Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Better batters from brain-training research: Baseball player study significantly improves vision, reduces strikeouts

February 17, 2014
University of California, Riverside
UC Riverside baseball players who participated in novel brain-training research saw significant improvement in vision, resulting in fewer strikeouts and more hits. The experiment demonstrated that improvements from a multiple perceptual-learning approach transfer to real-world tasks.

Four words no baseball player wants to hear: Strike three. You're out.

Related Articles

The University of California, Riverside's baseball team heard those words less frequently in the 2013 season after participating in novel brain-training research that significantly improved the vision of individual players and may have added up to four or five games to the win column.

The results of that study appear in a paper, "Improved vision and on-field performance in baseball through perceptual learning," published in the Feb. 17 issue of the peer-reviewed Current Biology.

Most studies of visual abilities focus on mechanisms that might be used to improve sight, such as exercising the ocular muscles. Improvements in vision resulting from those experiments typically do not transfer to real-world tasks, however.

A team of UCR psychologists -- professors Aaron Seitz and Daniel Ozer and recent Ph.D. graduate Jenni Deveau -- combined multiple perceptual-learning approaches to determine if improvements gained from an integrated, perceptual learning-based training program would transfer to real-world tasks.

They did.

Before the start of the 2013 NCAA Division 1 baseball season the UCR researchers assigned 19 baseball players to complete 30 25-minute sessions of a vision-training video game Seitz developed. Another 18 team members received no training. Players who participated in the training saw a 31 percent improvement in visual acuity -- some gaining as much as two lines on the Snellen eye chart -- and greater sensitivity to contrasts in light.

"The vision tests demonstrate that training-based benefits transfer outside the context of the computerized training program to standard eye charts," Seitz said. "Players reported seeing the ball better, greater peripheral vision and an ability to distinguish lower-contrast objects."

The researchers found that the trained players had 4.4 percent fewer strikeouts -- a decrease not experienced in the rest of the Big West Conference. The UCR team also scored 41 more runs than projected after controlling for skills improvements players would be expected to gain over the course of a season. Ozer arrived at this number by using the runs-created formula developed by baseball historian and statistician Bill James.

The longtime baseball fan then used the Pythagorean Winning Percentage formula, a statistical tool used by sabermetricians to compute a team's wins and losses based upon their runs scored and runs allowed, to estimate that the training resulted in as many as four or five more wins.

(The team had a season record of 22-32, but later was forced to vacate eight wins due to an ineligible player.)

UCR's year-over-year improvements were at least three times greater than the rest of the league in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, walks and strikeouts, the researchers determined.

"Elite baseball batters use various kinds of sensory information to be successful batters, but most weight is given to visual feedback," Seitz said. "This has motivated other vision-training approaches to focus on exercising the ocular muscles, producing mixed results. Our integrated training program is unique in that we focus on training the brain to better respond to the input it receives from the eyes and in that we examined both standard measures of vision as well as real-world performance in elite players. The improvements are substantial and significantly greater than that experienced by players in the rest of the league in the same year."

Baseball is a very visual game, and the ability of batters to tell the difference between pitches and ball speeds is critical, longtime UCR Head Baseball Coach Doug Smith said in explaining why he allowed his players to participate in the research. "I thought if this would help our players see more clearly we would have a chance to make a big breakthrough," he said.

Baseball players typically have excellent vision, so the extent of improvement surprised the researchers. After completing the vision-training program, some players' vision improved to 20/7.5. This means that what the average person can read at 7.5 feet away these players can read at a distance of 20 feet. Normal vision using the Snellen eye chart is 20/20. The UCR researchers said it's too early to know if changes in vision were solely responsible for the improved play or if brain-training combined with unmeasured factors bettered batting performance.

Smith was surprised, too.

"I didn't think we would see as much of an improvement as we did," he said. "Our guys stopped swinging at some pitches and started hitting at others. Their average strikeout total went down and batting went up. There is such a high percentage of failure in our game. Even the best players fail (to hit) 70 percent of the time. Everyone is looking for an edge to be that little bit better. Our guys are more confident now when they come to the plate."

The research results strongly suggest that an integrated approach to perceptual learning-based training has great potential to help not only athletes looking to optimize their visual skills but also individuals with low vision engaged in everyday tasks, the psychologists concluded.

"We use vision for many daily tasks, including driving, watching TV, or reading," Deveau said. "This type of vision training can help improve not only sports performance, but many of these activities in non-athletes as well."

Seitz, Deveau and Ozer are beginning a second year of study with the UCR baseball team and will add the UCR women's softball team to the research project this season.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California, Riverside. The original article was written by Bettye Miller. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Jenni Deveau, Daniel J. Ozer, Aaron R. Seitz. Improved vision and on-field performance in baseball through perceptual learning. Current Biology, 2014; 24 (4): R146 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.01.004

Cite This Page:

University of California, Riverside. "Better batters from brain-training research: Baseball player study significantly improves vision, reduces strikeouts." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140217121656.htm>.
University of California, Riverside. (2014, February 17). Better batters from brain-training research: Baseball player study significantly improves vision, reduces strikeouts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140217121656.htm
University of California, Riverside. "Better batters from brain-training research: Baseball player study significantly improves vision, reduces strikeouts." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140217121656.htm (accessed April 19, 2015).

Share This

More From ScienceDaily

More Computers & Math News

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

WikiLeaks Refuses To Let Sony Hack Die, Posts Database

WikiLeaks Refuses To Let Sony Hack Die, Posts Database

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) WikiLeaks&apos; Julian Assange says the hacked emails and documents "belong in the public domain." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Self-Powering Camera

Scientists Create Self-Powering Camera

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Apr. 17, 2015) American scientists build a self-powering camera that captures images without using an external power source, allowing it to operate indefinitely in a well-lit environment. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The State Of Virtual Reality

The State Of Virtual Reality

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Virtual Reality is still a young industry. What’s on offer and what should we expect from our immersive new future? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cybercrime Could Cost $400 Bln

Cybercrime Could Cost $400 Bln

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2015) Representatives from around 160 countries gather at the Hague to discuss cyber space and cyber security, including the dilemmas and challenges regarding the evolution of the internet. Ciara Lee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:

More Coverage

Learning to See Better in Life and Baseball

Feb. 17, 2014 With a little practice on a computer or iPad -- 25 minutes a day, 4 days a week, for 2 months -- our brains can learn to see better, according to a study of University of California, Riverside ... read more

Strange & Offbeat Stories

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins