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Athletes With Previous Concussion Have 4 Times the Risk of Another

skiing with protective gogglesEvery year, about 33 million children worldwide sustain a concussion. Even more worrying, children who have already experienced a concussion are at heightened risk of experiencing a second concussion, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis of seven research studies, the British Journal of Sports Medicine reported.

While protective gear and non-contact rules are reducing the incidence of concussions, many coaches, athletes and parents aren’t aware that sports vision training can lower the risk of sustaining a head injury like a concussion by developing an athlete’s visual skills. Find out what sports vision training is and how it can help prevent a concussion.

What is Sports Vision Training?

The goal of sports vision training is to improve the way the eyes communicate with the brain to achieve maximum efficiency while playing sports.

Sports vision training is a customized program created by your optometrist to hone visual skills, including hand-eye coordination, eye tracking, and peripheral vision. By boosting these skills, the brain is able to quickly and efficiently process the messages sent to it by the eyes, and transmit these signals to the body.

Children and adults who cannot accurately gauge the velocity of a ball rushing toward them, or the distance between them and opposing players, are more prone to accidents on the field, resulting in concussions. Sports vision training mitigates this risk by providing athletes of all ages and abilities with the visual skills needed to react quickly. These same skills improve sports performance.

How Does a Concussion Affect Your Vision?

People who sustain a concussion, which is the most common form of brain injury, often experience dizziness, difficulty focusing, headaches and double vision. Sports vision training can help improve your visual skills by focusing on:

  • Balance
  • Light Sensitivity
  • Depth Perception
  • Dynamic Visual Acuity
  • Eye Tracking
  • Focusing
  • Hand-Eye or Body-Eye Coordination
  • Peripheral Awareness
  • Reaction Time

How Can Vision Training Help Prevent a Concussion?

More than 50% of people with concussions (or post-concussion syndrome) experience visual problems like double vision and delayed eye tracking — the same visual skills an athlete needs to play safely and well. It’s not surprising, then, that concussed athletes are at greater risk of experiencing additional head injuries.

Sports vision training involves a personalized regimen of in-office and at-home visual exercises and scenarios to train the eyes, brain and body to work more efficiently, regardless of the sport. Athletes experience improved reaction times, speed and accuracy as a result.

Rather than simply hoping to avoid serious accidents on the field, take action and start a sports vision training program.

To learn more about how sports vision training can help prevent a concussion, or future ones, contact us at Acworth Family Eyecare to schedule an appointment with one of our sports vision experts.

Acworth Family Eyecare serves patients from , Woodstock, Kennesaw, and Cartersville, throughout Georgia.

How to Improve Your Sports-Related Visual Skills

sport protective eyewear 640x350When you think of the skills necessary to succeed at sports, speed, strength, agility, and endurance probably come to mind.

But have you considered how much we depend on visual skills to play sports? It’s no surprise that coaches tell their players to “Keep your eye on the ball” and “Look the ball into your glove.”

That’s because the visual system is the primary guide for the rest of the body to execute the physical actions needed in sports and every other aspect of life.

Some Visual Skills to Work On

Visual skills are a crucial component of a wide range of sports. Take tennis. You have to closely watch the ball from the second an opponent hits it to calculate the ball’s flight. That allows you to calculate where to plant your feet, how much to twist your torso, and where to position your arm in order to deliver the best counter strike.

Here are 5 visual skills used in sports, and tips for how you can improve them:

Dynamic visual acuity: being attentive to details in moving objects. As the baseball flies toward you, watch its spin to discern whether the pitch is a curveball (which dips down toward home plate) or a slider (which darts to the side and down).

Hand-eye coordination: the information seen and processed by the eyes and brain guides the movement of the hands. When a basketball teammate snaps a no-look pass your way, your hand-eye coordination is vital to see the ball’s approach and get your hands in position to catch it.

Eye tracking: the eyes moving together to follow an object. Watch a basketball from the second you release your jump shot until it drops through the hoop.

Peripheral vision: noticing objects at the edge of your visual field while looking straight ahead. To practice anticipating an opponent sneaking in to steal the basketball you’re dribbling, take notice during a simple walk on a city street. Is another pedestrian coming alongside you on the right? On the left?

Focus flexibility: adjusting focus between nearby and farther-away objects. This is key when playing table tennis and focusing on both the ball bouncing toward you and your opponent’s position across the net. Practice by strongly bouncing a tennis ball against a wall eight feet away, being alert to the precise spots each time the bounced ball hits the ground and the wall.

Acworth Family Eyecare provides sports-vision training, a customized program to help you process visual information and respond faster. We will conduct a vision evaluation, assess your visual skills, and design exercises to strengthen the visual skills you rely on. In follow-up appointments, Dr. Dylan Reach will monitor your progress.

