Sports place a high demand on your visual system. Peak performance requires clarity of vision, efficient eye teaming and focusing skills, and superior visual processing abilities. While clear vision is beneficial in all sports, the specific demands a particular sport places on your visual system during competition is rather unique to that sport. For example, some sports require you to contact a moving object with your hand, foot, or piece of equipment while others require that you strike a stationary object. The Sport-Specific Athlete Vision Profile presented below depicts the relative demands placed on your visual system when playing golf.
Below is a description of the 12 aspects of the Sport-Specific Athlete Vision Profile:
- Visual Attention: Visual attention can either be central, peripheral, or divided. For golf, the visual demand is central. Nearly 100% of a golfer's attention is dedicated to the ball once a swing is started.
- Duration: The visual demands of a sport can either be short duration or sustained. A swing in golf is a short duration of very high visual demand, however playing 18 holes places a sustained demand on the visual system. An athlete with poor visual endurance may perform better in the earlier parts of competition as compared to the final holes.
- Directional Localization: This skill is used when determining the direction and speed of a moving object. During golf you are hitting a stationary object, meanind the directional localization demands are quite low.
- Dynamic-Reactive: A sport that requires contains a dynamic-reactive component requires an athlete to quickly respond to a moving object. When hitting a stationary golf ball, the dynamic-reactive demands are very low.
- Athlete Movement: An athlete can either be in motion or relatively stable during competition. Although a golfer moves through their swing, they are relatively stationary leading up to the striking of the ball. For this reason, the visual demands of golf considers the athlete to be stationary.
- Target Demand: The target during competition can either be static (stationary) or dynamic (in motion). Stationary targets present vision information in a constant manner and require a high level of stability within the visual system
- Target Size: The target (golf ball) is small, especially considering the small area on a club that will produce a successful hit. This requires very fine tuned interpretation of visual information.
- Visual Distance: This is the distance of the target which is providing the visual demand during competition. For golf the primary visual distance is at the end of the club, however a player must also used distance judgements when judging a shot. When putting, the visual distance is the distance between the ball and the hole as a successful putt requires judgement of distance and changes in the terrain.
- Gaze Angle: This refers to the direction you must look during a given activity. Depending on the stance of the player, the ball is generally viewed in primary gaze (straight ahead) to slightly to one side (during the swing). The demand in the vertical direction is shifted into inferior gaze as the ball strikes the club below eye level.
- 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. During the act of hitting a golf ball the visual boundaries are restricted to a narrow area in front of the player.
- Contrast / Figure-Ground: Contrast sensitivity, or the ability to distinguish between different shades of the same color is very important during competition. Figure-ground, or the ability to identify an object of importance from background clutter, is also important. These demands are very high during golf, whether it is seeing the ball after it is hit or reading the green before a putt.