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Rob Gray; How do baseball batters use “where” and “when” information?. Journal of Vision 2001;1(3):132. doi: 10.1167/1.3.132.
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Previous research has identified multiple sources of visual information available to a batter when estimating where a pitch will be and when it will be there. The question of how this information is used to control the complex motor responses involved in hitting remains largely unresolved. Experienced baseball players swung a baseball bat equipped with a position tracker at simulated approaching baseballs. Simulated pitch speeds ranged from 65 to 80 mph and were chosen randomly. For all batters the spatial and temporal swing errors were related to the pitch speed: there was a strong tendency for batters to swing over the ball at slow speeds and too late at fast speeds. The swing duration was roughly constant for different pitch speeds. These findings suggest that our batters used a strategy of initiating a constant duration swing when the ball reached a constant distance (or constant angular size) from the plate. We propose that this strategy arises from two perceptual-motor constraints faced by the batter: (i) the accuracy of the perceptual information available for hitting depends on when it is used and (ii) the complex kinetic link involved in swinging a bat contains many components that cannot be modified by visual information after they have been initiated.
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