CORRELATION BETWEEN VISUAL FUNCTION AND PERFORMANCE OUTCOME IN PREMIER LEAGUE SOCCER
Division of Orthoptics, University of Liverpool; Manchester United Football Club, England
Keywords: Visual function, binocular vision, peripheral vision, soccer, exercise
With the increase in sports vision research in recent years, certain aspects of vision have been included in the medical assessment of athletes. Sports vision research has concentrated on certain aspects of visual ability, peripheral vision for instance; or combinations of functions, such as dynamic visual acuity. An analysis of the importance of specific visual functions to elite soccer performance has not been assessed. A full range of visual assessments were performed on all professional players at the English Premier League Club Manchester United. Six visual functions were identified as being most relevant to elite soccer players, namely binocular vision, stereoscopic vision, contrast sensitivity, peripheral visual sensitivity, peripheral contrast sensitivity, and visual reaction time. An individual vision score of the players were compared to the final scores of 38 games during a season. The only function which revealed a clear correlation (p< 0.001) with the outcome of the game was the binocular vision score. The findings support Manchester United’s current visual training strategy.