Weight training model.
Coach Wile explains that sports vision, as a training tool, is perhaps at the stage where weight training was 25 years ago. It is impossible to scientifically draw a direct link between weight training and enhanced athletic performance in a non-weight lifting competition; though it is a common belief that one exists. Today, weight training is used to enhance performance in most sports and there is little debate as to the benefits of resistance training with respect to athletics.
Likewise, it is impossible to draw a direct link between sports vision training and enhanced athletic performance. Nonetheless, it would make sense that training the visual system, and working the muscles associated with eye movements and eye-hand reflexes would enhance performance in sports that rely on visual input.
Over the past few years, there has been an increased use and acceptance of sports vision training. However, not everyone is a proponent, perhaps as not all people were proponents of weight training 25 years ago.
Some researchers claim that any improved performance achieved after sports vision training is simply a result of test familiarity. Coach Wile agrees that exercises may be learned, but says familiarity with a certain piece of equipment can only account for improvement during the first few tests or practice cycles. “Long-term improvements should be attributed to changes in the body, whether mental or physical,” he says.
If I were asked, ‘Can you prove that an athlete is quicker on the field because of eye training?’, says Wile, I would respond by asking, ‘Can you prove to me that an athlete is better on the field because he can bench press 100 pounds more?’ It’s common sense that applies. I have trained thousands of athletes at the Academy, says Wile, I can show you that the fastest individuals on the SVT and AcuVision boards, and the hardest workers in the lab, are historically the athletes that are our premier performers in the athletic arena.
Two of the Academy’s best athletes in the past four years-quarterback Chance Harridge and basketball guard Antoine Hood-still hold the record for the fastest one minute stints on the SVT boards, says Wile. It’s an incredible sight when a star freshman athlete comes into our lab and does his or her first test on one of these boards and realizes how their hand speed cannot come close to an athlete who has been performing this exercise for four years.
In addition, our experience shows that if an individual performs vision training, their visual systems will continue to improve with practice, similar to other types of training.
As athletes tap out their potential in other aspects of their performance, like speed, power or strength, what will they turn to next to increase their performance? The trend seems to indicate that they will turn to vision training. Increasingly, it appears that the individual who can process more visual information in a shorter period and make the proper response will have an advantage in competition.