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Concept: Baseball


Mental health is a major concern in many countries. We explore whether youth participation in the Scouts and Guides could protect mental health in later life and in particular whether it might reduce inequalities in mental health associated with early life socioeconomic position.

Concepts: Cohort study, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Sociology, Youth, Baseball, Scout Motto, Scouting


Hitting a baseball is often described as the most difficult thing to do in sports. A key aptitude of a good hitter is the ability to determine which pitch is coming. This rapid decision requires the batter to make a judgment in a fraction of a second based largely on the trajectory and spin of the ball. When does this decision occur relative to the ball’s trajectory and is it possible to identify neural correlates that represent how the decision evolves over a split second? Using single-trial analysis of electroencephalography (EEG) we address this question within the context of subjects discriminating three types of pitches (fastball, curveball, slider) based on pitch trajectories. We find clear neural signatures of pitch classification and, using signal detection theory, we identify the times of discrimination on a trial-to-trial basis. Based on these neural signatures we estimate neural discrimination distributions as a function of the distance the ball is from the plate. We find all three pitches yield unique distributions, namely the timing of the discriminating neural signatures relative to the position of the ball in its trajectory. For instance, fastballs are discriminated at the earliest points in their trajectory, relative to the two other pitches, which is consistent with the need for some constant time to generate and execute the motor plan for the swing (or inhibition of the swing). We also find incorrect discrimination of a pitch (errors) yields neural sources in Brodmann Area 10, which has been implicated in prospective memory, recall, and task difficulty. In summary, we show that single-trial analysis of EEG yields informative distributions of the relative point in a baseball’s trajectory when the batter makes a decision on which pitch is coming.

Concepts: Discrimination, Baseball, Pitcher, Fastball, Base on balls, Batting average, Curveball, Slider


Laboratory studies have demonstrated that circadian clocks align physiology and behavior to 24-h environmental cycles. Examination of athletic performance has been used to discern the functions of these clocks in humans outside of controlled settings. Here, we examined the effects of jet lag, that is, travel that shifts the alignment of 24-h environmental cycles relative to the endogenous circadian clock, on specific performance metrics in Major League Baseball. Accounting for potential differences in home and away performance, travel direction, and team confounding variables, we observed that jet-lag effects were largely evident after eastward travel with very limited effects after westward travel, consistent with the >24-h period length of the human circadian clock. Surprisingly, we found that jet lag impaired major parameters of home-team offensive performance, for example, slugging percentage, but did not similarly affect away-team offensive performance. On the other hand, jet lag impacted both home and away defensive performance. Remarkably, the vast majority of these effects for both home and away teams could be explained by a single measure, home runs allowed. Rather than uniform effects, these results reveal surprisingly specific effects of circadian misalignment on athletic performance under natural conditions.

Concepts: Circadian rhythm, Period, Baseball, Jet lag, Major League Baseball, National League, Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds


Our visual abilities profoundly impact performance on an enormous range of tasks. Numerous studies examine mechanisms that can improve vision [1]. One limitation of published studies is that learning effects often fail to transfer beyond the trained task or to real world conditions. Here we report the results of a novel integrative perceptual learning program that combines multiple perceptual learning approaches: training with a diverse set of stimuli [2], optimized stimulus presentation [3], multisensory facilitation [4], and consistently reinforcing training stimuli [5], with the goal to generalize benefits to real world tasks. We applied this training program to the University of California Riverside (UCR) Baseball Team and assessed benefits using standard eye-charts and batting statistics. Trained players showed improved vision after training, had decreased strike-outs, and created more runs; and even accounting for maturational gains, these additional runs may have led to an additional four to five team wins. These results demonstrate real world transferable benefits of a vision-training program based on perceptual learning principles.

Concepts: Improve, Skill, Training, Task, Baseball, Batting average, Batting


BACKGROUND:Medial ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction is a common procedure performed on Major League Baseball (MLB) pitchers in the United States. PURPOSE:To determine (1) the rate of return to pitching (RTP) in the MLB after UCL reconstruction, (2) the RTP rate in either the MLB and minor league combined, (3) performance after RTP, and (4) the difference in the RTP rate and performance between pitchers who underwent UCL reconstruction and matched controls without UCL injuries. STUDY DESIGN:Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3. METHODS:Major League Baseball pitchers with symptomatic medial UCL deficiency who underwent UCL reconstruction were evaluated. All player, elbow, and surgical demographic data were analyzed. Controls matched by age, body mass index, position, handedness, and MLB experience and performance were selected from the MLB during the same years as those undergoing UCL reconstruction. An “index year” was designated for controls, analogous to the UCL reconstruction year in cases. Return to pitching and performance measures in the MLB were compared between cases and controls. Student t tests were performed for analysis of within-group and between-group variables, respectively. RESULTS:A total of 179 pitchers with UCL tears who underwent reconstruction met the inclusion criteria and were analyzed. Of these, 148 pitchers (83%) were able to RTP in the MLB, and 174 pitchers were able to RTP in the MLB and minor league combined (97.2%), while only 5 pitchers (2.8%) were never able to RTP in either the MLB or minor league. Pitchers returned to the MLB at a mean 20.5 ± 9.72 months after UCL reconstruction. The length of career in the MLB after UCL reconstruction was 3.9 ± 2.84 years, although 56 of these patients were still currently actively pitching in the MLB at the start of the 2013 season. The revision rate was 3.9%. In the year before UCL reconstruction, pitching performance declined significantly in the cases versus controls in the number of innings pitched, games played, and wins and the winning percentage (P < .05). After surgery, pitchers showed significantly improved performance versus before surgery (fewer losses, a lower losing percentage, lower earned run average [ERA], threw fewer walks, and allowed fewer hits, runs, and home runs) (P < .05). Comparisons between cases and controls for the time frame after UCL reconstruction (cases) or the index year (controls) demonstrated that cases had significantly (P < .05) fewer losses per season and a lower losing percentage. In addition, cases had a significantly lower ERA and allowed fewer walks and hits per inning pitched. CONCLUSION:There is a high rate of RTP in professional baseball after UCL reconstruction. Performance declined before surgery and improved after surgery. When compared with demographic-matched controls, patients who underwent UCL reconstruction had better results in multiple performance measures. Reconstruction of the UCL allows for a predictable and successful return to the MLB.

