Importance of vision for baseball players

Published on
February 25, 2022

Baseball is arguably one of the sports where great vision is most important. Sports vision therapy can help significantly at improving performance when it comes to playing baseball. A few of the visual skills baseball players should have are ocular motility, focusing abilities, eye teaming, peripheral awareness, dynamic visual acuity, visualization, and reaction time. 

 

Batter

In order to score runs, the batter must hit the ball into play (preferably not directly to an opposing player). A fastball traveling at 90 mph does not leave a lot of time to make a decision, the batter has milliseconds to react and decide whether or not to swing at the ball. For batters reaction time can mean the difference between a strike and a home run.
The following skills are important for batters:

  • Hand-eye coordination: Essential for hitting the ball at the right time while swinging the bat quickly.
  • Eye tracking and movement precision: For the batter to hit the ball correctly, he/she must track the ball as it approaches with extreme accuracy.

Pitcher

As a pitcher, you try to get the batter out either by striking them, while also being aware of other players trying to steal bases. The pitcher must throw the baseball with pinpoint accuracy, while at the same time making it as difficult for the batter to hit it as possible.
Pitchers should have the following skills:

  • Hand-eye coordination: For a pitcher, hand-eye coordination is crucial; he must be able to throw the ball with enough power and movement to get it to the plate and accomplish what he wants. The pitcher may also be required to field the ball, so this skill is useful for other purposes.
  • Vision-balance integration: A pitcher throws the ball with his entire body as he stands on one leg. Improved balance will enhance his pitch delivery, allowing him to recover and react faster should the ball be hit his way.
  • Peripheral awareness: The pitcher must have an expanded awareness of the bases in order to detect if an opposing player is trying to steal a base. 

Outfielder

Outfielders have a lot to manage. They’re responsible for dealing with anything hit into the outfield, whether in the air or on the ground. An outfielder also has to throw the ball back into the infield, often quickly and with accuracy.
Important skills for an outfielder include:

  • Contrast sensitivity: During a baseball game, the weather conditions can change, so being able to see the small flying white ball against a white or light blue sky is crucial for an outfielder.
  • Depth perception and distance estimation: An outfielder must make split-second decisions regarding the path they need to take in order to catch the ball. A spectacular catch or a base hit depends on an ability to determine distances quickly.

Catcher

The catcher must be aware of what is going on on all the bases as well as catch and throw the ball.
The following skills are essential for a catcher:

  • Enhanced peripheral awareness: A catcher can spot attempted base steals much more easily if his peripheral awareness is enhanced, giving him an edge in throwing the runner out.
  • Visual reaction time: Catchers must react quickly to visual stimuli, such as an incoming pitch or a baserunner attempting to steal. Developing this skill will enable a catcher to become an even bigger defensive asset for his/her team.

Infielder

Infielders need to have extremely high levels of precision and quick reaction times to field a ground ball or line drive or to throw accurately to a base.
An infielder should have the following skills:

  • Depth perception and distance estimation: Since an infielder only has a short amount of time to react, an improved sense of how far the ball is can greatly enhance his/her ability to reach it.
  • Focusing: Infielders must be able to quickly switch from near vision activity, such as fielding a ground ball cleanly, to far vision activity, such as throwing accurately to first base.

 

Schedule a sports vision evaluation today

Make an appointment with Dr. McBryar if you are serious about gaining an edge on the competition. In the evaluation, Dr. McBryar will evaluate the visual skills that you use in your sport and identify the visual skills that will give you the edge over your competition. Sports vision training is tailored to the visual skills that will enhance your game in the specific sport and position that you play. Weekly training sessions are done in our office in Hixson (near Chattanooga), one on one with a vision therapist. Daily exercises are performed at home in addition to the in office therapy. A study at the University of Cincinnati showed an increase of over 10% on all batting parameters after sports vision training.  

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