Acworth Family Eyecare works on sports-vision techniques with athletes in Acworth, Woodstock, Kennesaw, Cartersville, and throughout Georgia.

 

6 Ways to Improve Athletic Performance

6 Ways to Improve Athletic Performance v2Did you know that portly baseball legend Babe Ruth gobbled hot dogs before games or his night-owl habits? (A teammate once quipped, “I didn’t room with Babe. I roomed with his luggage.”)

Oh, how sports training has evolved! Today’s top athletes view excess pounds and sleep-deprived nights as threatening to their future performance, not to mention their next hefty contract.

To keep body and soul in peak condition, elite athletes employ personal trainers, chefs, sports psychologists, and other specialists. At stadiums and arenas, teams similarly support their players with the best that sports training offers. Hi-tech devices let athletes monitor body fat, heart rate, and fatigue up to the minute.

Even if you’re not an elite athlete, you can implement the following tips to supercharge athletic performance. Whether you’re trying out for the high school rowing team, competing in a Sunday softball league, or training for a 5K charity run, the following will be sure to take your game to the next level.

  1. Eat sensibly: Athletes should generally consume up to 3,000 calories a day in food and beverages. Consume wisely, and research experts’ nutritional tips, which often suggest a diet high in protein, vegetables, and legumes, while keeping your sugar and alcohol intake low.
  2. Get enough sleep:  Adequate sleep energizes us physically and emotionally for sports and the rest of the day ahead. On the flip side, sleep deprivation saps energy, raises the level of stress hormones, and lowers the production of glycogen, which stores carbohydrates — all of which adversely affect athletic competition.
  3. Warm up: Whether you run 25 miles a week or bicycle across your city, make sure to prepare your muscles for the rigors ahead. This gets the blood pumping, loosens the joints, and focuses the brain. So the next time you attend a professional baseball game, watch what players do even before batting practice: they stretch, sprint and do arm circles, among other exercises.
  4. Think positively: The great baseball catcher and accidental linguist, Yogi Berra, once said, “Baseball is 90% mental, and the other half is physical.” Yogi was onto something. Sports psychologists preach a positive attitude to set goals, strive for excellence, maintain motivation, and develop resilience in the face of challenges. Try it and see for yourself!
  5. Repeat: A lost Manhattan pedestrian once asked, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” A wise guy on the street answered: “practice, practice, practice." Same with getting to Madison Square Garden. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s dunks and Steph Curry’s jump shots don’t magically happen in games. They practiced their basketball techniques and skills for thousands of sweat-filled hours on empty basketball courts. Do the same and diligently practice your skills if you want to get really good at sports — or anything else for that matter.
  6. Improve vision skills: Good vision and visual skills are what give an athlete that extra edge. Think they function similarly while poring over a spread-sheet budget as when racing downfield to prevent a flag-football opponent from reaching the end zone? Hardly. Sports vision training, tailored to a sport’s demands, prepares the brain to quickly process what the eyes see so the body responds faster to a moving target. Has the outside hitter shifted ever so slightly? With sports-vision training, you’ll recognize his or her move and better anticipate a spike attempt at your next volleyball game.

The takeaway? Work hard and play hard. Do not underestimate the importance of checking your visual skills for any deficits which may be keeping you from succeeding on the court, rink or track.

Typical examinations generally don’t cover the visual skills called upon in sports, but Dr. Dylan Reach will evaluate yours. If needed, Dr. Dylan Reach will tailor a treatment program to improve your visual skills, whether it's to help keep your eyes focused on the ball, improve tracking and depth perception to successfully complete a pass or to improve peripheral vision awareness, strong eye-tracking, and visual concentration skills.

Acworth Family Eyecare is a sports vision training optometric practice that offers evidence-based sports vision training to enhance an athlete's vision abilities to take their game to the next level. We help athletes of all ages from Acworth, Woodstock, Kennesaw, Cartersville, and throughout Georgia.

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Come see us to develop your visual skills for sports.

How Can I Putt Like Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus?

man playing golfGolf is a very visual sport, so if your visual skills are subpar, it will hurt your golf game. Sports vision training — individually prescribed exercises that develop specific visual skills and processing in athletes — can improve your game. Such training can be done off the course to hone putting, which is one of the most demanding strokes.

Putting, hitting a golf ball with a light stroke, requires intense concentration, calm under pressure, and a superb ability to read the greens: to understand how the closely-cropped grass near the hole will accelerate or slow, divert or escort a softly struck golf ball. Putting also demands knowing how far the ball must travel and precisely where on the club the ball should be tapped (the “sweet spot”).

Unfortunately, even golfers with 20/20 vision won’t succeed if their eyes don’t work in unison, or if they have poor eye-hand-body coordination. That’s where sports vision training comes into play.

