The Nats Vision Quest

Any article that comes out over the weekend has a chance of being missed and
this one by James Wagner of the Washington Post shouldn’t
be. It can be debated whether it is only interesting or if it is important.
Vision training sounds interesting, but how important is it? Logically we know
that hitting a baseball is all about reaction time. It is about how quickly the
brain can rely the message from the eyes to the body and then for the muscles
in the body to fire and react. The biggest part of aging, for anyone, is the
slowing down of reaction time. What is it that we learned in Drivers Ed. all
those years ago? That it takes six seconds for the human brain to react to
events on the road.

A Major League baseball player has
quicker and better reaction times than the average human, but the very best
baseball players have quicker reaction times than that. Here is a classic story on research
conducted on Babe Ruth that showed his brain processed information quicker. The
fact that Babe Ruth had much higher than average vision doesn’t mean that the
Nats doing vision training will turn their players into Babe Ruth. Ruth was
also a physical freak, but that fact that most of the time his body did what his
brain told it to made him great. You or I could go stand in the batter’s box
and command our bodies to hit a 90 MPH fastball, but it won’t happen.  

In 2006 Albert Pujols was run through the same sorts of test
as Ruth and it was found that he had the same type of vision and perception.
Again none of what the Nats are doing will turn their players into Pujols in
his prime. It stands to reason though that if this type of heightened vision
and perception is common in the very best to ever have played the game it can’t
hurt to try and improve it. Baseball is a game where every team is looking for
that next big advantage. Digging into the margins of marginal wins and always
trying to get a leg up on the competition. Vision training is an interesting
idea, and from reading the two articles on Ruth and Pujols one has to think
that there is some connection between vision, reaction time, and performance on
the field. 

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