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Adding Remote Training

to Your Sports Vision Practice

July 22, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many of us to rethink our business models and develop different ways to engage and stay in touch with our patients and athletes. At Performance 20/20, it pushed us to offer a different mode of training that had been on our “to-do” list but had not been implemented before the pandemic.

Before COVID, one of the biggest questions we faced when working with athletes in our training center was “how can I train at home/on the road?” One aspect of working with athletes we had not expected or planned on was how little time they have during the season, or even in the off-season. Many of our athletes were traveling significant distances to work with us, while many went to boarding school or spent the summer away. We also had several athletes who only came home periodically and spent most of the year at college or playing around the country or world.

While we always felt that our in-person training was the best and most beneficial option, we looked at ways to provide these athletes with a way to continue to train with us when they were away. Once the pandemic shut our training facility down and in-person sessions weren’t possible, we quickly had to pivot and look at ways to keep our athletes training. We have continued to provide remote training even now for the flexibility and ease of scheduling as well as the ability to work with athletes anywhere.

One way to provide at-home training is to send athletes a kit of equipment that they can use at home and provide written descriptions, videos, or schedule one-on-one training time live through Zoom or another system. Many colleagues have implemented these kits successfully, even adding them on as homework so an athlete can train at home in addition to in the office or facility.

Sports vision kits can include Brock Strings, vectograms, tranaglyphs, Marsden Balls, Hart Chart sets, flippers, and anything else you want to add. Some practices will also include a set of strobe glasses as loaners or as a purchase option for an additional revenue stream. Many sports vision practices that use this type of remote training will have a trainer design a program for the athlete and have periodic check-ins (if the athlete is not training in person) to monitor progress.

There are also remote software training programs that can be used in the office or at home. One that we have used successfully with our athletes is Vizual Edge. We have been pleased with the level of detail and customization these programs have. The remote training sessions are designed to be shorter and more frequent than typical in-person training and can be done anywhere using a tablet or computer. Many practices utilize these programs during in-person training and have athletes continue the same program using the software at home. At-home training sessions can also be a combination of an online training program with a kit for a truly customized approach.

For me, being able to monitor an athlete’s progress through a dashboard is important. I want to make sure an athlete is logging in, completing the prescribed sessions, and improving. We check in with our remote athletes often, which has allowed us to be able to track their improvement and show value with our training. They always have access to us for questions, so even if we are not seeing them for in-person training, we still maintain a connection. Adding remote training to our programs has allowed us to continue to work with our high school athletes as they transition to college, or athletes who may have moved or travel for part of the year. We have also gained athletes from around the country who are interested in training with us.

While a remote training program was always on our list of improvements for Performance 20/20, the COVID-19 pandemic changed this idea from a “one day” to a “now” implementation. Having a way to work with our athletes no matter where they are has kept them working with us longer and given us ways to add even more technology to our offerings.

Jennifer L. Stewart, OD

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