An overview of important vision skills for Baseball, broken down by position

Baseball

With its wide range of positions, and with a small ball, baseball requires the use of a wide range of vision skills, whose importance will vary to some extent depending on one’s position.

                                                                          

     Batter                       Pitcher                    Outfielder                  Catcher              Outfielder

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Vision Skills Required for the Various Position

 

Batter

As anyone familiar with baseball knows, the batter’s job is to hit the ball into play (preferably not directly to any opposing player) and enable his team to score runs. In order to accomplish this task, he has to be able to hit a ball only a couple inches in diameter which is being thrown toward him from just over 60 feet away at speeds sometimes exceeding 100 miles per hour. To make matters worse, the ball can have various types of movement as it speeds toward him, and the time a batter has to react and decide whether or not to swing is measured in milliseconds.

Important skills for a batter include:

  • Hand-eye coordination: Vital to be able to quickly swing the bat to hit the speeding ball at the right moment.
  • Eye tracking and movement precision: The batter can’t hit the ball if he can’t properly track it as it approaches.
  • Contrast sensitivity: In order to effectively track the ball’s approach, the batter must be able to see the ball against whatever is behind it.
  • Visual reaction time: Of course, nothing else matters if the batter isn’t able to react quickly enough to the visual stimuli of the approaching ball.
  • Dynamic visual acuity: This skill gives us the ability to track objects while they are in motion, so it is vital as the batter follows the ball’s approach so he can decide whether or not to swing.
  • Depth perception: Another important skill for a batter, increased depth perception will enable him to more quickly and accurately assess a moving object’s speed.

Pitcher

Pitchers are the main enemy of the batter, as they attempt to get them out either via a strikeout or a hit right to a fielder. While the pitcher’s objective is very different, however, visual skills are also vital to their success as well. The pitcher must throw the baseball with pinpoint accuracy to the small target of the catcher’s mitt, and at the same time, make it as difficult as possible for the batter to hit.

Important skills for a pitcher include:

  • Visualization: Being able to visualize yourself doing something does help you actually making it happen, and, with pitching being a complex art, it is very helpful in maintaining pinpoint control.
  • Hand-eye coordination: The importance of hand-eye coordination for a pitcher is obvious; he needs to be able to throw the ball with the right amount of power and movement to get it to the plate and do what he wants it to. Additionally, since the pitcher sometimes also has to field the ball, this skill has other applications.
  • Vision-balance integration: When a pitcher throws the ball, the entire body is involved in the motion, and they end up standing only on one leg. Improved balance will help his pitch delivery, and give them a better chance to quickly recover and react should the ball be hit his way.
  • Enhanced peripheral awareness: A less obvious vision skill for a pitcher, peripheral vision enables them to better keep track of any runners on base, so he can prevent them from attempting to steal a base--and to potentially pick off a runner. Better peripheral vision is also always helpful for fielding in general.

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. Especially with fly balls, there is a lot that goes into tracking it and making the catch. 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: Weather conditions can vary during a baseball game, so being able to pick out the small, flying, white ball against the sky no matter the conditions is extremely important for an outfielder.
  • Eye tracking and movement precision: The ability to accurately track the moving ball as it flies through the air on its way down is obviously extremely important for an outfielder.
  • Hand-eye coordination: Another obviously important skill, improved hand-eye coordination gives an outfielder a better chance of making those tough (occasionally diving) catches, and throwing the ball back into the infield accurately.
  • Depth perception and distance estimation: More than having to merely catch the ball, an outfielder must make split-second decisions regarding the path they need to take to make the catch. This requires an advanced ability to rapidly determine distances, and can make the difference between a spectacular catch or a base hit.
  • Dynamic visual acuity: This is another skill which enables the outfielder to track the flying ball while it, and he, is moving.

Catcher

The catcher occupies a unique role on a baseball team, with his primary role being to coordinate pitching strategy with the pitcher, and to catch (or at least block) everything the pitcher throws. In addition, the catcher has to keep an eye on any baserunners, so he is ready to act if one tries to steal a base.

