Catching fly balls is a science (not an art)

Turns out their is a science to catching fly balls.  And researchers at Brown University have the data to prove it. 

For the poindexters out there, here is the compilation of their study.  For the rest of us, parses it out for us. 

The essence of the study is that fielders need to track an optical variable called optical acceleration cancellation which will help them reach the ball. 

“All the fielders need to do is track this optical variable and it will lead them to a successful catch,” says William Warren, professor of cognitive and linguistic sciences at Brown and the paper’s senior author. “They don’t have to do a lot of heavy computation in their heads to predict the landing point.”

Eight varsity college baseball players and four softball players took part in the research by fielding virtual fly balls.  Each wore a virtual reality-type display headset. 

“Catching is clearly a perceptual motor skill that you have to learn,” Warren says, “but it does raise interesting questions about why some people are so much better at it than others.”

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