The role of visual skills and its impact on skill performance of cricket players
The aim of this study was to determine the role and the impact of a visual skills training programme on the skills performance of cricket players, and whether visual training programmes are beneficial to competitive sports performance. Highly skilled cricket players (n=13) who were actively participating at a provincial level of competition, served as participants. Since the sample was relatively small non-parametric statistics, i.e. Wilcoxon test was used to analyze data. After initial testing the cricket players participated in an eight-week visual skill and performance skills programme for 60 minutes a day, once a week. The programme included sports vision activities, speed and agility activities and ball skills activities. The pre-training and post-training values of the cricket players were recorded and significance of difference was determined by using the Wilcoxon signed-ranks test. Data revealed that the visual skills programme had a significant influence on most of the tested variables (ball handling skills, co-ordination, visual awareness, eye tracking skills, accuracy, peripheral awareness, pro-action – reaction skills and visual concentration). For some variables that were tested on the experimental group improvements were found, which indicates that the improvements can be ascribed to the visual skills programme. More than half of the variables tested improved in the experimental group as well. It can thus be concluded that there was an increase in most of the variables tested (ball handling skills, co-ordination, visual awareness, eye tracking skills, accuracy, peripheral awareness, pro-action – reaction skills and visual concentration). Visual skills training, utilizing the conditions in this investigation, can result in an increase in the players’ visual fields. Visual
skills training programmes can be beneficial to competitive sports performance.
Key words: Cricketers, visual, perceptual, and motor skills, speed, agility, and visual performance.