Vizual Edge recently developed a new visual tracking exercise that focuses on smooth eye movements, also known as pursuits. By adding this new exercise, in addition to the saccadic tracking exercise that has been used by thousands of athletes on the Edge Trainer, Vizual Edge offers the most complete form of visual tracking exercises.
Tracking is one of the most important and encompassing skills needed to have a strong visual skills foundation. There are a few variations of tracking, but two of the most critical and most recognizable ones are saccades and pursuits.
Saccadic tracking, which is currently used in the Vizual Edge evaluation and training exercises, focuses on the ability to quickly and accurately shift focus from one target or object, to another.
Visual pursuits refers to the eye’s ability to smoothly follow a moving target, rather than simply jumping from point A to point B, like saccades.
In athletics, pursuits are critical for an athlete’s ability to track a moving object , such as a hockey puck moving across the ice or a flyball in baseball. While saccadic tracking focuses more on the quick reaction speed and the eye’s ability to shift focus from point A to point B, pursuits tracking enables an athlete’s eyes to continuously follow the object.
Having a strong foundation of pursuit movements can give an athlete the ability to truly track and follow a moving object better than their opponent, which could make all the difference in competition.
Both saccadic and pursuit eye movements are initiated from a part of the brain called the Frontal Eye Fields. This area helps the eye muscles initiate either saccadic or pursuit movements, which impact daily tasks, such as reading. Without properly training pursuits, in addition to saccades, there may be a disconnect between the eye movements, so it is vital to train both in order to have the most efficient visual system.
From the moment the ball leaves the pitcher's hand, to after a hitter makes contact with the ball, baseball players are utilizing smooth eye movements (pursuits) throughout the course of the game. As a hitter, the ability to continuously track and follow the movement of the pitch as it approaches the plate utilizes pursuits. After the ball is in play, infielders and outfielders need to continuously monitor the ball depending on if it is a fly or ground ball in order to make a play. While saccadic tracking focuses more on the quickness to react to the ball, pursuits allows baseball players to continuously follow and track the ball.
Hockey is quite different than baseball in many regards, one of which being that the object (puck) is constantly in play and players need to be alert and continuously monitoring the movement of the puck as it moves along the rink. This is especially important for skaters, as they are the ones moving the puck around and need their eyes to keep up with the speed at which a play is developing. The same idea applies here for goaltenders in the sense that they need to be able to continuously follow the puck to be prepared to make a save, should the puck approach the goal.
There are many other sports that require strong pursuit movements in order to be an effective competitor. Soccer, volleyball, basketball, motor sports and other all require athletes to monitor a continuously moving object and respond and react appropriately. Without a strong tracking foundation of both saccadic and pursuit eye movements, athletes may be impacted in their given sport.
WINNING IS IN SIGHT!