Today is See To Play’s 5th birthday! And, we are having a very happy birthday!
Our fourth year was incredible, highlighted with the publication of the See To Play Vision Concussion Protocol. We’ve also ramped up production of our new Gaze Stabilization Exercise that will hit the market in 2016 (more to come on that in our next blog)
Our birthday present to you is to get back to the vision basics of athletic performance as stated in our book, See To Play: The Eyes of Elite Athletes. Athletes allow their vision to mess up their game. Here’s the 16 See To Play vision tips which athletes can follow so that they will reach their genetic potential in athletic performance:
1: See the best, be the best! See first, be first!
2: Athletes miss to the side of the better-seeing eye.
3: Being one unit off in an eye prescription alters an athlete’s reaction time.
4: Astigmatism likes the light and not the dark.
5: Elite athletes have a larger detailed vision zone.
6: Elite athletes have a larger area of extreme side vision.
7: Learn which eye you’re aiming with and use it wisely.
8: Be able to cross your eyes high and low and everywhere in between
9: Fast focus finishes first.
10: Eye-hand-body coordination is enhanced throughout a lifetime by many hours of
practice and repetition.
11: Most elite athletes started practicing their eye-hand-body skills early in life, well before
the age of six.
12: Good eye-hand coordination allows the world and activity to move slower and objects to
appear larger, helping athletes reach the zone.
13: Elite athletes can filter visual noise and keep their concentration.
14: Elite athletes use the mind’s eye to help them achieve athletic goals and sports-specific
15: Proper training, rest, and nutrition affect athletic performance and vision.
16: Never allow an athlete to push on his or her eye when in severe pain.
Halloween is tomorrow and it’s time for people to change their appearance.
Many people have already chosen to change the appearance of their eye color by wearing colored or tinted contact lenses.
There have been many generations of tinted contacts through the years with each new designed made to be more natural looking.
The newest design in tinted contact lens is the Air Optix Colored lenses. They’ve really done a great job of blending the peripheral color of the iris to the dark pupil in the center of the iris.
The designers have also had to be careful not to make the area in the center of the contact lens too small or people will not be able to see out of them clearly.
Early tinted contact lenses only changed light colored eyes to different shades of blue, green and aqua.
Eventually, opaque lenses were made to help change the appearance of brown-eyed people. These lenses tended to be thicker, less comfortable and a little more blurry. Advances in technology have really made them more comfortable with clearer vision.
These types of contacts are not recommended for athletic use because they can decrease contrast sensitivity (depth perception) and can even decrease peripheral vision if not seated perfectly in front of the pupil.
Amber or yellow contact lenses have been used in the past to help improve vision in very bright situations, but the availability of those types of lenses have fluctuated through the years.
I hope everyone has a great and safe Halloween!
Many of the newer eye exercises that we’ve been using on elite athletes is to practice placing their eyes in a certain area of gazes, making mental decisions while performing athletic activities. This has helped us train athletes to keep their eyes up allowing their heads to stay up while training brain and eye/hand/body coordination (such as the See To Play Gaze Stabilizer Exercise “Eye Baller”)
The next trend in training athlete’s visual systems is measuring where they place their eyes and how their eyes move.
One method is by having athletes look at a computer screen. Images begin to move and athletes are required to follow these images. There is a camera tracking the eye movements and athletes are judged on if they have their eyes gazing in the correct position and are moving them fluently with the targets. Athletes are graded on these tasks.
There is another method of testing how athletes use their gaze. Athletes wear special eyeglasses which are connected to a computer. Athletes perform athletic tasks and the glasses/computer measure where the eyes are pointed in these tasks, and how smooth their movements are.
In by book, See To Play, you are given several examples on how to point your eyes in the correct position, how to learn to move your eyes in a better fashion and how to strengthen weaknesses in convergence, divergence and focusing.
Hopefully you will have an opportunity to get involved with some of the newer technology as it becomes more easily accessible, but until then, See To Play is a great training manual to help you reach your genetic vision potential so that you can perform at your genetic athletic potential.
A recent article in the Atlantic Journal explained how eye movement therapy is being used as treatment for people who have experienced severe forms of trauma. This type of therapy is known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR.
