Does the combination of different pitches and the absence of pitch type information influence timing control during batting in baseball?

Shuji Kidokoro, Yuji Matsuzaki, Ryota Akagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Baseball pitchers use various pitch types to reduce hitting accuracy, but little is understood of the practical strategy of using visuomotor skills and timing control to respond to different pitches. This study examined 1) effectiveness of pitch type combinations, and 2) relationship between the presence and absence of advance information about the next pitch and the timing error. Twenty-six high school baseball players hit a ball launched from a pitching machine in a combination of fastballs (34.3±1.3 m s-1), curveballs (25.4±1.0 m s-1), and slowballs (25.5±0.9 m s-1). Each participant performed three conditions. (1) Continuity condition (15 trials), in which the same pitch type was thrown five times consecutively. (2) Random condition (30 trials), in which pitch type was not preliminarily conveyed to the participants. (3) Open condition (20 trials), in which the next pitch type was preliminarily conveyed to participants. Participants’ hitting movement was recorded by an optical motion capture system and force platform. We calculated timing error based on the difference between the measured impact location (ball position relative to the batter’s body at ball-bat impact) and optimal impact location. The timing error between n-th pitch type, (n–1)-th pitch, and the presence or absence of advance information about pitch type (open vs random condition) were analyzed using three-way repeated ANOVA. The results showed that the (n–1)-th pitch type did not affect the timing of impact (p = 0.338). In contrast, the timing errors in open conditions were fewer compared to random conditions (p < 0.001). These results indicate that the pitch type sequence has insignificant effects, and advance information about pitches affects the timing errors. Therefore, having two or more pitch types, reducing the fluctuation of the pitching motion, and the early trajectory of the ball between different pitches potentially lead to increase timing errors.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0230385
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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