Eye color and athletic ability

3158106923_c9171e0b9e_zIt’s fun exploring all the different ways our body type or certain traits can influence our athletic ability. Yet hardly anyone pays attention to something like eye color when it comes to athleticism since eye color doesn’t suggest any obvious advantage, unlike height giving a basketball player an advantage in basketball, or the advantages of having an extra thick cranium in boxing.

And yet it appears that eye color does influence how well we perform at certain sports. How, I don’t know, but it is interesting to see what the science says about this. According to the Department of HPES/Crawford Gym, University of Louisville, KY:

Researchers investigating performance differences between light- and dark-eyed individuals have indicated that dark-eyed individuals perform better on reactive activities than light-eyed individuals. College students (61 men, 64 women) performed a forehand rally with different colored racquetballs. Eye color, sex, and total hits were recorded for each subject. Men scored significantly better with balls of each color than did women. Dark-eyed men performed better than other subjects and performance was better with blue balls than yellow or green balls.

There doesn’t seem to be any explanation for why this is, and more research is needed. Perhaps the color of the iris influences how much light reaches the retina, and so a blue-eyed person sees things slightly differently and this explains why they are worse at reactive activities compared to brown-eyed people? Even the color of the balls seems to be of significance, to the point I may consider using blue juggling balls.

A little more info from the University of Louisville:

Researchers continue to examine the distinctiveness of motor performance by dark- versus light-eyed individuals. Dark-eyed individuals generally perform better at reactive type tasks (boxing, hitting a ball, defensive positions in football, rotary pursuit), while light-eyed individuals perform better at self-paced tasks (bowling, golf, pitching baseballs). Subjects performed two tasks, rotary pursuit and ball tossing (with light and dark background). Eye color (light or dark) and accuracy of performance were recorded for each subject. No significant difference was found between eye color and performance on the pursuit rotor (reactive activity). A significant difference was found between men’s and women’s performance in throwing a ball (self-paced activity) at a light-colored background.

These are intriguing findings. Dark-eyed individuals better at boxing? It may be premature to apply whatever was learned from these studies, but it will be fun experimenting with different colored balls or objects while playing sports to see what happens. Just don’t start any fist fights with anyone to try to prove these findings.

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