By Kerry Sanders Correspondent
NBC News
updated 8/25/2004 4:05:40 PM ET 2004-08-25T20:05:40

It's a slugfest — the U.S. women's softball team is hitting deep and hitting often. How do they do it?

In part, players and coaches credit technology. For months leading up to the games, the players have been swinging at tennis balls, fired out of a cannon at 150 miles per hour.

The trick is not only to hit the ball, but also to spot the color of the ink on the ball and to see the number scribbled on its side.

The technology is designed to improve a player's hand-eye coordination. Chicago doctor Mike Bonaventura developed the ocular training equipment.

"The muscles in your eyes are the same types as in your fingers, arms and hands," says Dr. Bonaventura. "And the muscles can be conditioned — any muscle group can be conditioned to be better."

We may not see it, but they do.

"When we first saw it, it was like, no way am I going to be able to see that," says U.S. team member Laura Berg. "And then you step in and you get used to it and you see it over and over again and it's like, wow! When you see that big red five flying right at you, you're like, 'oh, this is cool!'"

The U.S. women's team believes it's eventually going to pay off. The team says no matter how fast a ball comes at them, they can now mentally slow it down, see the seams and the rotation — just like ink color and number on the tennis ball.

So far, the results are a smashing success — six wins, all shutouts.

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