VISUAL SEARCH STRATEGIES AND DECISION MAKING IN BASEBALL BATTING1

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Abstract

The goal was to examine the differences in visual search strategies between expert and nonexpert baseball batters during the preparatory phase of a pitcher's pitching and accuracy and timing of swing judgments during the ball's trajectory. 14 members of a college team (Expert group), and graduate and college students (Nonexpert group), were asked to observe 10 pitches thrown by a pitcher and respond by pushing a button attached to a bat when they thought the bat should be swung to meet the ball (swing judgment). Their eye movements, accuracy, and the timing of the swing judgment were measured. The Expert group shifted their point of observation from the proximal part of the body such as the head, chest, or trunk of the pitcher to the pitching arm and the release point before the pitcher released a ball, while the gaze point of the Nonexpert group visually focused on the head and the face. The accuracy in swing judgments of the Expert group was significantly higher, and the timing of their swing judgments was significantly earlier. Expert baseball batters used visual search strategies to gaze at specific cues (the pitching arm of the pitcher) and were more accurate and relatively quicker at decision making than Nonexpert batters.

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