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Friday, February 17, 2012

Does vision training work? Let’s see!

This is from the BPS blog  http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.com/2012/02/could-sportsmen-and-women-benefit-from.html

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Could sportsmen and women benefit from "vision training"?
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Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have reported dramatic improvements in their baseball team after enrolling the players in "vision training", designed to strengthen and speed the eye muscles and enhance visual processing. Based on their findings, Joseph Clark and his colleagues (including Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench) said "there are few sports that could not benefit from some form of vision training."


Thrice weekly 30-minute training sessions began six weeks prior to the 2011 season, becoming twice weekly during the season. There were eight different training exercises, which escalated in difficulty over time.


Here's a flavour of what was involved. With the "Brock string", balls were suspended on an 8-foot string extending from an athlete's nose, parallel to the ground. His task was to switch his focus from near balls to farther balls, thus training convergent movements of the eyes. Another exercise with strobe glasses had the effect of intermittently blinding the athlete as he tracked incoming balls …The Dynavision exercise involved the athlete tapping targets as quickly as possible as they appeared on a large touch-screen.


…To gauge the success of their training intervention they compared changes in their team's batting performance from the 2010 to 2011 season with changes recorded for other teams in the Big East league. The difference was striking. The batting average of the Cincinnati team showed a substantial improvement, whereas the average for all other teams actually deteriorated slightly…"The muscles in the eyes can be trained and conditioned to perform better and faster in focusing and tracking objects such as baseballs," the researchers said - an idea they believe was corroborated by reports of eye muscle soreness among their players.


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Clark, J., Ellis, J., Bench, J., Khoury, J., and Graman, P. (2012). High-Performance Vision Training Improves Batting Statistics for University of Cincinnati Baseball Players. PLoS ONE, 7 (1) DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0029109


Author weblink: http://www.med.uc.edu/neurology/facstaff/profile.html?userid=Mjk5NQ%3D%3D


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