To gain deeper insight into respective contributions of perceptual and motor experience of an observed action to anticipating its result, we examined the perceptual anticipation of players with different action roles in striking sports. Baseball pitchers and batters at both advanced and intermediate levels were asked to make a decision about whether to swing the bat when viewing a series of videos showing incomplete sequences of a model pitcher throwing a strike or a ball. The results revealed that first 100 ms of ball flight could discriminate advanced batters from intermediate pitchers and batters (with no difference between intermediate pitchers and batters). Particularly, advanced batters (perceptual experts with regard to pitching action) were statistically more accurate and less uncertain in making decisions than were intermediate players, whereas advanced pitchers (motor experts) only showed this tendency without reaching a statistically significant level. Moreover, advanced batters demonstrated greater perceptual sensitivity in discriminating when to swing at strikes over balls than all other players. Our findings suggested that when players were above intermediate level, perceptual experience of an observed action facilitated the perceptual anticipation to a greater extent than motor experience of producing it.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 43(2), 307-316