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Study shows system helps improve batting performance

March 6, 2012

A new research article reveals University of Cincinnati (UC) baseball team members significantly improved their batting performance in 2011 with the help of an enhanced vision training program, featuring a dynamic device called the Dynavision D2™.

The article was published last month in PLos One and showed the UC’s team batting average increased from 0.251 to 0.285 from 2010 to‐2011 and the slugging percentage increased by 0.033.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Big East’s slugging percentage decreased during that same time frame by 0.082. UC’s batting average was twelfth in the Big East in 2010 and improved to fourth in 2011.

“We analyzed the results of enhanced vision training performance in multiple ways, and they were highly statistically significant no matter how you slice it,” said Joe Clark, Ph.D., a professor in UC’s neurology department and one of the article’s authors. “Essentially, all batting parameters improved by 10 percent or more.”

The study began in January 2011, six weeks prior to the season, and continued throughout the season. It included a three-times weekly vision training session.

Among the key instruments used was the Dynavision D2™, which measures and improves reaction time, hand-eye coordination, peripheral awareness, cognitive focus and other visuo-motor skills.

The D2™ contains a sphere of buttons located around a central tachistocope that light up in random succession; all UC batters were expected to hit as many of the buttons as possible, using their peripheral vision, during one-minute drills. The number of hits and average reaction time for each hit was recorded.

Dynavision™ President Phil Jones explained the D2™ was a key component of the study because of its ability to bring visual awareness, reaction time and cognitive processing together.

“The time it takes for a pitched ball to reach the plate is approximately 0.4 seconds,” Dr. Clark said. “In that time, the batter needs to spot the pitch, assess rotation and direction of the ball and make a decision to swing or not. Given the time it takes to swing the bat, the batter has only about 0.17 seconds to make that decision.”

Dr. Clark has been an advocate for the D2™ ever since he first saw the technology at a trade show in 2010. He introduced the device to UC shortly after that and has led additional research studies using the D2™ within the UC football program.

Jim Ellis, O.D., is the team optometrist for UC and also worked on the study.

“First of all, the D2™ was just one of many components and devices that made up this study,” said Dr. Ellis. “Our feeling is that it is an important part of eye/hand coordination and is a useful tool for many other needs, such as rehabilitation of strokes for instance. We are fortunate here at the University of Cincinnati to have Dr. Joe Clark of the Department of Neurology in the College of Medicine working with programing the D2™ to target specific areas of the brain and to stimulate those areas to process information faster and to be able to recognize and react to the lights more efficiently. This is one of many different exercises that when combined, allows the batters to recognize pitches earlier and to be able to wait longer to judge the pitch before deciding to swing.”

Vision training methods also used in the UC baseball study included a tachistocope, Brock string, Eyeport, Rotary and strobe glasses.

“The strobe glasses have allowed the batters to experience the ball to seemingly come at them at a slower speed than it really is,” said Dr. Ellis. “The players report that they can pick up the spin of the ball earlier. We are also lucky to have a friend of mine of 30 years who is the mentor to the team and often stops in to give them pointers—Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench.”

Bearcats Baseball Coach Brian Cleary said he has no doubt that the enhanced vision training has helped his hitters.

“They have become more capable of recognizing pitches, especially the spin on breaking pitches and better at being able to quickly study opposing pitchers,” he said. “In speaking with our hitters, I’ve found that they are also believers and insisted that we continue the program for 2012.”

The full research article, “High‐Performance Vision Training Improves Batting Statistics for University of Cincinnati Baseball Players,” is available at www.dynavisiond2.com/articles/high-performance-vision-training.pdf.

Outside of UC, the D2™ has been shown to directly contribute to improved on‐field performance for multiple sports, ranging from the collegiate to professional level.

Prominent users include Gatorade, Sport Science Institute, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baylor University, Air Force Academy, University of Central Florida, IMG Performance Institute, NASCAR’s Kasey Kahne and more.

In addition, Dr. Ellis suggested the application for practicing optometrists to incorporate the study’s findings into their practices.

“For other optometrists, the methods and instruments we used in this study can be used as practice builders for those interested in sports vision or neuro-optometric rehabilitation, which are my particular areas of interest,” he said.

For additional information on Dynavision™, visit www.dynavisiond2.com.

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