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An introduction to vision & sports performance

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Presentation on theme: "An introduction to vision & sports performance"— Presentation transcript:

1 An introduction to vision & sports performance
Pierre Elmurr BAppSc (Orthoptics) DOBA MAppSc (ExerSportsSc) Sports Vision Scientist NSW Institute of Sport, Australia

2 2

3 VISION TRAINING "Vision training for sport is the application of specific exercises conducted over a period of time that leads to neural restructuring of cortex and brainstem pathways allowing a person to maximise efficiency while performing visual perceptual tasks leading to enhanced visual motor performance” Elmurr 2010 Boston sports vision meeting 3

4 Relationship of vision & skilled movement (Welford 1960 model)
Perceptual mechanism divided into the “HARDWARE” & “SOFTWARE” Decision mechanism Effector mechanism

5 Perceptual Mechanism (Starkes & Deakin 1984)
“HARDWARE” - the reception of visual information; affected by the ocular characteristics of the athletes visual system “SOFTWARE” - Perception of visual information; influenced by strategies an athlete develops & includes information processing, use of advanced cues, ball flight cues, gaze behavior and the use of anticipatory skills

6 “Hardware examination”
Identifies uncorrected refractive errors, contrast sensitivity and Binocular anomalies that could influence “software” decision making ? Hardware has limiting factors

7 Ciuffreda model – vision & sport
5 major categories: Resolving detail Estimating depth Tracking moving objects Visual motor integration Visual information processing

8 Vision & sport classification
4 major categories: Visual skills Brain skills Sports IQ skills Sports psychology skills

Visual acuity Eye dominance Contrast Sensitivity Depth Perception OCULAR MOTOR SKILLS Accommodation Binocular vision Dynamic VA Saccades Pursuits stereopsis Vergence VISUAL PERCEPTUAL Eye hand coordination Eye foot coordination Peripheral vision Visualisation Visual memory Visual perception Visual processing

10 BRAIN SKILLS Anticipation Attention Decision making Neuroplasticity
Pattern recognition Peripheral awareness proprioception

11 SPORT IQ SKILL Decision training Gaze control Skill acquisition
Visual cues Visual search The zone Talent identification

ULTIMATE MENTAL ATHLETE Consistency Flow Killer instinct Mental toughness zone Emotional toughness Mind strength PSYCHOLOGICAL STRATEGIES Arousal Breathing concentration Motivation confidence Humor Goal setting Meditation Visualization relaxation Positive thinking Rituals Perseverance Faith Self talk

PSYCHOLOGICAL OBSTACLES Adversity Burn-out Choking Fatigue Aggression Pressure Fear Anxiety Intimidation Anger Pain Self Doubt Slumps Addication Stress

14 Generalised vs Specific vision training programs
Do generalised visual training programs for sport really work? An experimental investigation Abernethy & Woods Journal of Sports Science 2000 Results found no evidence that visual training programs led to improvements in either vision or motor performance above & beyond simple test familiarity

15 Specific sports vision training research
The effects of a visual skills training program on female volleyball athletes, Kluka et al 1996 “Hardware” component, statistically significant improvement in Contrast Sensitivity Function “Software”, statistically significant improvement in speed of recognition Advantageous to create visual skills training programs which closely resemble the volleyball specific environment

Classical vision training “Software” training Visual awareness training Visual-motor training

Based on deficiencies detected during the “hardware” testing of the visual system Orthoptic therapies are proven methods based on scientific principles. Success rates vary from 61.9% (Birnbaum et al 1999), to 91% (Grisham 1988) to 100%(Wicks 1994)

A critical evaluation of the evidence supporting the practice of behavioural vision therapy. Barrett, Ophthal. Physiol. Opt. 2009 “A large majority of behavioural management approaches are not evidence based and thus cannot be advocated”

19 Software Perceptual factors including visual search/gaze behavior, decision making, anticipation, pattern recognition and attention has been shown to discriminate between experts & novices (Abernethy, 1988, Abernethy et al., 1994; Helsen & Starkes, 1999, McPherson & French, 1999; Starkes, 1987; Williams, 2000; Williams et al., 1999)

20 “software” eye movements
Gaze control is defined as the process of directing gaze to objects within a scene in real time. A fixation occurs when the gaze is held on an object or location within 3 degrees of the visual angle for 100 milliseconds or longer 20

