The Speed of Perception: The Effects of Over-Speed Video Training on Pitch Recognition in Collegiate Softball Players

Abstract: During interceptive motor tasks, experts demonstrate distinct visual search behavior (from novices) that is reflective of information extraction from optimal environmental cues, which subsequently aids anticipatory movements. While some forms of visual training have been employed in sport, over-speed video training is rarely applied to perceptual–cognitive sport contexts. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether over-speed video training can enhance visual information processing and augment visual behavior for a pitch-recognition task. Twelve collegiate softball players were recruited for the study. A between-subjects, repeated measures design was implemented to assess changes in participants’ pitch recognition on a video-based occlusion task after one of two training interventions: (A) over-speed video training (n = 6) or (B) regular video training (n = 6). Both training interventions required individuals to view 400 videos of different pitches over the span of 10 days. The over-speed group viewed the videos at gradually increasing video speeds (+ 0.05 × each day). Performance (i.e., identifying pitch type and location), quiet-eye duration (i.e., total QE, QE-early and QE-late) and cortical activation (i.e., alpha wave activity/asymmetry; F3/F4 and P7/P8) were measured during the pitch-recognition tasks. Results showed significant performance improvements across groups, but no differences between groups. Both interventions were associated with a reduction in alpha wave activity for P8, an increase in alpha activity for F3, and a significant increase in QE-late. An increase in QE-late was associated with a decrease in P7/P8 alpha asymmetry and improvements in pitch-type recognition. Consistent with the extant literature, our results support the importance of a later QE offset for successful performance on perceptual tasks, potentially extending to perceputal-motor tasks. Although participants in the over-speed condition did not experience significantly larger improvements in performance than controls, this study highlights the association between QE and brain activity reflective of expertise.

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