Baseball Vision

In the game of baseball, things happen fast. The higher levels you play, the faster it gets. And at the top, with the big boys in the MLB, things happen almost so fast that you can’t even see it. With pitchers like Justin Verlander, Brian Wilson, and Aroldis Chapman throwing fastballs at up to 105.1 mph, you can quite literally blink and miss it. Couple a pitcher’s ability to blow fireballs past a hitter in .395 seconds with their ability to come back with a changeup that seems to mosey in at 80 mph and it’s clear to see that hitters have their work cut out for them. That’s why so many hitters in the MLB log countless hours in the batting cages, studying opponent pitchers’ tendencies, and doing whatever they can to get an edge.

One such technique is pitch recognition, the ability to quickly determine the pitch thrown based on the rotation of the ball and appearance of the laces. But how can players practice such a thing without getting out on the field and facing live pitching?

Don’t worry. There’s an app for that.

Developed by scientists at the University of California Riverside, a new app called UltimEyes was created to help train batters’ brains to work better. In an effort to help “expand brain power,” the app shows a series of blurry, wobbly lines that overtime get closer and closer. By studying such lines, players can become better at distinguishing different lines and help make their vision more acute, which translates to being able to tell the difference between a slider and curveball, for example. UltimEyes was an instant success at California Riverside, helping their team score 42 more runs and earn five more wins than in their previous season. It was so successful, actually, that it made a believer of Coach Doug Smith, an admitted skeptic.

“I’m a bit of an older school guy, but I think if you don’t look at the science part of it when it’s staring you right in the face, you’re not very bright,” Smith said of the app and the process.

UltimEyes is available on the App Store via iTunes for $5.99. While that may seem like a hefty price for a single app, it seems a small price to pay to strengthen your brain and take your game to the next level.

For a look at the different pitches themselves, check out this article by ESPN also accounting the importance of pitch recognition.

Konnor Fleming

References:

New vision app helps baseball players keep eye on the ball. (2014, July 10). CBSNews. Retrieved July 15, 2014, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-vision-app-is-changing-the-game-for-baseball-players/

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