VISION TRAINING FOR GOLF
"Nothing happens in sport until the eyes tell the body what to do".
Vision training has been used in a variety of sports including golf for many years in the training of elite athletic performance. Vision training refers to training your visual system (both your eyes and eye muscles) to work together and more efficiently in order to give better information to the brain. Your visual system is linked to your brain in intricate ways that influence everything we do.
The eyes are only sensors. Sight actually occurs in the brain.
Of all physical actions 80% are initiated with the eyes.
70% of the brain is dedicated to vision and 20% of the nerve fibers that come from your eyes go to brain centers that help muscle control systems and as one world renowned sports vision specialist says,
“Nothing happens in sport until the eyes tell the body what to do”.
Before we learn more about vision training and the skills involved, it is important that we understand some crucial points.
Before you say to yourself, “this is not important or relevant to me, my eyesight is fine”, you must understand that vision is a completely different thing from sight. Sight is how well you can read an eye chart, whereas vision is how well your eyes inform the brain.
We are all different! Traditional teaching, instructional and technical material (i.e. Books, DVD’S, CD’S, Videos, etc.) all assume that our perceptions are all the same. This cannot possibly be true. No two people share the same perspective when interpreting the environment. Based on our own personal interactions, our personal bias and our visual system we all create our own way of “seeing” the world around us. The eyes and the brain are not as exact in their perceptual analysis as we would like to believe. Our eyes can deceive us and it is possible to see something clearly but not be pointing our eyes directly at it. Alignment and depth perception (distance judgment) are two areas that are perception (visually) based. These areas are vitally important for golf.
“No amount of emphasis on mechanics or otherwise will make up for visual inadequacies”.
The sensory challenge of Golf requires the brain to receive accurate visual stimuli. When the stimuli (information) are picked up by the eye, it is transferred to the brain for interpretation and the motor (muscle) system is programmed to respond (how else would we play tennis or ping-pong?). For some it takes time to establish an accurate “eye – mind – body loop”. Once we learn how to see and perceive accurately, what follows is a sequence of events resulting in correct positive action. Perceptions can be altered with awareness. Awareness is what all elite sportsmen have in common. Performance is a stimulus – response relationship and the critical stimulus is visual;
“It's a matter of what you see, not what you feel”.
How does this all relate to Golf?
Well, Golf is a game of skills; Body skills - Mind skills - Visual skills. The skills required in golf, as in any sport can be taught, practiced and improved. Golf Professionals and Coaches teach the mechanics of swing technique. Fitness experts stress the importance of total body fitness and flexibility to enhance performance. Sports psychology teaches how to control the mind and behavior. However, Coaches often miss the very important aspect of visual fitness and fail to teach the visual skills necessary to make a player the best they can be.
Vision Training is an integral part of a total training program. Good visual and ocular motor (eye muscle) skills, together with increased concentration capabilities, can dramatically improve golf performance. If the visual information we receive is inaccurate, it will affect our perception and influence our performance level. The good news is that visual skills, like all physical skills can be taught, trained and improved.
In the last two decades, sports vision researchers have recognized that superior visual skills correlate with superior performance. They have developed tests and training procedures that can evaluate and improve visual skills as needed in each specific sport. Each sport has different visual skill demands and requirements.
Therefore, just as Biomechanics has gained recognition and respect in the world of golf and led to increased insight into the workings of the golf swing, Visual Skills Training is coming of age and is being recognized and used to gain an extra edge in performance and allowing players to reach new levels.
The visual skills needed in golf are as follows:
Good eye-aiming ability is essential and is taken for granted by every one of us! If this skill is not accurate you will misjudge short or long or left or right of the target.
Eye movement skills are needed to accurately and efficiently read the green. Most players do not move their eyes smoothly to read the green and visualize their putts. Instead their eyes take quick snap shots and send this information to the brain.
Golfers are constantly shifting their focus from the ball to the target and back. The ability to focus clearly from near to far and far to near is an important skill.
This is the ability for the eyes to work together as a team. It is important to train this because when the visual system fatigues it causes judgments to become inconsistent.
This skill allows you to identify subtleties which may not be seen by most players. For example, direction of grain and colour of the green.
This is essential in being able to correctly judge distance and the necessary energy for each shot.
This skill will help you read the greens and judge overall contours of each hole, as well as aid alignment for the full swing. It is also a help to relaxation and concentration.
Static Visual Acuity
This refers simply to the clarity of our vision. This can be corrected with glasses, lenses and surgery.
The eyes tell the brain where the ball is and the arms and hands swing the club. Any miscommunication between the two will adversely affect your performance.
The benefits of this skill are well known. It also enables us to maintain concentration and focus and avoid distractions (mechanics).
The good news is that these skills can be trained with vision exercises. Just like body conditioning and workouts, we can train and condition our eye muscles and our visual system. Training your visual system is very important and anything that improves vision improves the brain. The eyes and brain are connected by the optic nerve and whatever trains the eyes enhances the mind. The more we train the eyes and the stronger the visual clues, the better the brain will help with performance. Therefore, we can train strength, flexibility and stamina of our visual system. We train the strength of the focusing muscle system and we train and exercise the eye movement muscles of the eye for quicker and more accurate eye movements. Flexibility is trained so that the focusing muscle can flex back and forth accurately and easily. Stamina of these systems is developed so the player can perform at peak levels for long periods of time. Vision training also stops your visual system from getting fatigued and improves your concentration. Ever noticed how your eyes tire towards the end of a round?
In keeping with my commitment to bringing you first class instruction at the cutting edge of the industry, I will be holding special days to cover completely this exciting and different subject. On this day, you will learn the background to the subject, how to test your students and your own visual systems and how to train these relevant skills. All this is done with simple exercises and drills which are practiced both inside and on the golf course to equip you with all the skills to improve your own and your students’ visual system and ultimately, performance.
BRONZE X 5 HOURS
SILVER X 10 HOURS
GOLD X 20 HOURS