Important skills for a catcher include:

  • Enhanced peripheral awareness: While his main focus has to be on the pitcher and the 90+ mile per hour baseball speeding his way, a catcher must always keep an eye on any opposing runners on base. Enhancing peripheral vision will increase a catcher’s ability to spot attempted base steals, giving him extra precious moments to try and throw the runner out.
  • Hand-eye coordination: While this skill is important for every player on the field, only the catcher has to routinely catch pitches that can exceed 90 or even 100 miles per hour. If he fails to catch the thrown pitch, which, in addition to any planned movement on the part of the pitcher, can move further if a mistake is made, it can be disastrous, so quick reaction time is essential.
  • Eye tracking and movement precision: This is another skill which greatly helps a catcher track the oncoming pitch.
  • Visual reaction time: Much of what a catcher does requires split-second reactions to visual stimuli, be it the incoming pitch or a baserunner attempting to steal. Improving this skill will give a catcher the edge required to become an even bigger defensive asset to his team.
  • Focusing: Improved focusing ability allows a player to do tasks that require quickly shifting between near vision, such as catching the thrown pitch and pulling it out of the glove in preparation to throw, to far vision, such as making an accurate throw to catch the runner trying to steal a base.

Infielder

An infielder’s tasks require extremely high levels of precision and quick reaction times, whether to field a sharply hit ground ball or line drive, or to make an accurate throw to a base.

Important skills for an infielder include:

  • Depth perception and distance estimation: With so little time to decide what to do, an enhanced ability to judge how far the ball is can go a long way toward ensuring an infielder can get to it and make the play.
  • Focusing: Getting to the ball is only part of the task. An infielder must also be able to rapidly shift from focusing on near vision work, such as cleanly fielding a ground ball, to far vision work, such as making an accurate throw to first base.
  • Hand-eye coordination: It goes without saying that elite hand-eye coordination is required for an infielder to cleanly field ground balls moving at very high speeds, and to be able to smoothly get the ball to his throwing hand and make accurate throws.
  • Enhanced peripheral awareness: Depending on where the ball is hit, the infielder’s first glimpse of it might be via his peripheral vision. If his peripheral vision is at an optimum level, it can give him an extra moment with which to react and get to the ball. Peripheral vision also helps when an infielder needs to hold an opposing runner on base, as well as being aware of where the base, and other players on the infield, are.
Dr. McBryar cartoon

Up Your Game

In one recent study, it was found that 77% of major league baseball players had vision greater than 20/20, but there is more to vision than this.

Another study, done with the University of Cincinnati baseball team, showed that after only six weeks of vision training, there were drastic improvements among the players. The team batting average rose by 34 points, a greater improvement than that of other teams in the league, while errors decreased by 15%. In a very competitive league, this level of improvement can mean the difference between a mediocre season and a championship one.

Book an Appointment

 

Dr. McBryar

Dr. Heather McBryar leads the sports vision program at Amplify EyeCare Chattanooga, providing sport specific neuro-visual training to athletes from beginners to elite. As part of the Sports Vision program, a sports vision doctor can prescribe a wide variety of training and activities that help boost every athletes’ performance.

Dr. Heather McBryar is a Fellow of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD), a candidate for Fellowship in the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association (NORA), and a Diplomate of the American Board of Optometry (ABO). She has lectured extensively on the topics of neuro-optometric rehabilitation and low vision.

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  • Vision therapy is well worth the response, time and effort. Our Son had a hard time focusing and writing neatly. After vision therapy Seth could complete a task in half the time if previously took. His abilities to focus improved greatly and so did his handwriting.

    Also, he was better at listening. As a parent, we wanted learning to be fun for our Son, and vision therapy made this possible.


    Amanda T.

  • Vision Therapy is well worth the expense, time and effort. Our son had a hard time focusing handwriting neatly. After vision therapy Seth could complete a task in half the time it previously took his abilities to focus and improved greatly and so did his handwriting.

    Also, he was better at listening. As a parent you wanted learning to be fun for our son and vision therapy made this possible.


    Alexa H.

  • Vision Therapy has given or son the tools he needs to be able to scan and read the written word more effectively and efficiently.

    He love working with John and these working sessions give him the motivation to gladly work on his homework assignments.

    It amazed us to see the difference in the tracking of his eyes and along a line of it's from the beginning to the end of the treatment.

    Dr. McBryar , Kristen and John  are all marvelous and we would recommend them to anyone I only wish that we would have found them sooner!


    Charlotte M.

  • Prior to coming to the institute for vision development my son complained of daily headaches. Therapy has eliminated his headaches completely. I love knowing my son is able to learn pain-free for the rest of his life because of the work that has been done over just a few weeks in this office. He he absolutely loved coming that didn't even feel like going to a doctor or therapy. We are grateful for the relief he was able to find by coming here.

    Thank you!


    Olivia C.

  • Seems much less frustrated with life

    Reads non-stop and fast

    Spelling abilities have been hugely improved

    Seems much more confident

    Thank You!!!


    Kelly O.

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