Perceptual-cognitive performance of baseball players with varying level of expertise


Perceptual-cognitive skills (PCS) are critical to successfully execute motor skills in interceptive sports like baseball. The classification of PCS ranges from purely fundamental (e.g., visual acuity) to high-level and very specific (e.g., quiet eye). Identifying PCS contribution to the execution of baseball skills at the high performance level provides relevant information to support talent selection processes. Evidence supports that expert baseball players present higher PCS performance when compared to novices. However, understanding whether PCS improve concomitantly with the development of expertise will provide valuable information about their interaction in higher skill levels. Thus, this study aimed to compare fundamental PCS performance between players with varying levels of expertise. Thirty-nine male baseball batters aged between 16 and 20 years old (mean = 17.49, SD = 1.07) belonging to two expertise groups (“Élite” and “Relève”) participated in the study. A thorough battery of generic visuo-motor tests (e.g., RightEye Sensorimotor System, Senaptec Sensory Station, Neurotracker, and Vienna Test) was completed by a neuroscientist specialized in sports vision. Analysis of variance of eighteen perceptual-cognitive variables revealed no difference between the expertise levels. Associated with previous studies, this evidence suggests that players require enhanced fundamental PCS to achieve expertise levels in baseball, however, in higher skill levels, PCS do not improve concomitantly with the development of expertise. In sum, this study advances the understanding of the relation between PCS performance and expertise level.