New Tech Tools Score High With Sports Vision Trainers

20/20 Magazine

April 24, 2020

Article from Brian Dunleavy of 20/20 Magazine

Vision training for athletes needs to start with an evaluation of their current needs. That includes an assessment of their eye/hand coordination, reaction time and “anticipation”—their ability to essentially predict what will happen next on the field of play (think: where the ball will go so they can run it down and catch it) as well as decision-making and overall athletic performance.

“We don’t actually train the eyes; that’s a bit of the misnomer,” Stewart notes. “We teach athletes to identify faster, make a cognitive decision faster and therefore make a faster and more efficient motor decision. For any sport, this is essential, including hitting a fastball, making a save in goal, or catching a pass. Athletes understand anticipation and decision making—we explain our training in the context of their sport and position.”

The Edge Trainer from Vizual Edge, a company that has focused on web-based visual performance assessment platforms for the past 15 years, is designed to assess athletes’ “visual processing” strengths and weaknesses—essentially, how they see, process what they see and act upon it—and then design an individual program to improve their reaction time, positional and spatial awareness and recognition; or as the company puts it, “to sharpen neural pathways between the eyes and brain, enhancing an athlete’s ability to optimize performance.”

The analysis is done based on the company’s six core visual skills: convergence (or the coordinated inward movement of both eyes toward each other in order to view a target at close range), depth perception (or the ability to perceive the relative distance of a target as well as its velocity and trajectory), divergence (or the simultaneous outward movement of both eyes away from each other to locate a target at distance), recognition (the ability to observe, process and recall a series of visual targets and respond), vision tracking (the ability to maintain focus on a target while monitoring all other aspects of the game) and visual alignment (the ability to perceive the true location of a target—like a ball in the air—as opposed to the space in front of or behind it).

The Edge Trainer’s programs are “organic,” meaning they evolve to become more challenging as the athlete’s skills progress and improve. Some of the programs are for the enhancement of overall performance, while others focus on specific skills athletes may want to “hone” immediately prior to a competition. Vizual Edge offers customizable training programs for a variety of sports and the various positions athletes in these sports play. The Edge Trainer has been used by the baseball program at Northern Illinois University and by teams in the United States Hockey League.

You can view the rest of the article here.

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