Patients are asked to focus on a troubling image or thought. They are then directed to move their eyes back and forth quickly and allow their minds to go blank. (see the youtube clip below for more information)
A very similar technique used to help athletes shake out of negative thoughts during athletic performance is discussed in my book, See To Play. These negative thought loops can cause athletes to perform poorly.
Here is an excerpt from page 141:
"I would also like to add a technique here that I teach to athletes that uses visual noise to break up their thought processes on purpose. It is meant to be used at times when they realize that they are stuck in a negative thought pattern, such as when they are in an anger mode, in a slump, or feel themselves obsessing about something they shouldn’t during a game. This technique helps distract the thinking brain to get it out of its negative spiral. I tell them to look across the room at a wall about 20 feet away. Find two different spots on the wall that are separated by a distance of at least ten feet. They are to look at the spot on the left, then look on the spot on the right, back to the spot on the left and continue this back and forth as fast as they can. It is virtually impossible to continue thinking about what’s bothering you after about five to ten seconds of this motion. The visual information bogs down the brain. As a matter of fact, it’s hard to get a conscious thought going when you’re doing this. The key to making this technique successful in sports is to not go back to the negative subject that caused the problem in the first place, and to use the visualization techniques found in the next chapter to direct the brain down the right train of thought."
See To Play is full of cutting edge information geared to help athletes reach their genetic potential in athletic performance. This story illustrates another reason athletes should read my book and learn more about every aspect of their visual system.
For those of you seeking more information on how vision is affected by concussions, click here to read
an article that was just published this week.
We've been very fortunate to be in the forefront of this type of care and thank those that chose to recognize us for our endeavor. Our hope is that more people will learn this type of care so patients can return to normal life quicker.
This Sunday, I was selected as the Tar Heel of the Week by the News and Observer in recognition for my life's work in helping athletes reach their genetic athletic potential by seeing their best and also for our new concussion protocol that was published last month.
I am very honored! Click here to read the article.
I couldn't do this alone and I'd like to make sure that those who have helped me along the way know I have deeply appreciated their help.
It started with my parents.
I was devastated when I decided to hang up my football cleats. It's very hard to quit. I believe we've all been at that crossroad in our lives where one part of life ends, either by choice or not, and you have to move on. It was a very emotional time for me. I was very fortunate to have a great support system in my parents who guided me through the next months.
I guess this is my "never give up" speech (...and Jimmy Valvano's is the best!)
I've had so much help through my friends, teachers, professors, business partners, coworkers, athletes and patients. You all share this with me.
And for you athletes out there trying to reach you genetic athletic potential; the FIRST rule in my book, See To Play, is that you have to....
SEE THE BEST TO BE THE BEST
David Tanabe was the first NHL Carolina Hurricane to retire due to a concussion in 2008.
A couple months later, Matt Cullen suffered a concussion that affected the part of his brain responsible for moving the eyes, focusing the eyes and making vision (taking the input from the eyes and actually making sense of it all)
There was no vision protocol or no testing that could tell us, the team optometrists, how bad his injury was or how long it would take for him to heal.
That's when we started our work developing our concussion protocol. And this week, it was published in the Optometry and Visual Performance Journal. Click here to go to the article.
This protocol is a step by step guide for eye doctors to determine if an athlete has a concussion of the visual system and it also gives step by step instructions on how to help athletes get better through vision training.
A three year retrospective study showed that return to play was cut in half (from 12 weeks to 6 weeks) when this type of therapy was used.
The great thing about this protocol is that there are no gadgets for eye doctors to buy. Most of the equipment is already found in their office.
They can take this protocol and implement it today.
I see patients that travel to see me for concussion care from all over the country. Many of them wonder why more eye doctors don't do this type of care.
It is my hope that eye doctors will start treating patients with this type of injury today!
Concussions are a frustrating injury to have and sometimes slow to return to normal. Now there is a tool to help the recovery process.
You have to See To Play!!!
I ran across this news article which was written to teach parents how to use the King Devick test to determine if their child has sustained a concussion.