Becoming a Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus is a tall order, but whether you’re a professional or an amateur golfer, sports vision training can make you a better golfer.

Improve Putting By Training Your Visual Skills

First and foremost, Dr. Dylan Reach of Acworth Family Eyecare will test your visual skills using a functional eye exam. This will include evaluating your hand-eye coordination, eye tracking, eye teaming (how the eyes work together), peripheral vision and ability to discern contrasts between colors. Dr. Dylan Reach will then prescribe a tailored program for your needs that will include in-office and at-home exercises in order to strengthen each skill.

How Can Sports Vision Training Improve Your Putting?

Customized sports vision training can help golfers:

  • Analyze the ball’s location in relation to the hole
  • Position the club so that its sweet spot lines up with the ball
  • Conceive a strategy for hitting the ball to account for the distance, the greens, even the wind
  • Convert that strategy into action with the club that delivers the ball into the hole

On a practical level, once golfers line up on the green to putt, they engage in a prolonged routine that’s almost never seen elsewhere on the course. Because they need to keep focusing on a close-by object and then shift their focus to the targeted destination, they repeatedly look back and forth between the ball at their feet and the hole.

This is known as focus flexibility, a technique that can be practiced at home by focusing on the floor tile near your toe, then on a dog-food dish (or other objects) located 15 feet away, then back on the tile, and so on. To practice depth perception, move from spot to spot and estimate each distance from the closest tile to the dog-food dish. To improve peripheral vision, focus on the tile while simultaneously attempting (and without changing the position of your head) to see the dog-food dish.

Visual Skills + Imagining Great Outcomes = Visualization

Sports vision training also involves a technique known as visualization, which is applicable to sports and to all areas of life. It involves closing your eyes and envisioning yourself taking each step necessary to execute a perfect putt. When you line up a putt in real life, those images will come to mind, ready to be applied step by step to attain success: sinking the putt.

 

Dr. Dylan Reach will develop a customized sports vision training plan to improve your putting and overall golf performance. Acworth Family Eyecare assists people just like you, from Acworth, Woodstock, Kennesaw, Cartersville and throughout Georgia.

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Why Vision Training Is Vital for Your Swing 

action athlete athletic ball 279004 (1)It is no secret that hitting a baseball out of the park is considered one of the most difficult challenges in sports. Batters in MLB have less than half a second to meet a 90 mph fastball with the bat’s sweet spot. This means there is virtually no other specific action in any sport that is as demanding to a player’s visual system. What remains a mystery is why so few coaches and managers ask their teams to utilize vision training, which will enhance their performance on the diamond.

The impact of sports vision training is still greatly underestimated. Many athletes, parents, and coaches believe vision is an innate skill and are unaware of the many ways to improve it, and, in turn, enhance a player’s overall athletic performance.

Recognize That Pitch!

There are many kinds of pitches, each with a self-explanatory name: the fastball is extremely fast, a curveball makes a downward curve, and a knuckleball – well, only a true baseball fan understands what that is.

For the batter, naming the pitch is not enough to hit the ball. He only has a fraction of a second to identify what’s coming at him and react accordingly. Keeping his eyes on the ball and assessing direction, speed, and motion is highly demanding for a player’s entire neuro-visual system.

5 Essential Visual Skills for Keeping Eyes on the Ball

  • Speed of focus – The ball is racing towards you at a speed of 70 to over 100 miles per hour. As the ball moves, the eyes must constantly refocus.
  • Eye teaming – The eyes must be perfectly synchronized to keep track of the ball in flight.
  • Depth perception and peripheral vision – Both are critical in assessing the distance, direction, and speed of the fast-moving baseball.
  • Convergence – To follow the ball as it flies towards you, a perfect convergence of both eyes is needed.
  • Visual processing speed – The speed at which all this visual information can be processed inside the brain is critical.

Why Vision Training Is Crucial for Your Swing? generic from EyeCarePro on Vimeo.

Sports Vision Training as Part of the Regular Baseball Training Schedule

Training to increase strength, accuracy, endurance, and speed is a given in sports. In the same way that players can develop their physical and motor skills, they can improve eye alignment, depth perception, and any of the visual skills listed above through regular sports vision training. It can be an integral part of baseball training for every player.

Sports Vision Trainer Dr. Dylan Reach will create a customized training program for your players based on a sports vision exam that evaluates each player’s visual skills with a specific focus on baseball requirements. The players will each receive individualized training sessions at Acworth Family Eyecare as well as additional exercises to carry out at home. A training program for your whole team can also be provided.

It’s still early in the season. Start helping each player boost their visual skills and performance. Take your baseball team to the next level. Contact Dr. Dylan Reach at Acworth Family Eyecare today.

We train athletes from Acworth, Woodstock, Kennesaw, Cartersville, and throughout Georgia.