Sometimes seeing well is not only about seeing clearly but seeing fast. Taking in the light waves bouncing off the ball, the court, the room, the people, the books, the walls all around you. Light is constantly dancing, reflecting, jumping off the world around you, what you see depends on how well you can take in the information and process it.
When you open your eyes or turn your head, you see the light that is bouncing off of the ball, your teammates, your opponents, the crowd, and everything around you. The light has already left the object. For the last split second that light has been travelling towards you or away from the object at literally the speed of light or slightly less than 186,282 miles per second.
The time between turning your head or opening your eyes and perceiving the object or the motion is the time it takes for your eyes to collect the light, send the information to your brain, and for your brain to understand what you are seeing. The light zips from the object to the cornea or outer layer of the eye, through the eye to the retina at the back of the eye. The retina converts these light waves into chemical signals that travel along the optic nerves, through the optic chiasm under the biological clock towards the occipital lobe or visual cortex in the back of the brain. Some of the information zips over to the amygdala, which overlays emotional information. Have you seen this object or person before? Do you like or fear them? How do you feel about what you are seeing? The occipital lobe interprets the shapes, textures and colors to mean a certain thing, a baseball, a coach, an injured opponent favoring their right side, an excited fan. And then you truly "see."
This book is about speeding up the time it takes your eyes to translate the light energy (colors, shapes, textures, etc) into chemical information travelling along the nerves towards the visual cortex (occipital lobe) at the back of the head. It is about developing the ability to understand and perceive what you are seeing more quickly. And finally it is about taking that visual information and sending it to your body, your hands and feet faster so that you can respond to what you see in a more successful way.
Blinking Is Like Weight Training for the Eye
When you lift weights you are making the movement of your arms and legs more difficult in the hope that the muscles will get stronger so that when you are on the field or court those muscles will be stronger and help you run faster or jump higher.
We can do a similar thing with the eyes by blinking. When you blink you briefly shut off visual information from your brain for the period of time that your eyes are closed. You are making it more difficult to see, especially to see things or people that are moving while your eyes are closed.
This trains the brain to grab the information more quickly when your eyes are open. In a sense the brain is learning that it doesn't have 24/7 access to the visual information it needs to respond to the world around it and so it better pay attention to the information when it can see. The two following exercises are based on the ideas that came out of Nike when they created a pair of goggles that blink for you.
These goggles are used by professional athletes during practice to speed up reaction time. The frequency and length of time the shutters are closed and open are adjustable in a way that simply blinking can't be adjusted but blinking is the place to start for free.
One way to use this book is to learn one new exercise each day for a month.
Once you have learned all the exercises, you can pick and choose the ones that seem to work best for you and only do those exercises on a regular basis.
Another way to use this information is to learn three or four exercises and repeat those exercises each day for a week or a month and then move on to three or four new exercises.
Each exercise takes one to twenty minutes so you can also decide how much time you want to devote to developing your ability to see faster and respond more quickly.
Counting Consciously While Blinking
Try this. Start blinking your eyes as you look around. If you simply blink for a minute or so, your brain gets bored and doesn't pay attention so the key is what you pay attention to as you blink.
As you blink look around and ask yourself questions.
What do you see that is red?
What do you see that is square?
How many shoes can you count?
Counting sets up a rhythm. One, two, three ... How many stairs do you see? How many people?
By practicing this blinking while counting, you send a message to the brain about what is important.
How many players are there? How many of your opponents are there? What are the names of your teammates? How many teammates can you see?
This blinking exercise can also be done as you and the other players move around the field or court.
Spend a few minutes practicing this blinking. Many people report that the room or space seems brighter after blinking for a minute or so. This is because the eyes are taking in light more quickly and easily when you stop blinking.
Paying Attention to Shapes and Textures While Blinking
In this exercise the focus is on the shape of things while you are blinking. Start blinking your eyes as you look around. Notice all the things that are round or square. Notice all the things that are soft or fuzzy. Notice the texture difference between shoes and clothes. Notice the size difference between a baseball and a basketball.
Get a sense as you blink about how something would feel it you touched it.
Continue blinking and touch some of the items you have been paying attention to. Feel the ridges on a basketball, the seams on a soccer ball, the leather of a baseball, the pointy end of a football.
You are taking in information visually and also through your hands. This helps with seeing faster but also helps with hand-eye coordination.
—an excerpt from 30 Ways to See Faster & Play Stronger, A Month of Vision Strategies for Athletes and Successful People by Kimberly Burnham
Kimberly Burnham, PhD (Integrative Medicine)
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