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Can Vision Training Improve Batting Performance?

Batting in baseball is a skill that requires exceptional hand-eye coordination. Due to this common concept, there is a general consensus that vision training is beneficial to hitting performance. However, there is little to no valid assessment to prove this belief in literature. The study, “High Performance Vision Training Improves Batting Statistics For University of Cincinnati Baseball Players”, set out to prove that traditional vision training can improve batting and hitting performances.The Study was done at the University of Cincinnati on the 2011 baseball team. Six weeks prior to their 2011 season, the team was introduced to vision training which consisted of 20-30 minute sessions 3 times a week. Within these sessions the athletes experienced 8 different types of vision training.

Dynavision

Dynavision involves a large board with various lights scattered throughout it. The lights light up, and the athlete must hit the light that illuminates. This was done in two series of one minute sessions. The device was able to record the number of hits per minute, and the reaction time of each player

Brock string

Brock string is simple eye exercise to condition the eye and lens muscles. Athletes are given a string with three balls spaced out along it. They must hold the end of the string to their nose, and have a team mate hold the other end away from them parallel to the ground. For one minute the participant must focus on the first ball, the second ball, and so on, and then work their way back to the first ball.

Eyeport

Eyeport is the digital version of the Brock String exercise. It is used as a warm up for extra ocular eye muscles.

 Tachistoscope

A tachistoscope is a device that displays an image for a certain amount of time. Projection tachistoscopes use a slide equipped with the mechanical shutter system just like a camera. For the training, a shutter speed was selected, and the shutter was tripped normally. the participant then must call out when they recognize the specified image. This was used to improve object recognition in the visual field, like the ball out of a pitchers hand.

Rotary

Rotary is a set of letters and numbers placed on a spiral rotating poster. This poster rotates at different speeds and directions. The players must call out and point a laser at the correct letter or number. This is done in one minute sessions.

Strobe Glasses

Strobe glasses are glasses with LEDs in the lens that flash at varying speeds. These lens’s blind the batter for split seconds at a time, making life look like it is happen through a strobe light. The slower the flashes the harder it is to take in visual information. Players wore these during batting practice, as they got more advanced the strobe speed would slow down. This helps athletes to predict movement, and to take in as much visual information as possible.

Sasscades

Sasscades is a voluntary rapid movement of both eyes in the same direction from one object to another. Charts of random letters are placed on a wall, both horizontally and vertically. Players stand at varying distances and focus from one chart to another, similar to a general eye test. This is also done for one minute

Near Far Training

Near and Far training has the same concept as sasscades except the charts are put at two separate distances. The players eyes have to adjust to depth as well as left to right.

After the 2011 season was completed the teams statistics were compared to the remaining teams in the conference, as well as their previous 2010 season statistics. The data were analyzed using a simple t-test statistic to compare the difference in change for Cincinnati compared to the other Big East conference teams. An underlying normal distribution for the baseball statistics, batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage was assumed.

Results showed that the Cincinnati team batting average increased from 0.251 in 2010 to 0.285 in 2011. This change in batting average was statistically significant with a p-value of 0.02. The slugging percentage of University of Cincinnati increased by 0.033 while Big East’s conference slugging percentage fell over that same time frame by 0.082.This produces a difference of 0.115 which is also Statistically significant (P=.02).  Also, on base percentage increased for Cincinnati, rising by 0.034 points. Where as the Big East Conference on base percentage fell by 0.034. This difference of 0.068 was, again, statistically significant p<0.01.

In conclusion, vision training can combine traditional and technological methodologies to train the athletes’ eyes and improve batting. Vision training as part of conditioning may improve batting performance in college baseball players.

As for my own experiences with visual training, as a youth player, my coaches used to toss tennis balls to us with various letters printed on them. Our task was to yell out the correct letter while making contact with the ball. I also did this as a high school athlete on a more advanced level. I was introduced to this machine that shot out tennis balls with minimal rotation. This allowed players to read the letters while taking batting practice off game speed pitching. Both were extremely beneficial to me in my self-efficacy perception in hitting.

Other drills you can try with your players to increase hand eye coordination are:

  1. Soft tossing golf sized whiffle balls. You can make this more advanced by requiring your players to swing with a wooden dowel.
  2. Numbering and lettering tennis balls in soft toss as mentioned above.
  3. Drop toss- have a player stand on a slightly elevated surface and drop a ball into the strike zone of a hitter. The hitter must try and hit the ball as it drops to the ground.
  4. Back toss- have a player front toss to a batter from behind her. The batter must track the ball as it comes in from the opposite direction as normal, and time her swing to hit it square.
  5. Frisbee drill- Have the pitcher throw the batter a Frisbee instead of a real ball. The Frisbee tends to move and switch direction, this will help the batter predict movement of the object and react quickly.

Quote of the day: 

Practice is putting brains in your muscles”

References:

  • Clark, J. F., Ellis, J. K., Bench, J., Khoury, J., & Graman, P. (2012). High-Performance Vision Training Improves Batting Statistics for University of Cincinnati Baseball Players. Plos ONE, 7(1), 1-6. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029109

About smarcia12

I am a Sports Psychology graduate student who is more than passionate about the world of sport psychology. I not only strive to better the sports world, but all aspects of life! Sport psychology is so applicable to everyday life, it's amazing!

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