Every four years the world unites in a wonderfully crazy passionate time to cheer, laugh and cry (we all feel for Brazil…) for a sport that transcends cultures, borders and social status. While the U.S. is just now starting to show the beginnings of becoming a soccer “fanation” with the rest of the world, this sport has dominated our youth as a favorite for decades. And for those of us who have kept the passion alive in our minds, while our bodies continue to remind us we aren’t in college anymore, the tournament of “the world’s game” gives good reason to remind all of us that health assessments, physicals and training should always include a very important, but often unintentionally omitted, focus: the eyes.
Vision is a critical component for athletes and not a lot of people realize that you can “train” your eyes just like you can train other parts of your body. In addition to traditional eye care, where you monitor your eye health and prescription needs, sports vision training can help work on improving the visual abilities of an athlete and is a great way to gain a competitive edge. This is especially important in sports like soccer where you need strong peripheral vision to scan quickly for your teammates, keep an eye on your opponents and an ability to quickly and clearly see up and down the field and track a ball at your feet, in the air and to connect it to various parts of your body at different heights and speeds. The difference can be as large as celebrating someone like USA’s Tim Howard and sympathizing someone like Brazil’s Julio Cesar. So when your kids are training to become the next generation of soccer stars (or you during your highly intense intermural sessions), be sure to help give opportunity for an edge by making your family’s eye doctor a part of the training team.