How Baseball Players Prepare to Bat: Tactical Knowledge as a Mediator of Expert Performance in Baseball

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Sue L. McPherson Western Carolina University

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Clare MacMahon Victoria University

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Our understanding of the role of tactical knowledge in baseball batting preparation is scarce, thereby limiting training guidelines. We examined the verbal reports of baseball players and nonplayers when told to view different edited video sequences of a half-inning of baseball competition under different task conditions: to prepare to bat (problem solve); recall as much information as possible (intentional recall); or prepare to bat, with an unexpected recall (incidental recall). Separate mixed-model ANOVAs (Expertise X Instruction conditions) on verbal report measures indicated that nonplayers used general strategies for recalling baseball events and lacked the tactical skills to use such information for their upcoming times at bat. In contrast, players used baseball-specific strategies to encode and retrieve pertinent game events from long-term memory (LTM) to develop tactics for their upcoming times at bat and to recall as much information as possible. Recommendations for training tactical skills are presented as some players exhibited defciencies in the LTM structures that mediate batting decisions.

McPherson is with the Department of Physical Therapy, College of Health and Human Sciences, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC, and MacMahon is with Motor Learning and Skilled Performance, School of Human Movement, Recreation, and Performance, Victoria University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

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