Rob

2 – Vision Training Programs

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Since the early 1980’s, there have been several vision training programs developed which propose to improve the vision of athletes resulting in an associated improvement in their sports performance. Do these training programs actually work? Or could practice time be put to better use? In this episode, I review the research that has evaluated the effectiveness of these programs.
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Key points:
• The first commercial vision training programs in sport appeared in the early 80’s and were made up of tests taken from clinical optometry e.g., “Sport Vision” and “Eyerobics”
• What is being assumed here is that an exercise designed to get people with subnormal vision up to the normal level can also be used to get a person from a normal level to a super-normal level.
• Dynavision is an apparatus designed to train eye-hand coordination and peripheral reaction time. It is a 5 foot x 4 foot board on which are mounted 64 red buttons that can be illuminated and turned off by touch
• One of the most recent entries into the vision training programme market is stroboscopic training in the form of the Nike Vapor strobe glasses. In stroboscopic training the athlete tries to perform actions while wearing glasses that open and close so that there are short periods where they can’t see
• To support the claims made by these training programs we actually need to demonstrate 3 different things:
o First, we need to show that the visual abilities that are being trained (whether its acuity or peripheral vision) improve after training in people with already normal vision or above normal vision.
o Second, we need to show that sports performance is improved in some way after the training is done.
o Third, and most importantly, we need to demonstrate transfer of training. In other words, we need to show that the reason people got better at sports by the end of the vision training program was because their vision got better (and not due to some other confounding reason). This will require one or more control conditions.
• In a study published in 2012 by Clark and colleagues the University of Cincinnati baseball team completed vision training during the offseason between the 2010 and 2011 seasons. The training involved using the dynavision device, strobe training and some aspects of the Sports Vision program. The team improved their batting average, slugging percentage, and on base percentage, however, because there was no control group a placebo effect cannot be ruled out
• The best study on this topic was conducted by Bruce Abernethy and Joanne Wood in 2002. 40 novice tennis players were assigned to one of 4 groups: the Sport Vision training program, Eyerobics training group or one of two control groups: a reading control (that did physical practice and read a tennis instruction manual and a control group that just did physical practice. Some of the visual capabilities improved but there was no difference between the groups. Most importantly, there was no difference in the tennis performance for the different groups.
• In 2014, Deveau and colleagues used a vision training programmed based on research in perceptual learning. The subjects in this training study (19 players on the Univ Calif Riverside baseball team) did show improvements in both visual ability (on average the trained players improved from 20/13 to 20/10) and batting performance (strike outs decreased from 22 to 17%) but again since there was no control group a placebo effect can again not be ruled out.
• In a series of studies, Stephen Mitroff and colleagues at Duke University have shown that stroboscopic training can improve a variety of perceptual skills including motion perception. And they also showed some very preliminary evidence (with no control group) that it results in improved ice hockey performance.
• In sum, while vision training program might be good for addressing visual deficiencies and make your vision a bit better, if you have normal vision already, there is no convincing, published evidence yet that this will make you a better athlete.
• We need more well-designed transfer of training studies that meet the 3 criteria described above!

Articles:

More information:
My Research Gate Page (pdfs of my articles)
My ASU Web page
Podcast Facebook page (videos, pics, etc)
Twitter: @Shakeywaits
Email: robgray@asu.edu

Credits:
Flamin’ Groovies – Shake Some Action
via freemusicarchive.org

1 – Vision in Sports

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Sports talk is littered with phrases related to our eyes. We talk of great court vision, a good eye at the plate and seeing the ball well. But just how critical is vision to an athlete?Do professional athletes see better than we do? Can you play sports effectively if you have poorer than 20/20 vision? In this episode I dive into the topic of research in vision in sports.
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Key points:
• Visual perception is comprised of several different functions (e.g., acuity, motion perception, color vision and depth perception) that operate largely independently and in parallel. So it is possible for a person to have good depth perception but be color blind for example.
• First study on vision in sports in 1921 when Hugh Fullerton ran tests on Babe Ruth.
• Ruth’s reaction time was 12% faster than an average person and when words were flashed briefly he could read 6 letters correctly where the average performance is 4.5 letters
• In 2006, this study was replicated on Albert Pujhols, then one of the best hitters in baseball, by researchers at Washington University and found similar findings i.e., slightly above average performance
• The aspect of vision that has been measured most often in this area is static visual acuity. Do elite athletes have better than 20/20 vision. In some cases, yes. But not always…for example, 15% of NFL players,20% of NBA players & 13% of Olympic athletes were found to have worse visual acuity than the general population.
• A more promising visual characteristic that has been linked to sport is dynamic visual acuity..the ability to see final details for an object that is moving (i.e., the orientation of laces on a pitched ball).
• Studies which have shown that DVA is higher in experienced athletes in sports including table tennis, water polo, baseball and motorsports.
• Sanderson & Whiting (1978) showed that the effect of target speed on DVA was related to catching ability
• Research on peripheral vision has not shown consistent differences between athletes of different skill levels. For example, Berg and Killian (1995), softball players had a wider field of view than non baseball players but there was no relationship between batting average and size of FOV. A similar lack of relationship was found in a recent 2015 study in the Journal of Sports Sciences by Poltavski & Beiberdorf where there was no relationship between a peripheral vision test and goals scored in ice hockey.
• There has been no reliable relationship between eye dominance and sporting ability found in research
• Research blurring lenses has shown that you need to make people almost legally blind before you see any effect on sports performance. For example, in a study on cricket batting by David Mann and colleagues in 2007 it was found that visual acuity needed to be reduced to 20/200 before any affects on batting were found.
•So, by in large, research has not supported the idea that great athletes “see better”

Articles:

More information:
My Research Gate Page (pdfs of my articles)
My ASU Web page
Podcast Facebook page (videos, pics, etc)
Twitter: @Shakeywaits
Email: robgray@asu.edu

Credits:
The Flamin’ Groovies – Shake Some Action

Preview

A preview of the new Perception & Action Podcast. An exploration of how psychological research can be applied to improving performance, accelerating skill acquisition and designing new technologies in sports, driving and aviation. Hosted by Rob Gray, professor of Human Systems Engineering at Arizona State University, the podcast will review basic concepts and discuss the latest research in these areas.
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Credits:
The Flamin’ Groovies – Shake Some Action