What differentiates elite athletes, surgeons, and other professionals who carry out specialized physical activities from amateurs?
Joan Vickers, a professor of Kinesiology from the University of Calgary studies the impact that vision had on an athlete’s performance. Her work led to the knowledge and use of a practice called ‘Quiet Eye’ which is one of the differences between elite athletes and amateurs.
What is ‘quiet eye’?
The simple definition of the quiet eye is having a ‘fixation’ or a ‘tracking gaze’ that’s placed on an object or a specific task. What makes the quiet eye phenomenon special is that it’s something that experts in surgery and athletics do that amateurs don’t.
When performing a physical task, it’s natural to look at the ball when we’re playing basketball and to look at the hoop that we’re going to shoot it into along with the trajectory the ball will take to land in the hoop.
What’s interesting is that with experts in physical domains, their ‘quiet eye’ tends to last longer than that of non-professionals. They experience focus and a state of flow as they play tennis, golf, or do complicated heart surgery.
Why does quiet eye matter?
This phenomenon can be applied in a reverse direction to help beginners in a sport or physical activity to improve their performance faster.
In your own life, knowing what quiet eye is and applying it can lead to better results in your tasks and make you more productive.
The idea is that when you’re new to learning something, your eyes move around to gather information and understand unfamiliar elements. More parts of your brain are activated. This does not help you learn faster but is a distraction that keeps you from focusing.
Applying the quiet eye technique by focusing on the object and/or target of your task is more effective. You can do this by keeping your eye movement steady and paying attention to a ball if you’re playing a game or the keys or a piano if you’re playing music. Keep your eye still for a few seconds and keep practicing. You should see positive results in a very short time.
How to apply quiet eye
Let’s look at a few ways to build up your ability to practice the quiet eye as you work.
The most obvious and direct way to practice this is by consciously focusing your attention on your task avoiding looking at anything other than the object and endpoint of your work. As you keep practicing this, you’ll experience flow and become better faster.
Meditation can support a quiet eye as it helps you develop the ability to ignore distractions internally and externally. Use focused awareness as a way to develop the ability to concentrate on a single task.
Also, consider learning Yoga because one of the key ‘limbs’ of Yoga is Drishti. This means having a focused gaze while practicing yoga poses. This helps you achieve balance, stay present, and enter the practice more fully.
As you work through different activities, you’ll find that your ‘quiet eye’ becomes more pronounced and easier to call on when you need it.
There you have it, you’ve now looked at how to develop your quiet eye technique to boost your focus with a special focus on improving your physical skills. Although the use of the quiet eye technique has revolved around sports and motor skill activities like surgery, it’s possible to use it in other areas too.
If you want to learn a new skill and absorb information, try to keep your head level and to keep your eyes trained on a certain meaningful spot in the process. Note any improvements in your learning ability and use the quiet skill to grow in every area of your life.