The visual system is more than just ‘what’s the smallest line on the chart you can see,’” Gee said. “The visual system consists of many things, but specifically for sports, depth perception, color, speed and accuracy of movements and contrast sensitivity – or the ability to detect an object off a background.”
It reminded me of some of the fuss a few years ago when the then England Rugby coach, Clive Woodward employed a peripheral vision coach for the team.
There is a good story here - Woodward focuses on 'extra 1%' with enlistment of vision expert from World Cup staff - from the Guardian, which reviews the work of this visual awareness coach"
When Sir Clive Woodward was in charge of the England rugby team, his employment of Sherylle Calder, the world's leading visual awareness coach, was a hallmark of his style. Nineteen months into his job as elite performance director for the British Olympic Association, Woodward has secured Calder's services again, for the benefit of British Olympians.
Calder, who is contracted to the BOA until the 2012 Olympics, was a full-time member of England's coaching staff in the run-up to the 2003 World Cup. Her work was a prime example of Woodward's meticulous attention to detail, and he repeatedly flagged up the importance of her pioneering methods.
She left the England set-up shortly after Woodward and since then she has been working with the South Africa rugby team, meaning she has had direct involvement in two World Cup successes. Add to that her stint with the Australian cricket side and it makes for an impressive CV.
Woodward first took notice of Calder's work during a presentation in which she showed him a picture of Lawrence Dallaglio in his underwear, and asked why, when so much weightlifting work was being done, no one was honing the muscles that controlled Dallaglio's eyesight. "Nothing," Calder pointed out, "can happen on a sports pitch until the eyes have done their work." Calder specialises not only in improving hand-eye coordination but also in developing peripheral vision. When Woodward talked about playing "heads-up rugby", as he was so prone to doing, it was Calder who worked on the players' ability to absorb, and react to, the visual information around them.
At the elite level these small factors become very important.