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There are a number of visual skills that are necessary for a driver to interact competitively in a race environment. These skills can be assessed and with training, improvement can be observed and translated to more confident and effective race performance. Some of these dynamic visual and mental skills are defined for your information.
Accommodation And Convergence
Accommodation is the ability to change focus immediately as objects, cars, etc move closer to, or farther away from you or when you switch from distant to near focus such as from the circuit to the instrument panel of the car. Convergence is the ability to keep both eyes working in unison as they track other cars that are moving rapidly in your environment. These are two separate skills that must work together to achieve good, clear vision.
The visual system provides you with the information needed to act, as well as the information needed to judge when to act. In fact, 85% of the information during any athletic competition is received via the visual channel. Timing, however, is the key to effective performance. Many efforts fail not because the physical movements were wrong, but because they were made at the wrong time. The activities, and even superior speed, size and reflexes cannot compensate for the faulty processing of visual information regarding when to perform.
Errors in racing can be classified into the following categories:
Errors of Omission
Situations in which you did not, or forgot to form an intention and therefore did not do what should have been done before a race or in a race.
Errors of Commission
These include actions you carried out that were wrong in one of two ways:
Forming an intention. A situation in which you decided to do something and it was done correctly and with good timing but it was the wrong thing to do under the circumstances.
Performing an intention. A situation in which you made a correct decision but it was done at the wrong time.
This is defined as the ability to maintain a high level of focus while driving competitively at the limits of your ability, in spite of distractions, and while maintaining total awareness of what is happening all around you. This is not to be confused with staring, which is just another form of distraction. Staring means the eyes are not focused but are in fact disassociated from the race and represents total loss of concentration with little or no sharp awareness of what is going on around you. This phenomenon may show up in the form of Brain Fade. The noticeably higher levels of performance evident during your “better” races can frequently be attributed to that “will to win” … or determination that accompanies an intense concentration on the race. It shows up in an unwavering focus on every relevant bit of information and action around your car, the discipline not to be distracted and the energy to sustain total concentration for the duration of the race.
We are able to perceive depth in space because we are endowed with stereopsis or binocular vision, whereby each eye actually records a separate, two-dimensional image on the retina. If both eyes are working in unison, the brain perceives the object as a single three-dimensional object. This allows us to judge the distance, speed and the dynamics of objects, cars, etc in our environment.
Dynamic Visual Acuity
This may be defined as “vision in motion”, or the ability to see, interpret and react immediately to a rapidly moving object while you are also in motion. This, obviously, is what is happening during the course of a race.
The eyes lead the body, not the other way around. Drivers who refer to “hand-eye” coordination have missed the significance of this relationship.
The Visual System Leads The Motor System
Our hands, feet or body respond to the information the eyes have sent to the brain. If this information is incorrect, even to the slightest degree, there is a good chance of error in our physical response. Many driver errors, or poorly executed maneuvers, can be attributed to faulty visual judgment, and it is visual judgment alone that determines eye-hand coordination.
This is not to be confused with peripheral vision which is relatively unchangeable. The visual field is strictly dictated by the skeletal structure and the shape of the retina. You can, however, enhance peripheral awareness, or your ability to maintain an awareness of what is happening around you during a race while keeping your concentration on the relevant field and race in front of the car. A well developed peripheral field will help you to see everything at once, to maintain the whole pattern, to sense the flow of the race as it constantly changes.
Speed And Span Of Recognition
This refers to how much information you can take in and process. Any increase you can achieve in recognizing a visual stimulus has a very special effect in terms of your overall competitive performance. It drives the physical impulses to a better reflex level. The reflex action becomes more automatic and requires less processing time. As a result, your physical response becomes much quicker, more accurate and more efficient.
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