Jake` Isaiah Kuchmaner, FACSM. East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.

BACKGROUND: The Quiet Eye (QE) is defined as the final fixation prior to the initiation of movement and is defined as an eye movement that lasts for 100ms and remains within 3° of visual angle. In targeting sports, QE periods that locate the target early and for longer durations allow performers to retrieve and coordinate motor programs appropriate for the task. In golf putting and basketball shooting studies, earlier onsets and longer fixation times correlate to higher performance outcomes. The purpose of the study is to determine how elite pitchers use their eyes to locate and fixate on a target and execute a pitch being called to that specific location. Researchers hypothesized that QE duration will be significantly longer when the pitchers are shown a target. Moreover, it was also hypothesized that, on average, pitches that are recorded as strikes (S) will show a significantly longer QE fixation duration compared to pitches recorded as balls (B). METHODS: A sample of 3 elite level pitchers each threw 30 pitches to live hitters in set targeted and non-set targeted conditions (S= 15, N = 15). In the set targeted condition, the catcher flashed and held his glove to the pitcher at the intended target immediately following the designated pitch call. In the non-set targeted condition, the catcher did not move until after the ball was released. Eye tracking data was recorded on PubilLabs Invisible Eye Tracking Glasses. The Rapsodo 3.0 pitch tracker was used to measure pitch outcomes in terms of strikes (Y) and balls (N). The gaze data was tracked and analyzed through iMotions. All data was accumulated and transferred to JASP 0.16.0 to determine outcomes and significance. Significance was set at p>0.05. RESULTS: There was a significant difference in fixation duration in the S vs. N conditions (1126.88±563.50 vs. 811.21±532.27ms, p=0.008). Pitch results (Y vs. N) showed no significant difference (977.53±567.65 vs. 946.98±578.79). CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that pitchers need a target to fixate for longer durations. Further research is needed to investigate the spatial and temporal aspects of the target. Moreover, these findings also suggest that fixation duration did not impact a pitcher’s ability to throw the ball to the intended target in the strike zone. Further research with more participants is needed to determine QE fixation duration and its effects on pitch outcomes.

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