Ever wonder why elite soccer players can seemingly thread the eye of a needle with their passes and shots?
According to a new study, competitive players have much better vision than people who aren’t athletes.
Researchers at Liverpool John Moores University in England assessed 49 soccer players from a professional English Premier League, 31 university soccer players, and 230 healthy non-athletes.
The volunteers were tested for visual clarity (sharpness of focus), contrast sensitivity (ability to distinguish objects from their background), and near-far quickness (speed of switching focus from near to far objects).
Average scores were better for both groups of soccer players than for the non-athletes. There were no differences between the professional and university players, the researchers said.
However, defensive players had faster near-far quickness than offensive players, something that may be particularly helpful to defenders, according to the researchers.
The study was published June 8 in the journal Science and Medicine in Football.
The findings show the importance of good vision in soccer and the potential for gaining a competitive edge through vision support and training, the researchers said.
However, “future studies need to determine the precise nature of the relationship with on-field performance,” said study researcher Simon Bennett in a journal news release. He studies human motor behavior at the university’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences.
The U.S. National Eye Institute offers tips for keeping your eyes healthy.