Visual constraints and swing timing in softball batting: pitcher vs. pitching machine
|Year of publication
|Article in Periodical
|Magazine / Source
|Physical Activity Review
|MU Faculty or unit
|perception; visual cues; anticipation; perception-action coupling
|When players practice batting against a pitching machine, there are some visual constraints that can affect the movement behaviour of the batter due to the absence of visual information sources that are available in competition performance (pitcher motion). This study sought to compare the timing of softball swing phases whilst batting against a pitcher and a pitching machine. Semi-experienced batters were recorded using a high-speed camera (200 fps) hitting balls (same pitch type) when batting against a pitcher and a pitching machine. Results showed significant differences in specific phases of swing timing under both conditions and each player was affected individually, mostly in the movement initiation (heel of the front leg) and duration of leg on – forward swing initiation. Practice task constraints that removed information sources were shown to have affected batters in specific phases of their swing. Therefore, pitching machines should be used wisely, and coaches should be aware of issues of how the use of pitching machines can affect the softball swing, even with lower level softball players. Furthermore, analysing participants as a group, as opposed to assessing individual differences within the group, can lead to inaccurate results and interpretations individual player’s motor responses and behaviour can be affected in different ways.