Professional baseball batters’ (N = 105) visual anticipation of pitch type and location were measured using a video-based temporal occlusion test and correlated with their baseball batting statistics. Participants watched in-game footage of skilled baseball pitchers that was temporally occluded at the point of ball release, and at 80 ms and 200 ms after ball release. Participants made written predictions of pitch type and location. Results indicated there was a significant positive correlation between anticipation of combined pitch type and location 80 ms after ball release with slugging percentage (r = .21). There was a significant negative correlation between anticipation of pitch type alone 200 ms after ball release and strikeouts (r = −.28), indicating higher prediction is associated with fewer incorrect swing choices. Furthermore, there was a significant positive correlation between anticipation of pitch type alone 200 ms after ball release and on-base percentage (r = .23) as well as walk-to-strikeout ratio (r = .25). These small relationships are consistent to the batting statistics we predicted and can be due to the range of competitive levels in the leagues the participants had played. The findings further theoretical and applied knowledge of the role visual anticipation contributes to baseball batting game performance. The findings also suggest that game footage can be used to assess and potentially to train visual anticipation skill, which is highly valuable for athletes and high performance support staff in sporting organizations.
Khaya Morris-Binelli, Sean Müller and Peter Fadde
Juanita Weissensteiner, Bruce Abernethy, Damian Farrow and Sean Müller
The link between the anticipation skills of cricket batsmen and their practice histories was examined. Skilled and lesser skilled batsmen of U15, U20, and adult age completed a temporal occlusion task, in which they were required to use prerelease kinematic information to predict the type and length of delivery being bowled, and a structured interview, in which their accumulated hours of experience in organized and unorganized sporting activities were estimated. Skilled adult and U20 players showed an ability to use prerelease kinematic information to anticipate ball type that was not evident among any other group, and skilled players of all ages were distinguishable in terms of their accumulated hours of cricket-specific experience. Hours of cricket-spe-cific practice, however, explained only a modest percentage of the variance in anticipatory skill. Discussion focuses upon future refinements to the measurement of anticipation and practice history plus the role that variables other than the quantum of cricket experience may play in developing anticipation.
Sean Müller, Yasmin Gurisik, Mark Hecimovich, Allen G. Harbaugh and Ann-Maree Vallence
Training studies in a variety of domains focus on between-group comparisons. This study investigated individual differences in learning based upon visual anticipation training using field hockey goalkeeping as the exemplar motor skill. In a within-subject design, four state-league level field hockey goalkeepers were tested before and after visual anticipatory training in an in-situ test that required them to save goals from a drag flick. Response initiation time and response accuracy were measured. Participants were tested at baseline, completed a control phase of sport-specific practice, were retested, then given an intervention phase of temporal occlusion training plus sport-specific practice, and retested. Results indicated that two goalkeepers’ response initiation times were earlier after the intervention. Effect sizes indicated that the two goalkeepers improved response accuracy after the intervention. Another goalkeeper’s response initiation time was later after the intervention, but this did not impede response accuracy of goals saved. The mechanism of individual learning appeared to be modulation of response timing to save goals. Anticipation training can improve in-situ visual-perceptual motor skill performance in an individualized and nonlinear fashion. Further research is needed to better understand how each individual learns the visual-perceptual motor skills of high time-stress tasks in the sport domain.