Target Fixation is Good!

Target Fixation is Good!

Posted by Team Motorcycle on May 9th 2016

Vision is so basic to everyday life that it’s easy to overlook the eyes’ true potential. Eyes for the most part dart around, randomly picking up signals for us to direct our attention. Sight is the motorcyclist’s secret weapon. Consciously controlling vision leads to a higher level of skill and enjoyment.

From basic training through professional racing, riders are taught that vision is crucial to directional control. How many times have you heard someone say “just look where you want to go”? As if it was that simple.

For better or worse, if we focus on a certain spot while operating a vehicle we tend to head in that direction. This is called target fixation. The term is commonly associated with a failed attempt to avoid a crash. When a cornering rider misjudges too fast an entry speed, panic may cause them to stare at the guardrail rather than the exit. Their target fixation could draw them off line and off the road.

Target fixation is at the heart of directional changes. Not all directional changes are unexpected due to a loss of concentration. We must have a target to ride correctly. Controlling our gaze directs the body and motorcycle to arrive at precise locations on purpose.

Because of this emphasis to look where you want to go, riders may go overboard and lock their stare on the corner exit or a full block down the street. This results in giving up valuable surveillance of the peripheral environment. The fear of veering off line might cause resistance to breaking the target focus.

Move those eyes. The best riders systematically scan and sweep their full field of vision...constantly.

Scanning and sweeping in an orderly visual search pattern is the proper technique. Begin by choosing the right target. To do this you have to have a plan on where you want to go. Point your nose in that direction. As you focus on your target, scan and sweep your entire field of view using this pattern: straight ahead, sweep left, straight ahead, sweep right, straight ahead, check mirror, straight ahead, etc. Direct your eyes to look for road hazards and characteristics.

At first, this excessive movement of the eyes may take some effort. But over time it will become automatic. Don’t just assume that your vision will pick up vital information. Use it to proactively provide feedback so you can ride with full confidence.

Once you get good at eye control, you will develop an intuition of where both danger and enjoyment exist.

Do have any good target fixation stories or advice to share?