Tag Archives: sports vision

The Vision Of Cristiano Ronaldo

via Axon Sports

Last year, the Spanish newspaper Marca revealed the nicknames that Real Madrid players have given each other inside the Santiago Bernabéu locker room.  While some names poked fun at a player’s appearance (“Nemo” for Mesut Özil’s bulging eyes), superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was simply known as “la máquina”, Spanish for “the machine.”  With his humanoid robot physique and his superior speed and quickness, Ronaldo seems to be programmed for goal scoring. Indeed, sponsor Castrol has developed a self-proclaimed documentary, “Ronaldo – Tested To The Limit”, to attempt to explain the Portuguese player’s body strength, mental ability, technique and skill.  The most interesting of the four segments, mental ability, helps us realize that …

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Elite Soccer Players’ Brains Excel At Planning And Problem Solving

via Axon Sports

Coaches and commentators often refer to an athlete’s ability to “see the field” or be a play-maker.  Rookies at the next level can’t wait for the game to “slow down” so their brains can process all of the moving pieces.  What exactly is this so-called game intelligence and court vision?  Can it be recognized and developed in younger players?  For the first time, neuroscientists at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet have found a link between our brain’s “executive functions” and sports success. When in the middle of a heated game on the field or court, our brains are accomplishing the ultimate in multitasking.  Moving, anticipating, strategizing, reacting and performing requires an enormous amount …

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Mirror Neurons Help Explain Why Baseball Hitting Is Contagious

via Axon Sports

One of baseball’s well worn axioms is that “hitting is contagious.”  Once a few batters get on base, those hitting behind them rally at the plate.  In fact, MLB batting averages are roughly 50%–70% higher for a batter following hits by the previous two batters as compared to outs made by the previous two batters.  While baseball theorists have explanations for this such as rattled pitchers or motivated hitters, recent cognitive science research points to a unique learning system in our brains known as mirror neurons. When a young player picks up a bat for the first time, they begin a long process of education that relies heavily on imitation.  Watching …

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An Athlete’s Perception Skill Transfers To The Real World

via Axon Sports

Boy Scouts just got some competition.  Now, when little, old ladies need to cross a busy street, they should find a well-trained athlete to do the job, according to University of Illinois researchers. In a test of skill transfer, Laura Chaddock, a researcher at Illinois’ Human Perception and Performance lab, and her team pushed a bunch of college students out into busy traffic to see how well they could navigate the oncoming cars… well, sort of. With the help of a virtual 3D environment called the CAVE, volunteer pedestrians can step into a simulated city street scene, seeing traffic whiz by on three surrounding screens, while walking on a synchronized treadmill. …

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Top Tennis Players Simply See Better

via Axon Sports

For most of us mere mortals, if an object was coming at us at 120-150 mph, we would be lucky to just get out of the way. Top tennis players, like Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, not only see the ball coming at them with such speed, but plan where they want to place their return shot and swing their racquet in time to make contact.

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Gaze Control Helps Golfers and Surgeons

via Axon Sports

Surgeons now have a really good excuse to be out on the golf course.  Researchers have shown that the same training technique that will improve their putting can also improve their operating skills.  Dr Samuel Vine and Dr Mark Wilson, from Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter, tested both elite golfers and surgical residents in two separate experiments using the gaze control technique known as the “Quiet Eye.” First, they divided 22 elite golfers, (handicaps less than 6), into two groups after their baseline putting performance was measured.  The control group received no additional training while the experimental group participated in Quiet Eye (QE) training, a method first …

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ESPN Sports Science on Pitch Recognition

via Axon Sports

Last year ESPN Sports Science did a great feature on just how tight the timeframe is for baseball players standing at the plate against major league pitching. It’s a great visual complement to everything that we’ve been talking about on the blog around the gaze patterns of athletes, high-speed decision making and the way that elite athletes become highly tuned to the visual cues that guide anticipation. From an earlier post on the anticipatory skills of athletes: Research out of Brunel University and the University of Hong Kong have shown that when watching tape of opponents, the areas of athletes’ brains associated with observation and prediction light up, and that those …

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Hardware Vs. Software: Does Sports Vision Training Work?

via Axon Sports

Yesterday we looked at a new study that compared the pre- and post-training visual performance of athletes who used Nike’s new Vapor Strobes vs. a control group.  The study aimed to test whether athletes’ visual performance increased after using the strobe goggles, which have lenses that flicker between clear and opaque to reduce the amount of visual information that the athlete receives, and found modest effects in some areas, none in others. It makes for a nice jumping-off point to talk about the field of “sports vision training”, “eye training” or “sensory training” and the hardware vs. software debate around which skills in the visual-perceptual-cognitive system are most apt to improve …

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Nike Strobe Specs may or may not improve visual-perceptual performance

via Axon Sports

Limiting the amount of visual and perceptual information that an athlete receives is quickly becoming a new frontier in performance training.  A couple weeks ago we looked at the special anticipatory skills of elite athletes and the way that they are able to use only the most relevant visual information to predict future events.  Now, a new study* out of Duke University’s Visual Cognition lab reports the results of an experiment in which the effects on visual-perceptual function of Nike’s new Vapor Strobe goggles** were tested on a population of Duke club and varsity athletes across a variety of sports. The strobe eyeware essentially creates an experience in which the wearer’s …

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