The Sports Gene, the new book by Sports Illustration senior writer David Epstein, jumps right into the debate of nurture versus nature by posing these questions in the front flap: “Are stars like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and Serena Williams genetic freaks put on Earth to dominate their respective sports? Or are they simply normal people who overcame their biological limits through sheer force of will and obsessive training?”
The Sports Gene presents its argument that vision traits are genetic by building off information found in literature like See To Play. We were excited to be mentioned on page 39 where the author identifies that cones are responsible for visual acuity. As Mr. Epstein describes, increases in the density (or number) of the cones in the area of the macula allow for better vision. This explains how athlete’s vision varies from 20/20 to the humanly best vision acuity possible of 20/8.
Visual acuity, unfortunately, is the only vision test that most athletes undergo to judge their vision. This testing is primarily performed during their medical physicals. The main reason for this testing is to refer those athletes with 20/40 vision, or worse, to the eye doctor. This actually fails athletes whose vision is better than 20/40. For example, an athlete who exhibits 20/20 vision during his or her medical physical may actually have the genetic potential to be corrected to 20/10 or 20/8. A 20/20 result gives the athlete a false sense of security of normal vision when he or she could be pushed to even better vision. Elite athletes see better than 20/20.
Athletes who desire to reach their genetic potential in sports performance need to be using their best possible vision. The eye doctor’s testing is the only way to insure this is happening.
See To Play takes the discussion of vision beyond cone density (where the vision topic ends in The Sports Gene ). We do this by describing how elite athletes have increased cone density over a larger area in the back of their eyes (known as the macula). This fact is proven from results noticed in our testing of athletes’ detailed vision zone. Elite athletes have bigger areas in which they see clearer. Their eyes take in a larger clearer area of information than the average athlete.
We use visual acuity (cone density) and the detailed vision zone (the size of area of cone density) to predict which athletes will make it to the elite status. These two factors can stand alone in predicting which athlete have the visual system to perform the best.
The See To Play Ranking Method, described in chapter 13, also adds factors such as speed of focusing, eye alignment, eye muscle strenth and eye hand coordination to help define which athletes see the best to play.
The Sports Gene realizes what those who have read See To Play know: elite athletes have superhuman vision.
Read See To Play to learn everything you need to know about the parts of athlete’s vision required to perform at the level of the elite.
Welcome to my blog! I hope this helps you learn a little more about me and also keeps you up to date on my fun world of sports vision.