Click here to go to the article
If you're a NCAA basketball player wanting to improve your free throw percentage, don't play against Arizona State at their home arena. The crowd in the background is so distracting...you are going to miss! (read it here) Student shenanigan's in the background are making visiting team foul shooters miss 10% more of thier free throws.
I dedicated an entire chapter, Chapter 7 Visual Noise, to this fact. Actually, for those who haven't read my book yet, here is exactly what I wrote:
"Imagine you are a college basketball player. You are playing against your team’s biggest rival in their gym, which is filled with 15,000 screaming fans. It’s the championship game. The game is tied. There is a tenth of a second left to go in the game. You get fouled. You miss the first shot of a two-shot foul, so you only have one shot left. The other team calls a time out which has just now ended. You step up to the foul line where the referee hands you the ball. The crowd is screaming. You bounce the ball and look to find the rim 15 feet away. The backboard is made of a transparent material so you see the hundreds of fans around it and behind it rooting against you, jumping up and down and waving their big orange noodles. The backboard and rim appear to be floating and engulfed in this sea of bouncing humanity and orange noodles. You focus on the front of the rim and try to ignore the motion of all the waving stuff behind it.
Sounds pretty intense, huh?
Your brain is being bombarded by input from your eyes. The fans and their orange noodles are visual noise. You are accustomed to practicing in a gym, with no fans or movement in the background. The backboard and rim are easily visible. You have no problems concentrating on the rim in that atmosphere. Your brain is on cruise control there. Things change when your eyes start sending the brain input from things that you are not used to seeing. You have to learn to filter out those distractions.
Visual noise can affect the way that athletes perform, but not many athletes realize that the best way combat it is to prepare for its presence. We know it exists. We know there are forces out there trying to break our concentration, that creep into our heads and make us fall short in our athletic endeavors. The crowd screams loud. Whistles blow. Opposing players talk smack as well as their fans, and things are going on all around us that, if allowed to enter the thought process in a negative way, can distract the athlete."
See To Play; The Eyes of Elite Athletes has enjoyed much success since it was published almost 3 years ago. Ahead of it's time? For the readers of See To Play, the success of the Arizona State students' distractions to opponent's free throw success is old news....but it's great to get more outside data concurring with us!
You have to See To Play.....and.....learn to filter out visual noise!
Danny was always better than the average player in baseball as he grew up.
He also went to the eye doctor in middle school and found out that a mild eye glasses prescription could help him see 20/15 instead of the 20/25 vision that he saw without glasses. The only problem was he had astigmatism and contacts wouldn’t work with his type of prescription. He also didn’t like glasses for hitting.
Danny made it to the collegiate level, but his stats at hitting began to falter. He didn’t get a offer from a pro team, so he tried out for several for a couple of years.
Growing up, his parents spent a lot of money on equipment, camps, lessons and travel ball. He spent a lot of his energy and time on practicing and playing.
He retired from baseball at 23.
He cheated himself of reaching his genetic potential because he didn’t like to wear his eyeglasses.
Mike was great at basketball, mainly because he was 6’ 4” by middle school. He found out he was 20/60 but couldn’t put contacts in his eyes. He didn’t like glasses so he elected to play with blurry vision. He played AAU and made the high school team. During his junior year his numbers started faltering and he was moved off the better AAU teams. He didn’t want to try contacts again but still had dreams of becoming a pro basketball player. He earned a scholarship to a Div. III school but retired from basketball after he graduated.
Mike’s parents spent a lot of money on shoes, camps, lessons and travel ball. He spent a lot of his energy and time on practicing and playing. He cheated himself of reaching his genetic potential because he didn’t force himself to wear contacts or glasses.
3 out of 5 Americans wear contacts or glasses from the ages of 18-35. Only 1 out 5 athletes in the NBA and NFL wear glasses or contacts.
That means, 2 out of 5 athletes cheated themselves out of becoming a professional athlete because they thought they could see well enough to play, but they couldn’t.
The stories about Danny and Mike are true. I watched it happen. They were patients of mine (although I changed the names in this story). I worked really hard trying to educate them about not seeing their best and how it could affect them playing their sport.
Why did they skimp on their vision?
Why didn't they want to be the best that they could be?
Why not do all that you can do to be the best?
Why cheat yourself?
You really do have to see to play!