A visuomotor skill (eye-hand visual-motor reaction time [EH-VMRT]) important for baseball performance is described. Eye-hand visual-motor reaction time represents the integration of visual information, perceptually based decisions, and motor movements to accomplish a specific task. The speed at which this occurs depends on many factors, some visual, some perceptual, and some motor related.
The purpose of this study was to describe the EH-VMRT ability and evaluate its relationship to the baseball batting performance of professional baseball players.
A commercially available EH-VMRT system was used on 450 professional baseball players. Results were retrospectively compared with standard, career, plate discipline metrics.
Statistically significant correlations were found between the EH-VMRT metrics and plate discipline batting metrics. Better EH-VMRT ability also correlated with longer service in, and likelihood to achieve, the major-league level. The better (top 20%) EH-VMRT group had three fewer at bats before gaining a walk (22% decrease), as well as swinging 10 to 12% less often at pitches outside the strike zone and 6 to 7% less often at pitches in the strike zone as compared with the bottom 20% group. In addition, EH-VMRT displays a threshold-like relationship with the ability to gain a walk.
These results describe the EH-VMRT ability of professional baseball players and show a significant relationship between the EH-VMRT ability and batting performance. These results may suggest a possible role in player selection, indicating that batters with better EH-VMRT may be more likely to reach the major-league level and be more productive for their team. Further studies will be needed to demonstrate whether training better EH-VMRT results in improved batting performance.