Have you ever played a Nintendo Wii game with an uncalibrated remote? (Calibration maps the movement of the remote accurately into the TV screen.) Say you’re playing Wii golf. You swing your club (the remote) to make a perfect shot, but the golf ball instead flies off toward your kitchen for a snack. If you’re stubborn, you may try again before dragging out the recalibration instructions, or just join the golf ball in the kitchen for a more satisfying experience.
Luckily, you know that Wii Golf is not supposed to work this way. Something is amiss. But what if you didn’t know? What would it be like trying to play sports in a world where everything is out of calibration, and your movements don’t line up with reality? Your amazing brain will probably try to compensate, but you face greater challenges than someone without the issue.
As the outdoor sports season gets underway, now is a great time to observe how your child’s eye-hand-body coordination is developing. Does your child have a poor aim when tossing a ball? Maybe he or she always strikes out at softball or drops “sure-thing” catches. You may assume that your child is simply uncoordinated or needs practice. But your child may be sending a message: don’t overlook the role of vision, especially as it shows up in sports performance.
Sports coordination depends on the accuracy and processing of information coming from the eyes into the brain. Vision occurs in the brain!
Most children are born with healthy eyes but have to learn how to use their eyes and coordinate them with the rest of their body. Many problems can be corrected successfully, and vision therapy can help put the pieces together. The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) is a great resource to find a doctor near you for a comprehensive vision exam.
And don’t forget that visualization is a powerful technique for helping kids improve their sports performance and confidence. Stay tuned for more on sports vision training and using visualization in coming weeks.