Visual abilities distinguish pitchers from hitters in professional baseball

This study aimed to evaluate the possibility that differences in sensorimotor abilities exist between hitters and pitchers in a large cohort of baseball players of varying levels of experience. Secondary data analysis was performed on 9 sensorimotor tasks comprising the Nike Sensory Station assessment battery. Bayesian hierarchical regression modelling was applied to test for differences between pitchers and hitters in data from 566 baseball players (112 high school, 85 college, 369 professional) collected at 20 testing centres. Explanatory variables including height, handedness, eye dominance, concussion history, and player position were modelled along with age curves using basis regression splines. Regression analyses revealed better performance for hitters relative to pitchers at the professional level in the visual clarity and depth perception tasks, but these differences did not exist at the high school or college levels. No significant differences were observed in the other 7 measures of sensorimotor capabilities included in the test battery, and no systematic biases were found between the testing centres. These findings, indicating that professional-level hitters have better visual acuity and depth perception than professional-level pitchers, affirm the notion that highly experienced athletes have differing perceptual skills. Findings are discussed in relation to deliberate practice theory.
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Subjects: baseball playing position (sport games) eye visualization sensorimotor function
Notations: sport games
DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2017.1288296
Published in: Journal of Sports Sciences
Published: 2018
Volume: 36
Issue: 2
Pages: 171-179
Document types: article
Language: English
Level: advanced