How Do Hitters See The Baseball Out of The Hand
A conversation hitters need to have more often is about seeing the baseball….
……most think seeing the baseball means being able to track it.
But, seeing the baseball means being able to see it out of the pitcher’s hand. It is a skill every hitter can develop….
……but it has to be a priority and has to be something they work on every single day.
It’s amazing how seeing the baseball an additional 10 feet gives you the ability to:
- see pitch cues/direction
- see spin
- make decisions
Seeing the baseball out of the pitcher’s hand is not easy….
……. because most hitters do not have a visual strategy that allows them to get their eyes to the baseball on time.
So, this blog is going to walk through an example of a visual strategy that we, at AMBA, take hitters through……
……..as well as how hitters need to prep their eyes prior to going through this process.
Let’s cover the following things:
- Keeping the eyes relaxed and moving
- Visual strategy prior to the pitcher coming set
- Visual strategy once the pitcher comes set
Keeping The Eyes Relaxed and Moving
One of the first questions we ask hitters we work with at Athletic Mission is…..
- When you step in the box, what are you looking at?
This is something that most hitters have never thought of, so they aren’t able to answer this question.
So, what ends up happening is they get into the box and start staring at the pitcher.
Staring at the pitcher causes the eyes to strain, and when the eyes start to strain the body starts to tense.
The other thing is that keeping the eyes moving prevents one from thinking.
Visual Strategy Prior To The Pitcher Coming Set
So, when we are in the batter’s box, we need to keep our eyes relaxed so we can keep our body relaxed.
So how do we do this?
Prior to the pitcher coming set, we tell hitters to:
- Right Handed Hitters: keep the eyes moving between the pitcher and the second basemen.
- Left Handed Hitters: keep the eyes moving between the pitcher and the short stop
Casually keeping the eyes going back and forth out of your peripheral vision, you can see the pitcher start to come set.
When he comes set then you can fix your eyes on him.
Now, we have had hitters who are uncomfortable taking their eyes off the pitcher…….
……..so for those hitters we will have them:
- Keep the eyes moving between the pitcher’s head and the pitcher’s feet.
This allows them to keep their eyes moving and relax without causing the anxiety that they can’t see the pitcher ……
…….and feel like they aren’t going to get back and set in time.
Visual Strategy Once The Pitcher Comes Set
Once the pitcher comes set, hitters who are still relaxed now bring their eyes to the pitcher.
Where do they take their eyes?
At Athletic Mission, we have two different approaches:
- Upper Body Visual Strategy
- Full Body Visual Strategy
Now, the visual strategy hitters develop for pitchers is dependent upon the pitcher. Every pitcher is different in that they all have their own unique:
- Arm Slot
You can learn more about this process in a previous article (click here)
For this blog and this visual strategy explained, we are going to use a pitcher with a 3/4 arm slot.
Let’s go deeper:
Upper Body Visual Strategy
The upper body visual strategy is where we start when we introduce this concept to them.
We will create a visual path from:
- Front shoulder (pitcher’s glove arm)
- Back shoulder (pitcher’s throwing arm)
Throughout the pitching motion, the hitter’s eyes need to keep moving….
….but they need to move in a pattern or direction in which it meets the baseball as the pitcher releases it.
Whether the pitcher starts in the windup or stretch, he will be in a position where his glove shoulder is pointing towards the catcher.
And, when his foot hits the ground, that will be when the pitcher begins to rotate.
The hitter’s eye path will start at the pitcher’s shoulder, it will gaze to the other shoulder, then elbow before meeting the baseball.
See an example in the video below:
Full Body Visual Strategy
The Full Body Visual Strategy is where we take hitters when it’s all said and done.
They master the timing of the upper body approach before going with the full body approach.
The reason we want to get to the full body approach is because that is how hitters are reading pitchers.
So remember, we are reading the pitcher as hitters. Pitchers do different things with their pitches…..
……so our ability to see it all and get a feel for the pitch that is coming is the goal.
So with the Full Body Visual Strategy, the hitter’s eye path is:
- Leg Lift
We teach hitters to read the pitcher from the feet up, so it makes sense to carry it to the batter’s box.
There are things hitters will pick up consciously and subconsciously. So, this is where hitters will start getting a feel for what pitch the pitcher is getting ready to throw.
This also keeps our eyes relaxed and moving into the path of where they will pick up the baseball.
See video example below:
Hitters ability to pick the baseball up out of the hand is critical if they are going to play at higher levels.
The decision making process happens at this window.
Seeing the ball out of the hand can be taught and it must be taught.
Giving hitters a strategy is a conversation from pitcher to pitcher.
Which is why we always talk about the number one thing that hitters have to be able to do…is read the pitcher!
It will be a process to get their eyes to work, it’s going to be a process that they must buy into! It must be a priority….
……if it’s a priority, hitters will see it, they will master it, and it will be a game changer for their baseball career.