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Decision-making is a complex process which involves multiple systems in the body. Football players are required to make numerous decisions in a match. Players are exposed to many stimuli on the field which they must recognise and interpret before making a decision. Perception is the first stage in the decision-making process. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the effect of a visual intervention programme on the visual skills of senior professional football players. The sample consisted of 22 male football players aged between 20 and 31. Participants underwent a full visual test battery which assessed visual acuity, accommodation, contrast sensitivity, stereopsis, fusion flexibility, central-peripheral awareness, eye-hand co-ordination, visual adjustability and colour discrimination. Intervention consisted of an eight-week basic vision training programme. Statistical significance was set at p<0.05 and practical significance was set at Cohen’s d>0.5 and r>0.3 (effect size). There were significant improvements found in stereopsis (pre-test: 61.14±34.08; post-test: 47.05±28.31), accommodation (pre-test: 18.95±3.79; post-test: 24.05±7.39), contrast sensitivity (pre-test: 1.09±0.29; post-test: 1.43±0.60), fusion flexibility (pre-test: 13.23±3.18; post-test: 17.36±4.68), central-peripheral awareness (pre-test: 33.36±10.12; post-test: 35.59±8.58), hand-eye co-ordination (pre-test: 28.68±6.11; post-test: 32.73±6.11) and visual adjustability for up (pre-test: 3.36±1.73; post-test: 4.14±2.27), left (pretest: 8.05±3.93; post-test: 6.91±4.31) and right (pre-test: 9.73±3.21; post-test: 8.14±3.33). Thus, the visual training programme significantly enhanced the visual skills of the participating football players. The promising results from this study could possibly lead to improved football performance during matches in players who perform this visual training programme.
Keywords: Sports vision, visual training, football, soccer.