As an athlete, you’ve probably heard about ways to improve your reaction time and eye-hand coordination and wondered if they are effective. To find out whether vision training really works, the Air Force recently performed a “Battlevision” experiment with 33 airmen.
At the beginning and end of the study, the airmen took vision and reaction tests. Throughout the six weeks in between, they participated in eighteen intense half-hour vision-training sessions, in which they picked out letters from a spinning disc, shifted focus to various distance markers, repeated numbers quickly flashing on a screen and touched flashing lights on a board. (Learn how you can start doing vision exercises used by Air Force Academy athletic teams.)
According to Major Janelle Robertson, a doctor and statistician in the 96th Medical Group who compiled and analyzed the data, the results were dramatic. "The Airmen who were trained on Battlevision improved their scores by 65 percent, while the scores of their non-trained counterparts dropped by 69 percent," said Robertson. "There is such a large difference in the performance of these groups that they could not have arisen statistically by chance."
Dr. Al Wile, the sports vision director in the Air Force Academy Athletic Department who led the test, was not surprised by the results. “I see what vision training does for our athletes every single day in our lab, and there was no doubt in my mind that there would be a significant improvement in post-test results in the airmen who took the training serious [three sessions per week],” Wile said. “Remember, we are talking about training six outer ocular and two inner ocular muscles of the eyes; and just like any other muscle in the body, a training effect takes place when the muscles are tasked three times a week over a period of at least six weeks.”
Ready to start vision training on your own? Head over to STACK’s Vision Training page for drills and tips.