete Vision Assessment. Because all sports have different visual demands, a sports vision optometrist can assess your unique visual system as it relates to the demands of your sport. After assessing your visual system, our doctor will then be able to recommend proper eye wear, contact lenses, or a sports vision training program to help you maximize your visual performance during competition.


Our team of trained sports vision specialists provide Athlete Vision Assessments and customized sports vision training programs designed to enhance the visual skills of athletes regardless of ability level.

Video: Sports and Visual Skills
Sports and Visual Skills  5/16/2009 Download
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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.

Read what our patients have to say.

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