March madness showcases how much some athletes have to move and shift their eyes while coming down the court and others don't.
This is called gaze control and elite athletes have better gaze control. They don't shift their eyes as much.
One reason average athletes move their eyes more is because their area of vision is smaller than that of the elite.
Our central vision gives us our best vision and we can measure this on athletes. In my book, See To Play, we describe this area as the detailed vision zone and how to measure for it. Average athletes see detail in less than 30 degrees of one gaze while the best athletes see over 50 degrees. (I met with professional basketball trainer, Joe Sharpe, this summer and this fact really impressed him...so much so that he thanked me by sending a Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and OKC Thunder signed ball.)
Let’s compare two basketball point guards standing at the top of the three point line. The average athlete will have to shift their eyes 5 times to see from one side of the court to the other. The better athletes can see that same area with just 2 shifts of eye gaze. The better athlete moves his eyes half as much, takes in the same information and performs that task in a shorter amount of time.
Eye gaze has been studied on athletes by measuring how much athletes move their eyes. These studies found that better athletes move their eyes less and their eyes don’t jump as much before decision making. This is often referred to as a quiet eye. Brain activity was also measured to be less before decision making with these athletes.
This raises the question: does this occur because athletes are more mentally prepared or are there other factors?
I believe that the biggest factor is how much an athlete sees (i.e., athletes who exhibit large detailed vision zone take in more information in one gaze, can get the whole picture of the playing field in a shorter amount of time allowing for less processing and quicker decision making.) I hope this will be studied more by the quiet eye folks.
So, which came first? The chicken or the egg…………….or in this instance….is gazed controlled by the size of the detailed vision zone or the amount of thinking?
I’ll take the athlete with the larger detailed vision zone!
Enjoy watching the March Madness Eye Movements!
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