After almost every play, we hear a football commentator say things like RG-III "can see the entire field," or Peyton Manning "can see things others can't" or Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger improvise as well as any quarterback who has ever played the game. What do all of these guys have in common? Great vision.
There is a major emphasis on strength and conditioning in sports, but vision training is becoming quite "vogue"—not just in football, but also in baseball, NASCAR and other sports. Last spring, Sports Illustrated ran an article that credits the use of Dynavision vision training technologies for the improved batting average of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. (See What Is Sports Vision Training?)
Phil Jones, CEO and President of Dynavision, created the D2 vision training machine in his garage over two decades ago. Now, the company partners with the Pittsburgh Steelers, IMG and many other organizations that use the device to improve their players' vision and their game.
"Sports vision training has really evolved since I was playing in the CFL back in the 80's," Jones says. "The results are astounding. Some of the most well known athletes in the world have trained on the D2."
Vision training can be easily incorporated into an athlete's workouts. You really can't overdo it, but given the time constraints on today's athletes, it should at least be a part of their physical workout protocols. The U.S. Air Force Academy implements a comprehensive program, taking their athletes away from the gym into a more controlled environment where they spend up to an hour a day on vision training.
NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne uses the D2 trainer during and after his workouts, fine tuning hand-eye precision and addressing reaction training in four one-minute runs.
"We were doing this in 1986, when I was playing football," Jones recalls, "As athletes, we couldn't get enough of the reaction time drills. There is transferablity from this kind of training to on-field performance."
Vision training can do a lot of great things for an athlete. According to the Dynavision website, it can improve:
- Speed and span of recognition for linebackers to identify the run/pass
- Concentration under stress for a running back's focus
- Explosive visual reaction for linemen on both sides of the ball
- Eye-hand coordination for defensive back's interceptions and receiver receptions
- Anticipation timing for every position on the field
- Speed and span of recognition for better passing accuracy
- Concentration under stress for increased shooting percentage
- Explosive visual reaction for increased offensive and defensive rebounding
- Peripheral vision awareness to prevent contact injuries
- Eye-hand coordination for better ball control
- Anticipation timing for more defensive turnovers
Increased visual awareness and faster reaction time have more far-reaching effects than just improving on-field performance. How about safety? A recent study shows that athletes with quicker visual reaction times have a lower incidence of lower extremity injuries.