Visual Skills to Help You Improve in Motorsports

Motorsport  is a global term used to encompass the group of competitive sporting events which primarily involve the use of motorized vehicles, whether for racing or non-racing competition. It can also be used to describe forms of competition of two-wheeled motorized vehicles (i.e., motorcycle racing)  as well as off-road racing conducted in off-road environments such as sand, mud, riverbeds, snow or other natural terrains.

There are a number of visual skills that are necessary for a driver to interact competitively in a race environment. These skills can be assessed and with training by a Sports Vision & Performance Professional, improvement can be observed and translated to more confident and effective race performance.

Following are some of these dynamic visual and mental skills for Motorsports.

Accommodation and Convergence

Accommodation is the ability to change focus immediately as objects, such as cars, move closer to, or farther away from you, or when you switch from distant to near focus such as from the circuit to the instrument panel of the car. Convergence is the ability to keep both eyes working in unison as they track other cars that are moving rapidly in your environment. These are two separate skills that must work together to achieve good, clear vision.

Anticipation Timing

The visual system provides you with the information needed to act, as well as the information needed to judge when to act. Doctors estimate that up to 80 percent of perceptual input in sports comes from the eyes. Timing, however, is the key to effective performance.  To succeed, you need to make the right physical movements at the right time. The activities, and even superior speed, size and reflexes cannot compensate for faulty processing of visual information regarding when to perform.


Concentration is defined as the ability to maintain a high level of focus while driving competitively at the limits of your ability, in spite of distractions, and while maintaining total awareness of what is happening all around you. This is not to be confused with staring, which is just another form of distraction. Staring means the eyes are not focused but are in fact disassociated from the race and represents total loss of concentration with little or no sharp awareness of what is going on around you.  This phenomenon may show up in the form of Brain Fade (a temporary inability to concentrate or think clearly).

Depth Perception

A driver’s ability to instantly and accurately judge distance, speed, and dynamics of objects (i.e., cars) is crucial to the timely execution of maneuvers.

Dynamic Visual Acuity

This may be defined as "vision in motion", or the ability to see, interpret and react immediately to a rapidly moving object while you are also in motion. This, obviously, is what is happening during the course of a race.

Eye-Hand Coordination/The Visual System Leads The Motor System

The “eyes lead, the body follows”, not the other way around. Our hands, feet or body respond to the information the eyes have sent to the brain. If this information is incorrect, even to the slightest degree, there is a good chance of error in our physical response. Many driver errors, or poorly executed maneuvers, can be attributed to faulty visual judgement, and it is visual judgement alone that determines eye-hand coordination.

Peripheral Awareness

Peripheral awareness is not to be confused with peripheral vision, which is relatively unchangeable. You can enhance peripheral awareness, or your ability to maintain an awareness of what is happening around you during a race while keeping your concentration on the relevant field and race in front of the car. A well-developed peripheral field will help you to see everything at once, to maintain the whole pattern, to sense the flow of the race as it constantly changes

Speed and Span of Recognition

Any increase you can achieve in recognizing a visual stimulus has a very special effect in terms of your overall competitive performance. It drives the physical impulses to a better reflex level. The reflex action becomes more automatic and requires less processing time. As a result, your physical response becomes much quicker, more accurate and more efficient.

Work on correcting these errors to improve your performance

Errors of Omission: Situations in which you did not or forgot to form an intention and therefore did not do what should have been done before a race or in a race.

Errors of Commission: These include actions you carried out that were wrong in one of two ways:

  • Forming an intention: A situation in which you decided to do something, and it was done correctly and with good timing, but it was the wrong thing to do under the circumstances.
  • Performing an intention: A situation in which you made a correct decision, but it was done at the wrong time.

©2019, Dynamic Visual Skills for Sports, International Sports Vision Association and DeAnn Fitzgerald, OD.