Monday, 12 January 2015

Sports Vision Casebook - Putting - Part 1

Following on from my previous blog on eye dominance, I want to talk about vision and putting, starting with more on eye dominance. One of the first sports vision assessments I did within my practice was a young golfer brought in by his father because he was missing a lot of putts.

Having established that there was nothing wrong with his eyesight, I decided to have a look at his eye dominance. I had two golf balls, so I placed one on the floor and got him to stand by it as if he were taking a putt. The other ball I placed on the floor at the end of the room to simulate the hole.

I asked the young man to put one hand over the other to form a small hole between them. I told him to hold his arms out straight and to look through that hole to the ball next to him and to close each eye in turn to see which one stayed in alignment. I then asked him to do the same for the ball at the end of the room. 

It turned out that when he fixated the ball, he used his right eye for alignment, but when he fixated the hole he used his left eye. It’s not surprising that is you’re aligning one task with different eyes that you won’t be very accurate.

These were early days in my sports vision career, so I wasn’t entirely sure how to advise him to correct this problem, but I think just explaining the problem was helpful. I told him that he needed to make some kind of adjustment, either in the position of the ball or in the angle of his head when he looked at the ball or hole, to ensure that he was consistent with his aiming eye. 

I would also have checked his dominant eye in the more conventional fashion of making a hole with his hands and looking through it to my nose. I can’t remember now which his dominant eye was, and whether the non-dominant eye took over when he was looking at the ball or hole. But I also suggested that he might find it helpful to begin with by closing the non-dominant eye so he could get in a position where he could be sure of aligning with the dominant eye.

Since then, I have learned rather more about aiming when putting as I’ve started to see some professional golfers...more of that in Part 2. 

David Donner