The Bull's Eye Target, a vision training drill, improves eye movement skills and builds strength, flexibility and stamina in the eyes' focusing system (known as "accommodation"). Accommodation is how quickly and accurately your eyes switch focus to a different distance; and how you maintain accurate focus while tracking a ball, puck or anything else moving toward or away from you. By training this sports performance skill, you'll improve reaction time and hand-eye coordination. Accommodation can also improve classroom activities such as reading and copying off the board, making you a stronger student-athlete.
To perform this vision training drill, use a clear bull's eye target. You can make the target yourself by taking a clear piece of plastic about the size of a playing card and drawing three to four concentric rings on it , keeping the bull's eye center clear. (See example below.)
Bull's Eye Target
Find something to look at 15 feet or more in the distance. It could be a number on a calendar, a clock on the wall or some object outside. Cover your left eye with your left hand (or use an eye patch).
Hold the bull's eye target with your right hand in front of your right eye about an arm's length away. Look at the distant target through the center of the bull's eye target and focus on it.
Then switch your eye focus and make the circles on the bull's eye target clear; switch your focus back to the distant object. Continue to switch your eye focus back and forth from the distant object to the target for about 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat three to four times for both the right and left eyes. Once you build up to it, you can increase the time to one minute with a 30-second rest.
Initially, one eye may shift focus slightly better than the other, but if there's a big difference between the eyes, visit a doctor and get checked out.
Variations: You can look at different targets as you shift focus back and forth. For example, look at the number 10 on the calendar or clock, then the bull's eye target, then the number 11 on the calendar or clock, then the bull's eye target, then the number 12, etc.
After mastering it, you can vary this exercise by moving the bull's eye target closer to your eye. Try it at 16 inches, 12 inches, 10 inches or closer if you can.
Zoom in on this sports vision training drill and get focused on your best performance!
Dr. Larry Lampert is a board-certified optometric physician and a developmental/behavioral optometrist in Boca Raton, Fla. He is one of only 450 individuals in the world who have completed a fellowship in developmental vision. Dr. Lampert specializes in sports vision training and developmental vision. As a leader in the field, he has worked with pro athletes from the PGA, LPGA, MLB, NFL and ATP. He has been featured on The Golf Channel, NBC Sports and in numerous sports publications. Dr. Lampert is the author of The Pro's Edge: Vision Training for Golf.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock