Can Vision Training Improve Sports Performance?

by Jan 18, 2023

At all levels of sports, athletes try to find ways to maximize their performance and excel in their respective areas. A growing area of athletic training is sports vision training. This type of training focuses on providing the best possible vision and then training techniques and skills to improve the visual perception of the athlete. Aspects of a comprehensive sports vision program include fitting for glasses or contacts, general vision therapy exercises, and then sport-specific therapy exercises.

Importance of Vision in Sports

Nearly every sport is heavily dependent on the athlete to have precise and accurate visual perception.

For some sports, the ability to track a moving target is paramount for success – things like following a baseball that has been pitched or a tennis ball that was served.

For other sports, depth perception and visual-spatial relationships are key aspects of vision. These include sports like golf, curling, and skiing. Each of these sports relies on the athletes’ ability to recognize where they are in relation to the surrounding environment.

However, in all sports, having a clear and comfortable vision is a minimum requirement for achieving personal success. Sports are by nature designed to push the limits of what is possible and to excel in any sport, having a clear vision is a basic need.

Ways to Ensure Clear Vision for Sports

An athlete of any form, in any sport, at any level, should have an eye examination every year and discuss their sport with the eye doctor.

At this yearly exam, the doctor will help determine whether any vision correction is needed for daily life or for wear only during the sport.

Common options include glasses and contact lenses. For high-action sports, the preferred option is usually contact lenses.

Having an eye doctor help to fit these contacts and select the best fit for your particular prescription can provide the best possible vision.

Vision Training Beyond Clear Vision

While obtaining clear vision from glasses or contact lenses is the first step to achieving the highest possible success in sports, the visual system goes way beyond just seeing clearly.

Visual-spatial skills, visual processing skills, and oculomotor skills are all developed and refined by vision training or sports vision therapy.

Visual-Spatial Skills for Sports

Visual-spatial skills include depth perception or 3D vision, judging distances, and making assumptions based on movement.

These skills are used in most sports every time the athlete plays. Between a basketball player shooting a free throw and needing to see the depth of the basket and a soccer player needs to judge what angle to take when playing defense, many of the basic tenets of sports rely on these visual-spatial skills.

To train these skills, techniques are used to help refine eye teaming and improve the awareness of the space around the eyes.

Visual Processing Skills for Sports

Visual processing is the term for all higher-order understanding beyond simply seeing an object or person.

The understanding of any meaning that the vision has stemmed from visual processing.

This has an important role in reflexes and reaction time. For sports that move at a high pace, it can be the difference between winning or losing a particular play.

To improve visual processing, exercises that force a quick recognition and determination of meaning are used.


Our eye doctors at Wilmington Family Eye Care in Wilmington, DE excel in the prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye diseases. Call our optometrists at 302-299-1286 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to learn more about vision training. Our eye doctors, Drs. Daniel Baruffi, Amy Quan, Patricia Jones, and Joseph Goldberg provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Wilmington, Delaware and its surrounding areas.

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