21 What do athletes see? How gaze is controlled in sport falls into 2 methods of research: Visual search: the eye movements of athletes are recorded as they view videotapes, photographs, computer simulations, or other simulated content from their sport Vision-in-action: Uses the gaze of the participant recorded while they perform in real world sport settings 21

22 Gaze Control In gaze studies in sport, all gaze (fixations, pursuit tracking, saccades, blinks) found in a task to a location, one gaze has emerged called the “quiet eye” as a significant contributing factor to higher levels of sports performance (Vickers, 1996a). The Quiet eye is defined as a period of time when the fixation is stable on spatial information critical to effective and consistent motor performance.

23 Focal vision & Quiet eye
4 characteristics of quiet eye A directing of attention to a critical location in the performance environment An onset that occurs prior to the intended movement A duration that is longer for elite performers than for lesser skill level A high level of stability



26 Visual awareness training
29 elite female hockey players were divided into 3 groups Group 1 training normally for 4 weeks Group 2 did visual skills training Group 3 received visual awareness coaching on top of visual skills and normal training 22 specific field hockey skills were tested before and after the 4 weeks of training Group 1, the control group improved in only 3 of the 22 tests Group 2 improved on 9 of the tests Group 3 improved on 16 of the 22 skills tested. Visual awareness program included on field sports specific activities such as altering the position of the head in relation to the dominant eye and the ball

27 Visual-motor training
Combining hardware & software processing produces a motor response Eye-hand coordination Eye-foot coordination Coincidence anticipation Peripheral awareness reaction time

28 Motor skill Defined as skills in which physical movement is required to accomplish a goal of a task. Classified into 3 groups 1. Precision of the movement: Gross (walking, jumping) vs fine motor skill (writing, drawing) 2. Defining beginning & end point of a skill : Discrete (hitting a button on a keyboard vs continuous motor skill (swimming, running) 3. Stability of the environment : Closed (bowling) vs open motor skill (tennis rally)

29 Motor performance measures
Response output: Measures time, error and magnitude of a response Response production: Measures include EMG, EEG measures describing limbs, joints, muscles & brain activity during movement The most common measure of initiation of movement is reaction time Response Time is the total time interval involving both Reaction time & movement time

30 Motor performance measures
3 common types of RT: Simple RT: Only one signal and one response required (visual stimuli ms, auditory ms) Go/No- RT: Respond to one stimuli and not respond to another stimuli Choice RT: A distinct response for each possible stimuli

31 Learning Perceptual learning – ability to improve on a specific sensory/perceptual task with practice Motor learning – process that improves motor performance through practice Other forms of learning – visualization, anticipation, visual attention, range of cognitive strategies

32 Motor learning Motor learning – the changes associated with practice or experience leading to improvements in motor performance (observable production of a motor skill) SVT is the motor learning tool and improvements in motor performance is a decrease in reaction time on the SVT board and on field improvements in hand speed Level of motor performance is susceptible to fluctuations in temporary factors such as motivation, arousal, fatigue

33 Motor learning Improved motor performance due to increasing synaptic efficiency in the neural-network Motor learning involves 3 stages: Determining by trial & error processing the optimal motor program to accomplish a particular task Repeated practicing of the optimal motor program for rapid & precise execution Attaining a level of automaticity, the movement becomes “pre programmed” allowing attention to be allocated to other related tasks. “consistent stimulus response mapping”

34 SVT TM independent research, 2001
Statistical established internal validity and test-retest reliability Training eye hand coordination 3 times a week (½ hr sessions ) for 5 weeks on the SVT TM does improve eye hand coordination as measured on the SVT TM The skills learnt from training on the SVT TM are transferable to a control device

35 VISION TRAINING Higher the skill level of the athlete the more specific the training Higher the skill level requires quantitative analysis and latest technology to measure performance changes Effective training minimum 2 or 3 times a week for 5 weeks (1/2 sessions). Skills maintained for up to 10 weeks after cessation of training

36 SUMMARY/TIPS Conduct “hardware” assessment and relate results to on field performance Treat “hardware” deficiencies ?? Warm up exercises/visual perceptual computer generated vision training programs Design specific visual motor drills (on field vs off field) Work closely with sports scientist/coaches to assess/train “software” parameters related to a specific sport


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