Anxiety, attentional control, and performance : quiet eye training in Division I baseball
[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] The quiet eye (QE) represents the time needed to cognitively process information being fixated or tracked and to focus attention on the demands of the task (Vickers, 2009). Research indicates that an optimal combination of QE, attentional control, and gaze behavior is linked with superior skill execution (Harle & Vickers, 2001), and that the successful integration of these attentional behaviors may also combat the negative effects that anxiety can have on performance (e.g., Vine & Wilson, 2011). To advance the research on QE training in pressurized interceptive timing tasks (Vickers, 2016), this mixed-method study explored how QE training impacted the hitting performances of Division I baseball players during a pressure situation. The results showed that, despite experiencing more overall anxiety, the QE group maintained performance under pressure. A main effect for group also approached significance, with the QE group nearly outperforming the control group. However, this difference was not statistically significant. Regardless, analyses of the participants' written feedback indicated that the QE group reported greater task-focus, less distractibility, improved pitch perception, and reduced muscle tension. Taken together, these findings provide strong support for implementing QE training in interceptive timing tasks, particularly as it relates to preserving performance under pressure.
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