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How does an outfielder know where to run for a fly ball?
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology ^ | 21-Jan-2010 | Jessie Williams

Posted on 01/22/2010 3:20:48 AM PST by Pharmboy

Virtual-reality baseballs give researchers insight into long-standing mystery

Rockville, MD — While baseball fans still rank "The Catch" by Willie Mays in the 1954 World Series as one of the greatest baseball moments of all times, scientists see the feat as more of a puzzle: How does an outfielder get to the right place at the right time to catch a fly ball?

Thousands of fans (and hundreds of thousands of YouTube viewers) saw Mays turn his back on a fly ball, race to the center field fence and catch the ball over his shoulder, seemingly a precise prediction of a fly ball's path that led his team to victory. According to a recent article in the Journal of Vision ("Catching Flyballs in Virtual Reality: A Critical Test of the Outfielder Problem"), the "outfielder problem" represents the definitive question of visual-motor control. How does the brain use visual information to guide action?

To test three theories that might explain an outfielder's ability to catch a fly ball, researcher Philip Fink, PhD, from Massey University in New Zealand and Patrick Foo, PhD, from the University of North Carolina at Ashville programmed Brown University's virtual reality lab, the VENLab, to produce realistic balls and simulate catches. The team then lobbed virtual fly balls to a dozen experienced ball players.

"The three existing theories all predict the same thing: successful catches with very similar behavior," said Brown researcher William Warren, PhD. "We realized that we could pull them apart by using virtual reality to create physically impossible fly ball trajectories."

Warren said their results support the idea that the ball players do not necessarily predict a ball's landing point based on the first part of its flight, a theory described as trajectory prediction. "Rather than predicting the landing point, the fielder might continuously track the visual motion of the ball, letting it lead him to the right place at the right time," Warren said.

Because the researchers were able to use the virtual reality lab to perturb the balls' vertical motion in ways that would not happen in reality, they were able to isolate different characteristics of each theory. The subjects tended to adjust their forward-backward movements depending on the perceived elevation angle of the incoming ball, and separately move from side to side to keep the ball at a constant bearing, consistent with the theory of optical acceleration cancellation (OAC). The third theory, linear optical trajectory (LOT), predicted that the outfielder will run in a direction that makes the visual image of the ball appear to travel in a straight line, adjusting both forward-backward and side-to-side movements together.

Fink said these results focus on the visual information a ball player receives, and that future studies could bring in other variables, such as the effect of the batter's movements or sound.

"As a first step we chose to concentrate on what seemed likely to be the most important factor," Fink said. "Fielders might also use information such as the batter's swing or the sound of the bat hitting the ball to help guide their movements."

###

The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world. Members include more than 12,500 eye and vision researchers from over 80 countries. ARVO encourages and assists research, training, publication and knowledge-sharing in vision and ophthalmology.

ARVO's Journal of Vision (www.journalofvision.org) is an online-only, peer-reviewed, open-access publication devoted to visual function in humans and animals. It explores topics such as spatial vision, perception, low vision, color vision and more, spanning the fields of neuroscience, psychology and psychophysics. JOV is known for hands-on datasets and models that users can manipulate online.


TOPICS: Sports
KEYWORDS: baseball; visuospatial
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Rather than a hot stove league report, perhaps a Bunsen burner league report...
1 posted on 01/22/2010 3:20:48 AM PST by Pharmboy
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To: thefactor; GOP_Raider; mainepatsfan; neverdem; blam; SunkenCiv

This is a baseball ping, but since I do not know the baseball fans here (other than thefactor), this is more random.


2 posted on 01/22/2010 3:23:16 AM PST by Pharmboy (The Stone Age did not end because they ran out of stones...)
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To: Pharmboy

The catch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dK6zPbkFnE


3 posted on 01/22/2010 3:24:54 AM PST by Woebama (Never, never, never quit)
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To: Pharmboy

Shoot, I dunno......I’ve always just run to where I think the ball is headed is all. Usually can catch it, too. :) No rocket science.


4 posted on 01/22/2010 3:26:48 AM PST by RightOnline
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To: Woebama

Thanks for that...I was a grade-schooler then, but remember it well when it happened. That’s all we talked about on my Brooklyn street for a while.


