Baseball outfielders maintain a linear optical trajectory when tracking uncatchable fly balls

  • Shaffer D
  • McBeath M
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The authors investigated whether behavior of fielders pursuing uncatchable fly balls supported either (a) maintenance of a linear optical trajectory (LOT) with monotonic increases in optical ball height or (b) maintenance of optical acceleration cancellation (OAC) with simultaneous lateral alignment with the ball. Past work supports usage of both LOT and OAC strategies in the pursuit of catchable balls headed to the side. When balls are uncatchable, fielders must choose either optical linearity or alignment at the expense of the other. Fielders maintained the LOT strategy more often and for a longer period of time than they did the OAC alignment strategy. Findings support the LOT strategy as primary when pursuing balls headed to the side, whether catchable or not.

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  • Dennis M. Shaffer

  • Michael K. McBeath

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