by Thomas Kurz
In the previous article you learned that what you look at and when is a major factor in consistent high performance.
Now a bit about what differentiates sports experts or champions from nonexperts or also-rans:
–Fewer spots on which the eyes focus
–Smaller area of eye focus on the final target
–Longer duration of eye focus on the final target
–The optimal beginning and ending time for the final focus
–Knowing which cues are important and need to be looked at and which ones to ignore
So the expert athletes know–although few can verbalize that knowledge–what to look at, when, and for how long. By knowing what cues to ignore they avoid information overload (Vickers 2007). By focusing their gaze and thus attention on the right spot, they let their minds process info needed to program optimal actions. Having their attention focused solely on that spot prevents choking caused by distractions, whether internal or external.
Telling trainees where and when to look in each technique is an important part of instruction in sports and martial arts. You may read about it in the book Perception, Cognition, and Decision Training: The Quiet Eye in Action by Joan N. Vickers (2007).
It is fairly easy to do sports drills for focusing gaze and attention on one object at a time. An athlete can practice alone (e.g., shooting baskets with a ball or batting against a batting machine) or with a single partner. It is not as easy to do drills for reading complex tactical situations that call for simultaneously tracking multiple objects. There is a tool for it, however, and I will tell you about it in the next post.
This article is based on the book Perception, Cognition, and Decision Training: The Quiet Eye in Action by Joan N. Vickers (2007). Get this book now and have all of the info—not just the crumbs! Perception, Cognition, and Decision Training: The Quiet Eye in ActionOrder now!
If you have any questions on training you can post them at Stadion’s Sports and Training Discussion Forum.