5 posted on 01/22/2010 3:31:50 AM PST by Pharmboy (The Stone Age did not end because they ran out of stones...)
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To: RightOnline

True enough...more like brain surgery than rocket science. What is fascinating to me is that the fielder likely takes in the sound of the ball on the bat to unconsciously make the decision.


6 posted on 01/22/2010 3:33:45 AM PST by Pharmboy (The Stone Age did not end because they ran out of stones...)
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To: Pharmboy
Physics rules!


7 posted on 01/22/2010 3:40:07 AM PST by Daffynition (What's all this about hellfire and Dalmatians?)
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To: Pharmboy

You run until the ball stops drifting left or right (bearing) then you work on distance (range). Not rocket science. the range problem is harder than the bearing problem.


8 posted on 01/22/2010 3:42:36 AM PST by central_va ( http://www.15thvirginia.org/)
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To: Pharmboy

This is what you get when geeks try to understand jocks.


9 posted on 01/22/2010 3:45:50 AM PST by pgyanke (You have no "rights" that require an involuntary burden on another person. Period. - MrB)
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To: Pharmboy

The best outfielder I ever played with knew where to stand just before the ball was hit. He never had to do much running.


10 posted on 01/22/2010 3:47:59 AM PST by Dixie Yooper (Ephesians 6:11)
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To: Pharmboy

I bet you talked about it. I get excited when my team wins the series as an adult family man. As a boy . . . it is even better.


11 posted on 01/22/2010 3:49:26 AM PST by Woebama (Never, never, never quit)
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To: Pharmboy

I played right field mostly, and I could always get a jump on the direction of the ball before the batter actually hit it, based on the pitch location and the swing. I don’t know why, I just could. I can still tell if a football is on target the second it leaves the quarterbacks hand, and whether a basketball is going in the second it leaves your hands. I have no idea why, but I’ve always had these senses.


12 posted on 01/22/2010 3:50:06 AM PST by Edgar3 (America is suffering from "Sorosis" of the Presidency)
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To: pgyanke

Yes. I remember when baseball used to be FUN!


13 posted on 01/22/2010 3:50:20 AM PST by ARepublicanForAllReasons (Give 'em hell, Sarah!)
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To: Pharmboy

Why do I get the feeling that a multi-million dollar Govt grant is involved here?


14 posted on 01/22/2010 3:53:31 AM PST by orlop9
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To: central_va

I think it works in phases programed in the mind...To really get the answer play frisbee with a frisbee catching dog some day. I’d swear you’d think that he’s zeroing in by smell.

You first run in the general vicinity as the trajectory dictates, then adjust as you get closer taken into account the memory of drift that occurs when eg a right batter hit the ball to right field off of a left hand pitcher.

Over time it becomes second nature.

You see it in little league. Some kids have natural ability to hone in on flies, some don’t as much.


15 posted on 01/22/2010 3:58:53 AM PST by nikos1121 (Praying for minus 24 today....at least minus 23...)
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To: Pharmboy

“Rather than predicting the landing point, the fielder might continuously track the visual motion of the ball, letting it lead him to the right place at the right time,” Warren said.”

GNS.

And this load cost how much? You could have developed this for free by going out to shag some flies.


16 posted on 01/22/2010 4:07:00 AM PST by Adder (Proudly ignoring Zero since 1-20-09! WTFU!)
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To: Pharmboy

Obviously no one consulted Manny Ramirez.


17 posted on 01/22/2010 4:16:47 AM PST by muir_redwoods (Obama: The Fresh Prince of Bill Ayers)
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To: Pharmboy
This is amazing: Great baseball catch by a girl
18 posted on 01/22/2010 4:22:27 AM PST by Brugmansian
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To: Brugmansian

I hate to ruin it for you, but that was faked. :)


19 posted on 01/22/2010 4:24:47 AM PST by Libertarian4Bush (if you voted for obama, I have no respect for you. you're either a loser or a sucker. sorry!)
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To: Pharmboy

That blows by theory of outfielders having some sort of ball magnet under their cap, ala Conseco.


20 posted on 01/22/2010 4:27:33 AM PST by WinMod70
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To: RightOnline

Whenever the bat hits the ball you react with some motion NO MATTER where it is going. Takes a split second to put things together and react to the actual trajectory.


