Raiders see season clearly

The Canberra Raiders have employed a visual expert for the 2005 National Rugby League season, aiming to gain an edge in attack.

Sports optometrist Patrick Gerry had his second session with the Raiders today. He will continue to work with Raiders players throughout the 2005 season to try and fine-tune their eye coordination.

Gerry, who also works with AFL club the Brisbane Lions and the AIS/AFL Academy, said good eyesight was separate from good vision.

Gerry said a lot of sports people could see clearly, but he predicted about one third of them suffered depth perception problems and didn?t even know it.

He anticipated his exercises would help the Raiders players improve their eye coordination, therefore making them more confident in attack.

?My general summary of sports people is that 30 per cent of them will have some sort of depth perception problem,? Gerry said. ?You can obviously still make it to elite level with visual problems, but when you?re trying to find that little edge over the opposition, if you can eradicate common errors then hopefully you?ll find some improved performance on the football field.

?You talk to any footballer about making a mistake and it?s generally based around timing. Timing is simply interpreting what you see. So when guys make a mistake they are sometimes misinterpreting what they see. As a result they can mis-time a pass or mis-time running on to a ball.?

Raiders coach Matt Elliott expected the vision training would reduce handling errors, but he also wants it to create more opportunities for the Raiders in attack.

?It?s not just about eliminating errors you see in the stats book, it?s about reducing the number of poorly executed passes or catches. By eliminating those errors, you can take opportunities when they present themselves,? Elliott said. ?It?s just about trying to maximize the players? vision in combat circumstances.

?At the elite level you?re always looking for ways to improve performance and vision is something coaches often talk about. To practice it with some real expertise is a great opportunity.?