TEAM Arizona Riding Tip: See Like a Superhero?
Vision is critical to our success as riders. Most importantly, when we corner a motorcycle, we should be using our eyes to find key elements to the corner which include locating the turn point, the apex, and the exit of the corner. Did you know that you can use different eye training exercises to:
- Enhance Depth Perception
- Increase focusing speed
- Increase speed of processing information
- Increase visual concentration for extended periods of times (necessary when riding through curvy mountain passes)
- Decrease reaction time
Athletes from various sports, including Major League Baseball, the NFL, PGA, and NBA employ various eye training exercises to gain an edge. Are you ready to increase your skill on a motorcycle and start using the same exercises racing champions use?
When it comes to vision, it helps if we have a good foundation. When was the last time you had your eyes checked? If it has been more than three years, you may want to start there. A thorough eye exam will determine if you’ve experienced any changes in vision. A comprehensive eye exam will include:
- Eye health review (test for glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration)
- Near and Far Distance evaluation
- Tests to determine how well the eyes are working together
IT WORKS IF YOU WORK IT
Do eye exercises actually work? In a phone conversation Rich Oliver, owner of Rich Oliver’s Mystery School and Five-time AMA 250 Grand Prix National Champion, he was gracious enough to provide us with some insight about how he trained his eyes to become a champion. First, he stated he’s just “paying it forward” as it was an eye doctor in Los Angeles who generously shared eye training exercises with him several decades ago. Rich immediately found several eye exercises to be a valuable way to track objects as he moved quickly through time and space.
In this blog, we’ve pieced together a few exercises recommended from various professional and academic sources. Some exercises and “training programs” found on the web often include expensive contraptions and have been debunked as methods to improve our vision. We’ve done our best to sift through the noise to provide a few exercises that will directly enhance how we see on a motorcycle. Will it give you superhuman vision? No. Will it improve your visual acuity? The science indicates yes but that more research is needed. In the meantime, give these exercises a shot. NOTE: These exercises will not help if your eyes are suffering from medical issues (glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration). We recommend these exercises merely as a supplement to becoming a better motorcyclist.
The Warm Up
To get the eyes (including the muscles around the eyeball) warmed up, we’ll begin with some simple eye movements. This exercise is from a portion of the Bates Method. While some exercises from the Bates Method are widely disregarded as pseudoscience, this particular exercise is accepted by eye specialists as beneficial for the eyes. Until recently it was believed that the adult brain and vision processing pathways could not be retrained. This is not the case. There is now compelling evidence that it is almost as trainable as a child’s. This is exciting because it means that with the correct eye exercises, or “training” environment and activities, you can actually retrain your eye (really your brain).
With the exercise below, you’ll want to move your eyes as far as they’ll go without straining.
- Move your eyes all the way to the left and then back to the right (repeat 10 times)
- Move your eyes up and down (repeat 10 times)
- Move eyes tracing diagonals from upper left to bottom right; upper right to bottom left (repeat 10 times)
- Move eyes in circular motion (repeat 10 times)
- Move eyes in figure “8” motion (repeat 10 times)
Convergence/Divergence/Accommodation Eye Exercise
Acquiring a reference point close to us and then selecting one far away is a necessary part of cornering. Being able to rapidly shift our focus from near to far quickly and accurately determines how quickly we steer our motorcycles and whether or not we’ll be able to precisely hit our turn, apex, and exit points. Practice this simple exercise 20-40 times each day:
- Extend your arm fully and hold your thumb up
- Focus on your thumb until you can see it clearly and it is sharply in focus
- Change your focus to an object in the distance (we recommend starting out selecting something 50 feet away; see if you can work up to 300 feet)
- Once the object in the distance is clearly in focus, change your focus back to your thumb
See Like Prey
Even though we’re trying to find key reference points when we’re cornering, we also need to learn how to see in a way similar to the manner in which prey see when being chased by a predator. They are using their peripheral vision to help them select alternative escape routes. Like prey, motorcyclists often need to select escape routes that may differ from our originally chosen path. How do we develop this larger “in-focus” picture? By performing this exercise:
- While focusing on an object in the distance (start at 30 feet and gradually increase), bring your awareness to the environment around the object without moving your eyes.
- What kind of detail around the central object can you obtain?
- Practice this for 30 seconds per day
The expectation with this exercise is that we’ll be able to expand our vision to reduce the sensation of speed when riding.
MODERN LIFE, MODERN TROUBLES
If you’re like this author, you find yourself in front of a computer screen for up to 10 hours per day. Our eyes didn’t evolve to have this type of strain placed upon it. To reduce the strain, we need to help our eyes. It is suggested that every 10 or so minutes of computer work you take a minute to rest your eyes. This includes blinking rapidly for 10 to 15 seconds and then keeping your eyes closed for approximately 45 seconds. This break gives your eyes a chance to recover and reduce the strain, thus helping to prevent a loss of vision acuity.
Want to practice using your enhanced vision? Why not check out an Advanced Riding Techniques course or Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic this fall? It’s right around the corner and the courses fill up fast, so don’t delay!
If you choose to give these exercises a shot, we want to hear from you. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org