Gearing up for the 2015 sport season? 7m reports that preseason training camp is well underway for NFL teams across the country, college football fans are already buzzing about how their team is shaping up for the fall and the MLB season is in full swing. Needless to say, athletes and sports fans alike are busy this time of year. Though, one fact that many in the sports arena don’t often think about is that deaf and hard-of-hearing athletes actually have some advantages over hearing athletes on the field, court, track and pool.

For instance, imagine if you’re playing in an important basketball game, standing at the free-throw line, ready to take your shot and you don’t hear the crowd taunting you? Basketball fans know that creating a lot of noise when the opposing teams player is attempting to make a free throw is a good way to make them flustered and potentially miss.

In these kind of high-pressure situations athletes are often encouraged by their coaches to “tune it all out,” but any athlete will tell you that it is easier said than done. Deaf and hard-of-hearing athletes have a leg up on their peers because their deafness allows them to have that distraction-eliminating calmness that other athletes yearn for.

Out on the football field, using sign language as a form of communication between the players and coaches is a huge advantage. Being able to use sign language allows the coaches to quickly tell a player who to block or what play to execute, most likely, without the other team’s players or coaches being able to figure it out. An advantage of sign language for the players is not wasting precious time in the huddle informing every one of the next play. Instead, players can sign to one another from their position on the field, and quickly pass along the message without the other team’s knowledge.

One of the most interesting advantages for deaf and hard-of-hearing athletes is their strong visual awareness of their surroundings, commonly known as the sixth sense. Research shows that people who are deaf have better peripheral vision, a very valuable asset for any athlete. A deaf person’s other senses are heightened giving them the ability to be much more aware of their surroundings, wherever they may be.

As Major League Baseball continues throughout the summer and into fall, and the country begins to gear up for football-filled Sundays keep in mind the valuable assets that amazing deaf and hard-of-hearing players are turning their disability into an ability on and off the field with these unique advantages in the game.

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