Concepts: Baseball, Baseball statistics, Major League Baseball, National League, St. Louis Cardinals, Minor league baseball, Designated hitter, Tommy John surgery


In our daily lives, we use faces as a major source of information about other people. Recent work has begun to highlight how one’s facial width-to-height ratio (fWHR) is linked to a number of behaviours (e.g. deception, aggression and financial performance in firms). fWHR has also been linked to several factors that may be beneficial for sport (e.g. achievement drive, winning mentality and aggression). Despite this, few studies have examined the relationship between fWHR and sports performance, and these have focused on Caucasian sportsmen. Here, we investigated the relationship between fWHR and baseball performance in professional Japanese baseball players. We show that fWHR is positively related with home run performance across two consecutive seasons. The findings provide the first evidence linking fWHR to baseball performance and linking fWHR to behavioural outcomes in Asian participants.

Concepts: Human behavior, Baseball, Sport, Major League Baseball, Minor league baseball, Nippon Professional Baseball, Run, Home run


Abstract The purpose of this article was to examine the effect of equipment scaling, through the modification of tennis ball compression, on elite junior tennis players (aged 10 years) within a match-play context. The two types of ball compressions that were compared were the standard compression (the normal ball) and 75% compression (termed the modified ball). Ten boys and 10 girls participated in the study. Participants were stratified into pairs based on their Australian Age Ranking and gender. Each pair played two two-set matches: one match with standard compression balls and one match with modified balls. The characteristics of each match were analysed and compared. The results showed that the use of the modified ball increased rally speed, allowed players to strike the ball at a lower (more comfortable) height on their groundstrokes and increased the number of balls played at the net. Ball compression had no effect on the relative number of winners, forehands, backhands, first serves in and double faults. The results are discussed in relation to skill acquisition for skilled junior tennis players.

Concepts: Skill, Learning, Data compression, Baseball, Tennis, Dreyfus model of skill acquisition, Balls, Junior tennis


Higuchi, T, Nagami, T, Mizuguchi, N, and Anderson, T. The acute and chronic effects of isometric contraction conditioning on baseball bat velocity. J Strength Cond Res 27(1): 216-222, 2013-The purpose of this study was to examine (a) the acute change in bat velocity (BV) following three types of warm-up procedures for baseball hitting (experiment 1), and (b) the effect of an 8-week training program of isometric contraction conditioning (ISO) on BV (experiment 2). In experiment 1, the BV of 24 collegiate baseball players was measured before and after one of the three warm-up procedures; five standard bat (mass = 850.5 g) dry swings (SBS), five weighted bat (mass = 850.5 g + 680.4 g) dry swings (WBS), and four sets of 5-second maximal voluntary isometric contractions mimicking the bat swing movement pattern (ISO). BV was measured just before ball-bat impact. Experiment 2 followed experiment 1 and used only the ISO warm-up. Twelve of the 24 subjects formed the experimental group and underwent an 8-week training program (3 days per week) of ISO training. Results of experiment 1 indicated (a) no significant change in post-SBS BV (-0.33 m·s), (b) a significant decrease in post-WBS BV (-0.89 m·s; p < 0.05), and (c) a significant increase in post-ISO BV (+0.39 m·s; p < 0.05). In experiment 2, there was a significant increase in baseline BV after the 8-week training period (30.21 ± 1.83 m·s to 31.15 ± 1.57 m·s). A comparison of BV before and after ISO warm-up revealed that change was significantly greater after the training period (100.17 ± 3.18% vs. 103.75 ± 1.91%). Our results suggest that warm-up with WBS does not increase BV and that using the ISO has both acute and chronic positive effects on BV as a warm-up procedure to improve BV.

Concepts: Exercise, Experiment, Strength training, Resistance training, Isometric exercise, Baseball, Physical strength, Baseball bat


Baseball pitching imposes a dangerous valgus load on the elbow that puts the joint at severe risk for injury. The goal of this study was to develop a musculoskeletal modeling approach to enable evaluation of muscle-tendon contributions to mitigating elbow injury risk in pitching. We implemented a forward dynamic simulation framework that used a scaled biomechanical model to reproduce a pitching motion recorded from a high school pitcher. The medial elbow muscles generated substantial, protective, varus elbow moments in our simulations. For our subject, the triceps generated large varus moments at the time of peak valgus loading; varus moments generated by the flexor digitorum superficialis were larger, but occurred later in the motion. Increasing muscle-tendon force output, either by augmenting parameters associated with strength and power or by increasing activation levels, decreased the load on the ulnar collateral ligament. Published methods have not previously quantified the biomechanics of elbow muscles during pitching. This simulation study represents a critical advancement in the study of baseball pitching and highlights the utility of simulation techniques in the study of this difficult problem.

Concepts: Simulation, Baseball, Pitcher, Fastball, Catcher, Baseball positions, Tommy John surgery, Relief pitcher