A Quiet Eye

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

For years, Joan Vickers of the University of Calgary has been using a helmet outfitted with cameras and mirrors to track where athletes look as they play, and she has found that they have a surprisingly quiet eye that settles down on what’s important:

Vickers has found that almost all novice golfers follow the ball with their eyes after they hit it — and Alan’s no exception. By comparison, David Lindsay has been taught by Vickers to use his eyes the way the experts do. He looks steadily at the intended target for a second or two, looks back at the ball and lets his gaze rest there before and even after the stroke — what Vickers calls a “quiet eye.”

Will this technique help Alan? On his previous tries, Alan never hit better than three putts in six tries. Using the quiet eye gaze, he improves to four in six.

For several seasons, Vickers has used this technique to improve the free throwing of the University of Calgary’s women’s basketball team. First, she trains them to say “Nothing but net” to settle themselves down. Then, as they stare at the net, they say, “Sight, Focus,” ensuring their gaze remains steady on the target for at least one second.

The team was shooting 54 percent when Vickers started working with them. Within three years, they improved by an extraordinary 22 percent.

Basketball in hand, Alan once again tries the quiet-eye technique. The result: nothing but net.

Watch the video.

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