Baseball and Vision Series: Pitching

The pitcher is arguably the most important position on the field, and clearly it is important that the pitcher have a “keen eye”.  What is meant by a “keen eye”?  The pitchers primary responsibility is to earn a “strike”.  This involves putting an approximately 9 inch circumference ball with a velocity preferably north of 75 mph into a leather glove 60 feet 6 inches away within an approximately 18″ to 24″ zone above the batters knees and below his shoulders.  Put that way, it makes it sound a hell of a lot more visually demanding than it looks on TV!

Two visual skills working together are crucial for the pitcher to achieve the feat of throwing a strike; visual acuity, or the ability to see the target clearly, and arm-wrist-finger-eye coordination, or the ability to use their arm, wrist and fingers to send the ball along the trajectory calculated as necessary to achieve the strike by the pitchers vision.  These skills are accomplished when the visual system sends information about  the location of the strike zone that the motor cortex of the brain takes cues from.  On the front side of the wind-up, subtle adjustments in the arm, wrist and fingers of the pitcher make final adjustments in the hopes of improving the accuracy of the pitch.

These skills can be honed by training; the more the act of pitching is repeated, the better the skill becomes, and a pitcher’s game can go downhill if the status of their vision changes.

The other visual skill important for pitchers is peripheral vision.   The pitcher needs to attend to the catcher, while at the same time try to inhibit the ability of runners to steal bases.  Peripheral vision can be increased by training as well.

Courtesy of the Doctors at Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care; Optometrists, Ophthalmologists and Opticians working together to help you see better.  Serving the Rockville, Potomac and Gaithersburg Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC for over 40 years. For more information visit youreyesite.com or call (301) 670-1212

Connect with us on Twitter @EyeInfo

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