Peripheral awareness is the ability to see action or objects that are not in your direct line of vision, but instead taking place on the sides of your vision.
Just think about when you are driving and you are focused on the car in front of you because traffic is starting and stopping very rapidly. Just because you are focused on the car in front of you, you still need to be aware of the cars on each side of you. Your peripheral awareness is what allows you to take in the movements of the cars on your sides without removing your focus on the action in front of you.
Peripheral awareness is important because it gives us a better idea of what is going on in the world around us, not just in front of us. It is a skill that is vital too because it allows us to react to movement just outside of our line of sight.
For instance, you are walking down a hallway looking straight down the hall when someone suddenly walks out of the door you are passing. Your peripheral awareness allows your body to react quickly to avoid running into the other person.
To keep their guard up and their game at it’s best, most athletes need good peripheral awareness. It not only helps to make them better players but also to avoid injury.
The ability to see the world going on around is really what peripheral awareness is all about. It is the opposite of having tunnel vision.
Eye Exercises to Improve Peripheral Awareness
One of the ways you can improve your peripheral awareness is through eye exercises. Eye exercises are designed to work the muscles of your eyes, just like sit-ups are designed to build the abdominal muscles. There are different exercises to help with different vision issues, but these should help with peripheral awareness.
Just like any exercises, the results aren’t immediate; you don’t do three crunches and lose 12 inches off of your waist. Just like any exercise, eye exercises should be slow, steady and consistent.
If you think your peripheral awareness is not as good as it should be, try this simple exercise. Turn on a television to a program with a lot of activity, something like a fast paced sporting event. Turn and look at the wall beside the television.
Now try to relax your eyes and let the one in closest to the TV take in the movements taking place on the screen without moving your head or changing your focus. Did you find this task difficult? Now try it with the other eye. If this is difficult for you to do, you may need to improve your peripheral awareness.
This exercise just requires a wall and a ball (like a tennis ball). Find a spot on the wall to look at just above eye level. Throw the ball against the wall, bouncing it from your right hand to your left hand and then back again. While you are throwing the ball you should be using your peripheral vision to understand where the ball is without looking directly at it.
It may take some practice to get your eyes to relax enough to be able to do this. You should try doing this 10 times. This is enough to give your eyes a workout without overworking them.
This is another exercise that requires only a wall and a ball. This time you will stand four to five feet from the wall, facing it. Select a spot just above eye level on the wall to focus on. Throw the ball over your head from one hand to the other without moving your head. Your peripheral vision will allow you to track the ball.
The ball will leave your peripheral vision when you begin tossing it high enough. This will cause your peripheral vision skills to gain speed as it tries to track the ball when it comes back into your field of vision. Again, try to do this exercise 10 times without looking at the ball.
Eye exercises should also be paired with proper eye nutrition. Did you know there are 17 essential vitamins, herbs and minerals that are necessary for optimum eye health? Check out the list and see how many of these you are eating every day. If you are lacking in them, try improving your diet. Make sure you are adding foods that are rich in these nutrients.
Peripheral awareness is one of the eye skills that is most necessary for our own safety. It allows us to prepare for objects and people that are approaching us. This could help you keep from having a side impact crash with another vehicle; it could keep you from getting hit by an errant frisbee at the park; or from taking a bad hit while on the court or field. Take the necessary steps to improve your peripheral awareness and you won’t regret it.