|Visual tracking ability is important in many sports and can have a significant influence on performance. Despite this, coaches rarely train athletes’ visual ability and, while eye movement training is not a new issue in sport, it is thought to cost too much time for the athletes. Here, a simple way to improve athletes’ visual ability with the aim of enhancing sporting performance was investigated, using seven days of visual training in volleyball players. In Experiment 1, the participants were divided into two groups, one receiving the dynamic visual training task and the other being an untrained control group. As an measure of athletic performance, all participants participated in a volleyball spiking performance test. After a week, despite improvement in the visual task there was no difference between the spiking performance of the experimental (trained) group and the control (untrained) group, which was measured in terms of correctness of route, success rate of the spike and accuracy of the spike. In Experiment 2, the participants were grouped in the same way as the Experiment 1. The spike test was altered so that it no longer required detection of and reacting to a target location and increased the pretest and posttest of the visual test. Volleyball performance accuracy was measured in the same way as Experiment 1 and change in performance was compared with visual test performance change. It was found that the amount of change in the success rate of the spike and the change in the accuracy of the spike was positively correlated with the amount of change in the visual test. In Experiment 3, the spike test was the same as Experiment 2, and there was a single group of participants. These participants performed a visual training task without tracking with the aim of testing for the specificity of the training effect (i.e. was visual motion important). Data obtained were also compared with the data from Experiment 2. Although this group showed significant improvement on the visual training task, the volleyball performance results were similar to the control group. These results suggest that it is visual tracking that helped to improve sporting performance. In Experiment 4, retention of any of the beneficial effects was tested, with retesting of the dynamic vision training group from Experiment 2, who performed the spike test and the visual test again after one month. It was found that the correct rate of the spike and the success rate of the spike did not differ after one month, and, while the accuracy of the spike decreased, itt was higher than prior to training one month ago.
This data suggests there may be significant benefits to sporting performance to be gained from suitable visual cognitive training, although interactions with levels of performance and sporting event outcomes require further study.