Sports Vision Training

Basketball and Vision


Sports—regardless of what sport is being played—place a strain on your vision. In order to perform at your best, you need to have visual clarity, efficient eye focusing and teaming skills, as well as advanced visual processing capabilities. Clear vision is necessary in all sports, but some sports put unique demands on your visual system throughout competition. For instance, there are some sports that make it necessary to connect your foot, hand, or piece of equipment with a moving object, while other sports require that you hit a stationary object.

Below is what is called a Sport-Specific Athlete Vision Profile and it takes into account the 12 relative demands that are placed on your visual system when you are playing the sport of basketball. Take into consideration that the visual demands may very well vary between the offense and defense as well as the various positions that are played, but the diagram is designed to describe the overall visual demands that a player experiences during a basketball game.

  1. Visual Attention

When it comes to visual attention, it can be one of the three things: central, peripheral, or divided. In basketball, the visual demand tends to be split with the focus being on central attention. Basketball players need to be aware of their surroundings for offense and defense, since this is the requirements of the team sport. When deciding to pass or shoot, the visual attention quickly changes to central. The call for selective visual attention can be seen easily during shooting free throws. It is beneficial for a player to be able to focus on the basket while also blocking on any distractions around and behind the backboard.

  1. Duration

The visual demands of basketball or any other sport can be sustained or short duration. In the sport of basketball, there is a sustained visual demand with short duration, high visual demand actions like shooting throughout the game. An athlete who has limited visual endurance may find that he or she performs better early on in the game as opposed to the final quarter of the game, making it very difficult to close the game.

  1. Directional Localization

This particular skill is utilized when an athlete is trying to determine the speed and direction of a moving object. In basketball, there is a very high demand of this skill since rebounds and passes needed to be identified and localized for athletes to be successful in the sport.

  1. Dynamic-Reactive

Sports that contain dynamic-reactive components require athletes to respond quickly to moving objects. In basketball, athletes need to quickly react on both offense and defense. This may involve creating a turnover, blocking a shot, or rebounding the ball, but a player must be able to react quickly to visual stimuli that are constantly changing.

  1. Athlete Movement

During competition, athletes may be relatively stable or in motion. In basketball, athletes are in motion constantly. This is true even when they are making a jump shot; a player’s body needs to leave the ground and be in motion when they are shooting the ball, placing a high demand on the player’s visual system.

  1. Target Demand

During competition, the target can be stationary (aka static) or in motion (aka dynamic). Dynamic focuses on present vision data in a manner that is constantly changing, which requires that the player process visual changes in a fluid manner.

  1. Target Size

In basketball, there are ultimately two targets: the basketball and the basket. The basketball is large compared to the relatively small area that it needs to be placed in (the basket). Therefore, the visual demands are at their prime when the ball is being shot, leaving very little room for error.

  1. Visual Distance

Visual distance refers directly to the target that is providing the visual demand during the game. In a basketball game, the visual distance can be variable. From full court passes to layups, the basketball needs to be able to utilize the eyes efficiently at an assortment of distances.

  1. Visual Space Range

This refers to the range over which visual data needs to be attended to. In basketball, the range spans the whole court for most of the game. During shooting, however, the range narrows substantially as the athlete is focusing primarily on the basket as well as any defensive players who may be trying to block the shot.

  1. Gaze Angle

The gaze angle is the direction that the athlete is looking during any particular activity during a sport. In basketball, athletes need to look in a variety of directions while playing the sports, though the most important gaze is up at the basket, which is above eye level. In this particular gaze angle, efficient eye skills are crucial when rebounding or shooting.

  1. Boundaries

Visual boundaries in sports are visual areas that athletes need to attend to during competition. Generally, these boundaries will coincide with the playing surface boundaries.

  1. Contract / Figure-Ground

During competition, contrast sensitivity—the ability to differentiate between various shades of the same color—is crucial. It is also important to be able to identify an important object from background clutter, which is known as figure-ground. These two demands are very important during a game of basketball since the surrounding crowd can often be distracting and create confusion during game play.

For more information about the visual demands and performance of basketball, contact the professionals at Performance Vision.

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