An overview of important vision skills for Football, broken down by position



While vision skills might not be something that comes to mind when thinking about the important skills for football players, there are a number of skills which are extremely important to high level performance, and improving these skills can provide an edge in performance. While there are many vision skills that are important for all players, for certain positions there are others which take on heightened importance.



    Quarterback                             Running-Back                              Receiver                                Line Backer


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Quarterbacks are best known for throwing the ball to the receivers, and that indeed requires several vision skills at high levels. However, there is more to being a successful quarterback than being able to make good throws, and thus, other vision skills which are important.

Important skills for a quarterback include:

  • Hand-eye coordination: It goes without saying that good hand-eye coordination helps improve a quarterback’s ability to handle and accurately throw the ball in high pressure moments.
  • Enhanced peripheral awareness: While the quarterback’s main job is to throw the ball, there is always much more going on during a play, and it’s vital that the quarterback have good peripheral vision so he can better evade tackles from opposing players, and to be aware of where his own teammates are.
  • Visual reaction time: Things happen quickly during a football play, and it’s vital that a quarterback be able to act quickly to spot an open player and make an accurate throw, as well as to avoid tackles by opposing players.
  • Depth perception and distance estimation: This is a vital skill for making long and accurate throws to a target which may also be moving.


The running back has a wide range of tasks in a football game. They have to be able to receive handoffs from the quarterback, rush the ball, function as a receiver to make catches, and also block when needed. Improvements in a wide range of vision skills can lead to significant improvements in in-game performance.

Important skills for a running back include:

  • Enhanced peripheral awareness: All of the running back’s roles require him to move up the field, so having a high degree of peripheral awareness is extremely important for evading opposing players and avoiding collisions with teammates.
  • Visual memory: Another part of the running back’s job is to know both his team’s plan for the play, and to be able to anticipate opposing positions in defense. Increased visual memory will give a running back increased ability to remember different plays, and improve his ability to know where to be--or where not to be.
  • Depth perception and distance estimation: Depth perception is always an important skill when trying to catch a ball being thrown from a great distance away. Distance estimation is a skill which also helps when attempting to make a catch, but in a dynamic sport like football, being able to quickly judge other distances, such as how far he is from the end zone or how far away opposing players are.
  • Visual reaction time: Especially in a sport with so much movement happening at once, it is important for a running back to be able to react to new visual stimuli, whether that be the ball or oncoming opposing players, is vital. Increasing a player’s reaction speed can give him an edge over the competition.


Receivers, often also called wide receivers, have one primary task: to catch passes thrown by the quarterback and score touchdowns. Improving vision skills which help in this primary task will make him a much bigger asset to the team.

Important skills for a receiver include:

  • Hand-eye coordination: An obviously important skill, superior hand-eye coordination will better be able to catch passes thrown from a long distance away.
  • Dynamic visual acuity: This is the skill which lets a player track a (moving) target while his himself is also moving. Very often receivers need to make a catch while on the run, and improving this skill will make a receiver perform better
  • Depth perception and distance estimation: With many other players on the field, and the ball flying in, it’s important for a receiver to be able to quickly and accurately judge exactly where and how far opposing players are, and it helps a receiver know just how far he is from the finish line.
  • Eye tracking and movement precision: The ball can’t be caught unless the receiver is able to effectively track the ball as it flies his way. Depending on the state of the play, eye tracking may also help keep track of the opposing team’s movement.


Linebackers are the main opposition to the receiver, with their job being to prevent them from completing the pass and running the ball toward the end zone. While it might not seem like visual skills are important to a linebacker doing his job, they can provide some important advantages to a player.
  • Depth perception and distance estimation: A linebacker needs to be able to quickly and accurately judge the distances between various players so he can make a tackle.
  • Visual reaction time: Things can happen very quickly during a football game, so it’s vital that a linebacker be able to instantly react to a visual stimulus.
  • Vision balance integration: With all the movement during a football play, balance is an overlooked skill. Staying upright while quickly changing directions or after knocking an opposing player aside gives the linebacker more options when it comes to stopping the enemy team from scoring.
  • Eye tracking and movement precision
  • Another skill which helps the player keep track of their opposite number, eye tracking helps the player’s chances to get to the opposing ball carrier and tackle him to prevent a score.



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Dr. Wernick

Dr. Nathaniel (Nat) Wernick, FCOVD, graduated from the Northeastern State University College of Optometry and was selected for Residency training at the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Optometry. As a Resident Optometrist, he specialized in Pediatrics, Vision Therapy, and Traumatic Brain Injury. He has advanced training in developmental optometry and is a Fellow of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (FCOVD).

Patients visiting Dr. Wernick will receive an in depth examination that extends beyond a comprehensive eye examination with a detailed look at ocular health, vision, contact lens fitting, prescription for eyewear, as well as developmental vision to screen for teaming skills, binocular vision, and visual processing. Dr. Wernick provides full-scope care to patients of all ages including diagnosis and treatment of conditions including red eyes, eye allergies, diabetic and hypertensive eye checks, glaucoma, macular degeneration, dry eyes, eye strain/headaches, and cataracts. Dr. Wernick's advanced training in developmental vision, makes him a sought after provider for pediatric patients, special needs, post concussion, post stroke and sports vision.

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