Adapted with permission from an article by Dr. Barry Seiler, Vizual Edge LLC
Sports Vision enhancement training is an integral part of a total athletic training program. Surprisingly, the visual dynamics of golf are similar to those of other individual and team sports; good ocular motor (eye muscle) skills, along with increased concentration capabilities, can dramatically improve a golfer’s performance on the course. Conversely, if visual information is inaccurate, it can throw off the body’s timing and cause a decrease in performance. If a golfer has a perfect stance, a flawless backswing and an uncanny talent for hitting the sweet spot, but is still unable to properly pinpoint the target, the overall skill set falls apart. Whether you’re a pro, amateur, or simply one of the millions of men and women in love with the game of golf, improved visual skills can make your next trip to the golf course a more rewarding and pleasant experience.
The following is a comprehensive outline of the most important dynamic visual skills for golf.
The ability to stay focused and maintain peak performance levels even during adverse conditions.
If depth perception is not optimal, the ability to estimate distances will be impaired. When trained properly, depth perception acts as a valuable aid in estimating yardage and in selecting the proper club.
If the golf player doesn’t estimate the distance correctly, assessing the green as well as making the correct putt will be difficult. The player will therefore have a tendency to either hit the ball too short or too long and possibly too much to the left or right.
When hitting the ball, it is also important to have your dominant eye facing forward. If you are using your non-dominant eye as your aiming eye, it will be the one primarily measuring the distance and ‘signaling’ to the brain. It is not significant whether binocular vision is fully optimal at this point, but if the dominant eye is not quite optimized, it will lead to a shifting of the estimation of distance.
Watching a professional golfer tee off is a thing of beauty. He addresses the ball, legs apart. The club appears to be an extension of his hands and arms as he begins the backswing head down, eyes on the ball, knees slightly flexed, arms firm. All muscles work in concert with one another, producing one fluid movement, as he makes the downswing, hitting the club head perfectly on the ball and continuing with his follow-through to complete the circle. This is often referred to as the “connection theory”, and is a result of good eye-hand-body coordination.
The ability to fine-focus on a target, quickly and accurately, using a series of eye movements. The ability to properly focus on the ball and the target, whether three feet or 300 yards away is essential in making good contact between the club head and the ball. Fine focusing techniques can help both in hitting the sweet spot and stroking a smoother putt.
The ability to effectively shift one’s focus near and far is particularly linked to putting performance. A player often misses a putt because he or she doesn’t read the proper break. Also, if the eye muscles are not correctly coordinated, pursuing the ball with the eyes in the downfall will be difficult. The ball will appear to be there, only to ‘vanish’ and then re-appear.
Being aware of the primary target (the ball) while simultaneously knowing where you want to direct the ball with your club is obviously an important skill to master.
This is the process of seeing yourself performing an athletic activity. Goal-oriented visual imagery techniques are used to help develop consistency in performance. Simply stated, if you can imagine yourself performing a proper swing often enough, you will tend to actually perform the swing in a like manner. Many trainers have their students practice with their eyes closed while visualizing the path they want the ball to take.