“Vision is a product of a very simple eye and a complex brain.”
I use this quote in every seminar I give because I want my students to gain a deeper appreciation of what vision is. Our eyes are simply a light receptor. Our brain does the dirty work.
I once sat down in a hotel lobby in Tucson, Arizona with a 1,700-page textbook called “Principles of Neural Science” and my task on that day was to begin the journey through that entire book and truly understand the brain. I wanted to start with the visual system because it was the most fun and interesting to read about. So, I opened to the section on vision and got to work.
A few hours in and I knew the answer. The only people that will know everything about the visual system are the people that dedicate their life to the craft. It’s hard. There’s a lot to know. Re-training an embedded patterned individual is a tall task and quite frankly, too much for anyone to know who is not striving to be a behavioral optometrist of sorts.
What I decided to do was understand how this system works. I wasn’t trying to learn it all but I wanted to know how it operates so that with the athletes I worked with, I could chip away at visual issues, reverse some patterns and find windows of opportunity that didn’t exist before these drills were introduced.
The visual system operates under the same premise as the other senses. It collects information about our environment and sends it to the brain which then processes what to do with that information.
There are two really important patterns that we tend to fall in. The first is that we tend to chronically get into central vision. Central vision is when you are looking at something specific. In these days of social media and cell phones, this is an overwhelming pattern we see everywhere.
The second is that we have adapted to a right to left reading pattern. Why are you not reading from right to left? It’s because you’ve built this pattern. The Torah from the Jewish faith is written from right to left which goes to prove that it is a learned pattern.
When vision becomes a problem, finding ways to remove these two patterns can give you that window of opportunity for change. The visual system will become un-patterned, albeit temporarily, and will allow a new change to start taking shape.
How do we do this? It’s not some big fancy exercise, it’s just reversing the pattern. Accessing your peripheral vision or reading something that is written backwards. That’s all it takes. It’s just a simple understanding of how this system works. It's about being deliberate and different.
Of course, as patterns become more embedded the less effective these simple solutions will become but the vision specialist will just have to find a way to do this on a much more complex scale.
This is a level of understanding far greater than most. You have to be willing to dive this deep, which, unfortunately, most are simply not. Regardless of how far you want to dive, these are the facts. The visual system has an incredibly important role in our life, our health and our performance. This is why I made it such an important part of the genMAX Seminar. Anyone who is committed enough to be there, has to come away with the answers. Not what is convenient for me to talk to you about.
At every genMAX seminar I teach, I tell my students, “My job is to tell you the truth, no matter if you want to hear it or not.”
Once you have a great understanding of things like the visual system and how your body deals with stress, then it's time to move into training for single leg stance. If you're getting these answers, you're well on your way to mastering the weight room.