Challenge 40% hitters with VR training

Batting Training System-Vision Training and Data from Wonju-gyo Dong-Jun Lee ⓒ Manager Kim Deok-yoon's blog
Batting Training System-Vision Training and Data from Wonju-gyo Dong-Jun Lee ⓒ Manager Kim Deok-yoon's blog

The first at-bat of the No. 4 baseball team at Duke University in North Carolina, the batter lightly hits the curveball of an unfamiliar pitcher. This is because I have watched the pitching of the opponent's pitcher several times in the virtual at-bat with the VR training system over the past week.

Shorten adaptation time by dealing with virtual avatar pitchers

The training technique used in training for the Duke University baseball team is the work of WIN Reality, a virtual reality software company based in Austin, Texas. A virtually created avatar pitcher appears in the company's VR technology. It is not a general virtual avatar, but an avatar created based on the actual opponent's pitcher data. The batter wears a VR device and swings the bat according to the avatar's pitch. WIN Reality's technology provides the user with the batter's batswing trajectory, timing, angle, and where the ball fits, and the batter uses this data to find a way to target the opponent's pitcher.

In baseball, there are numerous differences between pitchers, such as the speed of the ball, the fall of the ball, and the point at which the ball leaves the hand. That's why many hitters get into trouble when dealing with a new pitcher or a pitcher they've never met. VR training can significantly reduce the time for batters to adjust to the pitcher through the process of batters watching and observing the pitcher's ball.

Changes in brain activity over time in the general public and baseball players. Top-Public, Bottom-Athlete ⓒColumbia University, Jordan Muraskin
Changes in brain activity over time in the general public and baseball players. Top-Public, Bottom-Athlete ⓒColumbia University, Jordan Muraskin

0.1 second,'a moment' of judgment

Dr. Greg Appelbaum, a cognitive neuroscientist at Duke University, says, the most important factor in baseball is creating more time to capture visual cues earlier and make them responsive movements. The time to reach the batter with a ball of 160 km/h leaving the pitcher's hand is 0.35 seconds. Considering the 0.1 second it takes for the batter to recognize the ball and the minimum 0.15 second required for the bat swing, the batter has to make a number of judgments, such as whether to wait for the bat in the moment of 0.1 seconds, whether to swing, pull or push do.

As Dr. Apelbaum said, if you can shorten the recognition time of the batter through training, it will be of great help in improving your batting average.

Dr. Jordan Muraskin of Columbia University, USA, divided the participants into baseball players and the general public to determine the batter's cognitive structure and measured the batter's cranial nerve electrical signals.

Participants were instructed to enter a computer keyboard at the time of the swing, watching the motion of the green ball displayed on the screen. However, before the ball moves, three types of pitches F (direct ball), C (curve), and S (slider) were output, and only when the ball movement coincided with the corresponding ball type, he was able to hit.

Schematic diagram of Dr. Muraskin's experiment ⓒColumbia University, Jordan Muraskin
Schematic diagram of Dr. Muraskin's experiment ⓒColumbia University, Jordan Muraskin

For example, in a situation where the letter S (slider) is displayed, it waits if a direct ball (F) comes, and strikes if a slider (S, matches the previous letter) comes.

As a result of the experiment, in the case of baseball players, the activity of the supplementary motor area (SMA) was more active in a much shorter time than the general public in the situation of holding the ball. Conversely, in the situation of hitting the ball, fusiform gyrus (FG), which is used to distinguish different points of objects, was activated. In addition, the active activity of the orbitofrontal gyrus, which plays a role in decision making, was also found.

In other words, players are engaged in a fierce fighting before the ball leaves the opponent's hand as well as the momentary judgment of the motor nerve. In addition, it turns out that the difference between the untrained and the trained person is very large, and in order to make a better hit in the moment of 0.1 seconds, it is necessary to constantly train the brain and nerves. The development of VR technology is fueling the fire to enhance athletes' cognitive abilities and improve their performance.

Scientists' homework to conquer the 40%

Not only the aforementioned Duke University baseball team but also the LA Dodgers in the major leagues are using VR systems for training. Dave Roberts, former Major League Outfielder, and current Los Angeles Dodgers manager, actually interviewed that VR training is a big help to hitters, while Dodgers infielder Matt Beatty trained with New York Mats pitcher Avatar to get help.

In Korea, there are active attempts to introduce VR to baseball training. Professor Wang-Yoon Yoo of Kyungsung University has implemented a VR platform that maximizes the visual effect, and former KBO professional baseball player Seo Dong-hwan is developing a VR baseball training business in various fields. In particular, the Wonju Baseball Club is actively using VR training under the guidance of manager Kim Deok-Yoon, a former professional baseball player and former NC Dinos Power Analyst.

However, making full use of VR in sports still has a long way to go. In sports, especially baseball, there are too many variables to consider, such as the weather and the player's condition on the day, and it is not difficult to apply numerous variable data to technology. However, the advancement of AI technology is solving many problems that seemed impossible with human labor and effort, and in the future, the normalization of science' will accelerate.

In sports and in everyday life, there are scientists in the development of people and humanity.

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