Published: Cognitive Brain Research, Volume 22, Issue 2, February 2005, Pages 257-264
Baseball hitters are required to make decisions whether to swing or not as quickly as possible. Therefore, we can assume that skilled baseball players have a quicker response. To verify this hypothesis, we assessed the effect of baseball experience or skill levels on simple reaction times and Go/Nogo reaction times in 82 university students (22 baseball players, 22 tennis players, and 38 nonathletes) and 17 professional baseball players. Also, to clarify whether this ability was innate or acquired, we examined the effects of long-term practice for baseball hitting in 94 senior high school students (26 baseball players and 68 non-baseball players). There were no differences in simple reaction time either for sports experience or for skill levels. On the contrary, the Go/Nogo reaction time for baseball players was significantly shorter than that of the tennis players and nonathletes. The Go/Nogo reaction time of higher-skill baseball players was significantly shorter than that of lower-skill players, while that of the professional baseball players was the shortest. The professional players showed the highest (almost linear) correlation between the Go/Nogo reaction time and simple reaction time. A longitudinal study showed that 2 years of hitting practice improved the Go/Nogo reaction time, while the simple reaction time remained constant. A cross-sectional study of high school non-baseball players showed no differences either in the simple or Go/Nogo reaction times in relation to school year. In conclusion, intensive practice, including Go or Nogo decision making, improved the Go/Nogo reaction time, but not the simple reaction time.