The efficacy of a Visual Performance training software programme on South African cricketers. Africa Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport and Dance 2009. Vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 44-61 The issue of enhancing an already superior visual system in elite athletes has led to several investigations dealing with intervention programmes designed to enhance visual performance. The influence of visual skills enhancement programmes has been investigated (Coffey & Reichow, 1990 ;
Calder, 2005 ; Love, Kluka, & Young, 2006 ; Kluka & Love, 2006). Researchers (Kluka & Love, 2006 ; Kluka, Love, Covington, Bristow, & Allison, 2000) have reported that elite athletes, when compared to nonathletes, have superior visual abilities, measured through contrast sensitivity function, peripheral vision, visual reaction time, static visual acuity,
eye movements, visual concentration, visual recognition and static / dynamic balance. Practical limitations, however, involves applicability to athletes. Where geographical location is considered, access to such training is a factor.
A software programme was developed as an internet-based, self-administered intervention. Accessed through a personal computer with an internet link, the programme was designed to improve athlete’s visual abilities and decision making. The aim of this investigation was to determine the efficacy of the visual training software programme on selected cricket players. Thirty cricket players participated. Each player had at least 3 years of cricket playing experience. Participants were divided into 2 groups (E = 15) and (C = 15). Four phases of assessment were involved : (1) Series of preliminary visual assessments to establish testing protocol ; (2) Pre-training programme assessment (pretest) using six different visual skills tests and five different cricket-specific skill tests (baseline data) ; (3) Three-week training programme using the software programme or a placebo; (4) Post training assessment (post test) using 6 visual and 5 cricket-specific tests. All outcome variables were analyzed using a RM-ANOVA (group X time).
Where significant interaction (p < 0.05) effects were found, post-hoc analyses were performed (Tukey’s HSD). In all tests involving visual skills, E performances showed greater improvement when compared to C performances. The efficacy of the visual training software programme led to significant improvements in the performance of cricketers in almost all visual skills. In contrast, there was minimal to moderate improvement in all tests with the exception of the horizontal and vertical saccades in C. It was confirmed that the visual training software programme is suitable to use in the enhancement of selected visual and sport-specific skills in cricketers.