Department of Psychology
Master of Arts
In today's competitive world of athletics it is not uncommon to discover a few athletes actively involved in some form of vision enhancement motivated by the promise that the exercises will improve their athletic performance. A review of past and present literature in the area of sports vision revealed that these athletes are performing exercises based upon a very weak scientific foundation. Most of the research investigating the relationship between vision and athletic performance has been plagued by flawed methodology, as well as extremely low numbers of subjects. The purpose of this study was to test for any relationship between vision and athletic performance. If it could be shown that a relationship exists between a particular visual attribute and a specific athletic skill, it would help establish the utility for using vision enhancement exercises to improve athletic performance. In the present study, four NCAA Division I athletic teams were tested on a battery of visual attributes prior to the start of their regular seasons. The athletic teams tested were Women's volleyball (N=14), Men's basketball (N=15), Women's basketball (N=12), and Men's baseball (N=27). Each athlete was tested on the following visual measures: visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, depth perception, choice reaction time, hand and eye dominance, and peripheral attention. A copy of each team's cumulative seasonal statistics was obtained and used as a measure of athletic ability. These statistics contained cumulative information on each individual player. Only the major players were selected for analysis. The selection of the "major" players was based on a ratio of participation for each sport. Data analyses were carried out separately for each sport. For all three sports the visual attribute of contrast sensitivity suffered from a lack of variance and was omitted from further analyses. A significant amount of variance was accounted for in only one seasonal statistic from the data for Women's volleyball. Choice reaction time and UFOV™ duration (a peripheral attention score) accounted for 79% of the variance for the volleyball statistic of digs per game. Examination of the data for the Men's and Women's basketball teams did not reveal any significant relationships. The analyses of the data from the Men's baseball team revealed a significant correlation between batting average and depth perception, as well as a marginal trend between batting average and choice reaction time. The present study improved over past research by employing a test of peripheral awareness. It was felt that the employment of this measurement was an improvement because peripheral awareness has been shown to be a better predictor of complex behavior compared to tests of peripheral perimetry used in past research. Two other ways in which the present study improved over past studies were by analyzing data from major players only and by investigating multiple visual attributes, sports, and athletic performance criteria. The present study could have been improved by employing an alternative method for measuring contrast sensitivity, by increasing the number of subjects analyzed for each sport and for each position within each sport, and by developing a test or battery of tests to measure specific athletic skills in the absence of environmental confounds such as player-position bias, opponents, and teammates.
Psychology | Sports Sciences
Wininger, Steven Richard, "The Relationship Between Vision and Athletic Performance" (1995). Masters Theses & Specialist Projects. Paper 925.