21 posted on 01/22/2010 4:31:54 AM PST by Renegade (You go tell my buddies)
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To: Pharmboy

Strangely enough, it’s important to me to know whether a fielder predicts the final point based on a tracjectory predicted from early clues (as several players believe), or predicts moment-to-moment during the flight.

My next question is how long (or short) are the “moments.”


22 posted on 01/22/2010 4:33:44 AM PST by Marylander
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To: Pharmboy

This is interesting. Thanks.


23 posted on 01/22/2010 4:35:55 AM PST by kinsman redeemer (The real enemy seeks to devour what is good.)
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To: Renegade

Since some of us see age 50 way back in the rear view mirror...it just now takes a bit bigger “split” in the “second” to respond. :)


24 posted on 01/22/2010 4:37:12 AM PST by RightOnline
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To: kinsman redeemer

You are most welcome. An interesting question in physics and human visuo-spatial physiology.


25 posted on 01/22/2010 4:55:11 AM PST by Pharmboy (The Stone Age did not end because they ran out of stones...)
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To: onedoug

ping


26 posted on 01/22/2010 4:56:22 AM PST by stylecouncilor (What Would Jim Thompson Do?)
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To: Pharmboy

This is basically what one has to do when playing tennis. You have to be able to calculate in your head where the ball is going to land in your court and then to be there when it does, and many factors go into the calculation ... where your opponent is standing, how hard he hit the ball, the angle of his racquet when he hit, and more. A “lob” is especially like a fly ball.


27 posted on 01/22/2010 4:59:09 AM PST by Apple Pan Dowdy (... as American as Apple Pie mmm mmm mmm)
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To: Woebama

I believe Mays was about 430 feet from home plate when he made that catch. Parts of the Polo Grounds were around 460 feet from home plate. A truly massive outfield.

Today “The Catch” would have been a tremendous home run.


28 posted on 01/22/2010 5:11:39 AM PST by Columbia (The Gem of the Ocean)
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To: Woebama

Dimensions of the Polo Grounds.

Left Field - 279 ft (85 m)
Left-Center - 450 ft (137 m)
Center Field - 483 ft (147 m)
Right-Center - 449 ft (136 m)
Right Field - 258 ft (78 m)


29 posted on 01/22/2010 5:11:41 AM PST by Columbia (The Gem of the Ocean)
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To: Pharmboy
Maybe when they figure out how fielders catch fly balls they can let the Mets in on the big secret.

Specifically, Castillo and Murphy.

30 posted on 01/22/2010 5:16:33 AM PST by thefactor (yes, as a matter of fact, i DID only read the excerpt)
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To: Edgar3

There’s a former Marine fighter pilot (Korea)/Pistol Team member who stops by the watering hole now and then. He say’s he can’t explain his vision, either—just that “the damn ten-ring looks like a dinnerplate to me at 50 yards.”


31 posted on 01/22/2010 5:17:58 AM PST by 1rudeboy
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To: Libertarian4Bush

Oh no..I was had...hahaha...

Still...its neat and she’s cute.


32 posted on 01/22/2010 5:26:49 AM PST by Brugmansian
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To: stylecouncilor

Our taxes at work.

Understanding the gravitational...uh, baseball field.


33 posted on 01/22/2010 5:27:59 AM PST by onedoug
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To: Pharmboy
Thousands of fans (and hundreds of thousands of YouTube viewers) saw Mays turn his back on a fly ball, race to the center field fence and catch the ball over his shoulder

I was there!

(And it's lots more than "hundreds of thousands of YouTube viewers" who have seen this. It is simply the most often replayed video moment in sports history.)

ML/NJ

34 posted on 01/22/2010 5:32:04 AM PST by ml/nj
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To: Pharmboy

This is not nearly as puzzling as how a person can take a round bat and hit a round ball...squarely.


35 posted on 01/22/2010 5:34:07 AM PST by N. Theknow (Kennedys: Can't fly, can't ski, can't drive, can't skipper a boat, but they know what's best.)
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To: RightOnline
..I’ve always just run to where I think the ball is headed is all. Usually can catch it, too. :) No rocket science.

Sure ... it's not hard to do ...

