Spatial awareness plays an important role in the daily life, especially on some particular groups such as the autistic people and the professional athletes. There is no doubt that it is useful and significant for people in any ages, because we are constantly using this cognitive ability. Spatial perception affects how we focus and understand our body’s relationship to the environment. For example, most of autistic children lack of this ability and some meaningful and purposeful programs are set up for them to discover this ability, therefore helping them cognize the surrounding world. By doing this, these children are able to perceive themselves and explore the new world the same way as the ordinary people.
In the field, it is still an essential element for achieving the significant performance. It is true that the difference between victory and defeat is often very small, for the athletes or coaches, their priority is maximizing the talent that they have. There are certain characteristics that all successful athletes have. Firstly, the ability to evaluate information and make the right decisions quickly. Secondly, the excellent balance and control of their bodies. Last but not least, good timing, the ability to execute quickly, precise movements and excellent peripheral vision.
All of these processes are dependent on keen-ˇwitted visual view and spatial perception or proprioception. (Proprioception can be defined as the awareness of movement and body position combined with the psycho-motor control necessary to execute the brain’s instructions to the body.) It is sometimes also defined as the body’s joint positioning system.
“There’s only one moment in which you can arrive in time. If you’re not there, you’re either too early or too late.”
According to James R. Lackner and Paul DiZio (2005), excellent spatial awareness is dependent upon the ability of the brain to integrate information from all of the sensory systems including feedbacks from muscles and joints, vision, the tactile sense (touch/pressure), and the sense of balance (vestibular system).
There is no doubt that exceptional athlete performance is highly related to the world-class spatial awareness on the court. Johan Cruyff, who is a professional football player and most famous exponent of the football philosophy from Netherlands. He states that do not run too much, you have to be in the right place at the right moment, not too early, not too late. The smartest and most creative basketball or soccer players normally read the game and play ahead of their opponents. They possess excellent intelligence, which allows them to predict how and where a play will unfold. They stay one step ahead of their opponents, and then pass the ball to the most appropriate teammate to attack weaknesses and set up effective scoring opportunities or defensive plays.
References: James R. Lackner and Paul DiZio (2005), VESTIBULAR, PROPRIOCEPTIVE, AND HAPTIC CONTRIBUTIONS TO SPATIAL ORIENTATION. available at :