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  A Quiet Eye
 
Photo of  Kathy shooting the basketball
  A steady gaze improves an athlete's free throw

In "A Quiet Eye," Joan Vickers of the University of Calgary uses a helmet outfitted with cameras and mirrors to track where athletes look as they play. Donning the elaborate headgear, Alan picks up a putter to see if there's a difference in where a rank amateur looks while putting as compared to a professional golfer.

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.
Photo of Alan playing tennis  
Alan put Vickers' technique to the test playing tennis  

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.

For more on this topic, see the web feature:
My Quiet Eye
Keep Your Mind on the Ball

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