But how do you do it? How does your brain process the visual data so you can think the ball is headed some particular place?

It's quite clear that you haven't a clue ... neither do I.

It is, in fact, a very difficult problem. "Artificial Intelligence" and robotics are, in some ways, more difficult disciplines than mere rocket science.

36 posted on 01/22/2010 5:35:55 AM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: Pharmboy
"How does an outfielder get to the right place at the right time to catch a fly ball?"

Calculus.

37 posted on 01/22/2010 5:37:29 AM PST by meyer (Government health care = national strike.)
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To: Columbia

Yowza...I never realized the Polo Grounds’ outfield was that huge. As a kid I was at Ebbets Field (Brooklyn) often, but never went to the Polo Grounds (Manhattan/NYC).


38 posted on 01/22/2010 5:53:12 AM PST by Pharmboy (The Stone Age did not end because they ran out of stones...)
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To: 1rudeboy
There’s a former Marine fighter pilot (Korea)/Pistol Team member who stops by the watering hole now and then. He say’s he can’t explain his vision, either—just that “the damn ten-ring looks like a dinnerplate to me at 50 yards.”

That's a GOOD thing!
39 posted on 01/22/2010 5:56:31 AM PST by Edgar3 (America is suffering from "Sorosis" of the Presidency)
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To: ml/nj

Wow!! You were there...most excellent. I was watching it on TV (the old black and white Dumont!).


40 posted on 01/22/2010 5:57:39 AM PST by Pharmboy (The Stone Age did not end because they ran out of stones...)
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To: thefactor

Keep Murph on first. My Boston friend says Bay is bad too.


41 posted on 01/22/2010 5:58:24 AM PST by Pharmboy (The Stone Age did not end because they ran out of stones...)
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To: Edgar3

And I have never been able to judge a fly ball. I have above average athletic abilities in most things I have ever tried, but not shagging flys.


42 posted on 01/22/2010 6:00:39 AM PST by csmusaret (Oops. My karma just ran over my dogma.)
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To: Brugmansian
This is amazing: Great baseball catch by a girl

Great! I think I just fell in love!

;0)

43 posted on 01/22/2010 6:04:36 AM PST by JimRed ("Hey, hey, Teddy K., hot enough down there today?" TERM LIMITS, NOW AND FOREVER!)
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To: Pharmboy

Some things are better left alone. It’s easy. To track down a flyball you say “oh shit” and start running.


44 posted on 01/22/2010 6:09:13 AM PST by RGSpincich
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To: RGSpincich
LOL! That brought back memories of me in left field in sandlot ball. How true...

Reminds of a definition of anesthesiology from med school: 99% boredom and 1% sheer terror (meaning that occasionally the surgical patient's blood pressure drops or some other catastrophe happens).

45 posted on 01/22/2010 6:13:29 AM PST by Pharmboy (The Stone Age did not end because they ran out of stones...)
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To: RightOnline

And we don’t get from point A to point B as we did .


46 posted on 01/22/2010 6:14:11 AM PST by Renegade (You go tell my buddies)
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To: csmusaret
And I have never been able to judge a fly ball.

Ah memories. I had the same problem until I started going back rather than in at the crack of the bat. Keeping the ball "in front" of me kept me out of trouble.

47 posted on 01/22/2010 6:18:24 AM PST by RGSpincich
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To: Pharmboy

ping for later


48 posted on 01/22/2010 7:19:49 AM PST by grb
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To: orlop9

I don’t know about the cost of such a grant but
It’s easy to imagine the value.


49 posted on 01/22/2010 7:33:23 AM PST by kinsman redeemer (The real enemy seeks to devour what is good.)
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To: meyer
"How does an outfielder get to the right place at the right time to catch a fly ball?" Calculus.

...with a number of additional and complex real-time perturbations. It makes me realize just how powerful our cognition and problem-solving skills are.

For me, the process illuminates God's creative power. This is just one more example. So much of we we "invent" comes directly from a better understanding of what was created.

A better understanding of how I catch a baseball (or try, really) could help us to defend ourselves against enemy attacks.

I love this.

50 posted on 01/22/2010 7:46:13 AM PST by kinsman redeemer (The real enemy seeks to devour what is good.)
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