Recapping the Dr. Peter Fadde Conversation

Welcome to The Baseball Awakening Podcast where we dive into the raw, unfiltered, unsexy side of player development.

Summary:

On this episode, Host, Geoff Rottmayer,recaps his conversation with Dr. Peter Fadde of Game Sense Sport and author of ebook The 6th Tool – Training Pitch Recognition. The biggest takeaways that he discussed in this show are:

  • The importance of vision training in baseball.
  • The eye-brain connection.
  • One needs to be taught how to see baseball.
  • Tracking is important but is natural instinct but picking up ball must be trained.
  • The video occlusion and its brilliant app.
  • Building a mental database.
  • Picking, spin, color, or shape cues to recognize pitches.
  • Solution if you cannot afford the software app.
  • and much more.

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Email Address:geoff@baseballawakening.com

Transcribe:

Hey guys Geoff Rottmayer here with the Baseball Awakening recap show where I share with you the biggest takeaways I got from my conversation with Butch Baccala – as well as how I plan to implement what I have learned with my players that train with me at my academy in Tulsa Oklahoma. 

Again, as I always say, we want to hear from you because different things mean different thing to different people so it would be interesting to see how you guys interpret something that Butch said or something that I am going to say today. I will make a show reading your email because we can all learn something from it, so my email is going to be geoff@baseballawakening.com, so some of your thoughts, comment, or feedback.

Anything that involves the eyes and the brain fascinates me. The eyes feed the brain information and the better and trained the eyes are, the better athletes you will be in general. Dr. Fadde started is quest with wanting to understand how to train pitch recognition and came across the concept of video occlusion, which basically would show you the image of the pitcher throwing the baseball and within that first third window or even right out of hand, you have to see the ball because the video will black out and you will not see the ball anymore. The idea is to get you to learn to focus on seeing the ball really early. 

Most guys have to be taught how to see the ball. Even with this program, they will eventually figure it out, but they have to be taught how to see the baseball. It is assumed that guys know what we need when we tell them to keep their eyes on the baseball.

Like Dr. Fadde said, it is a natural instinct to track the baseball, anything that comes at us we will track but picking it up early, early enough to recognize what it will be and where it will be is the key to playing this game, especially at higher levels where pitcher have tremendous speed and movements on their pitches. 

The other things, because the ball is coming in so quick, we do not have time to think about it. We have to train enough to where our brain had seen the pitch enough to just recognize it. This though requires seeing a lot of pitches, you need to see hundreds and hundreds of pitches to build up this mental database of pitches in a different location. So you have to be patient with the process, especially with a young kid. They have a very limited database. When the kids swing at a high pitch, ok now he knows in this brain that isn’t a pitch I want to swing at. But he may swing at every high pitch that comes in and it’s ok. Eventually, they will have built up enough swings at the high pitches that they will not swing at it as much, can’t stay never, because hitting is too hard. 

Training picking the ball up early, and training what a kid should be seeing when the ball is coming at them is important. As mentioned in the conversation with Dr. Fade, some hitters can seem spin, some see colors, some see the shape, so I believe all of them can be trained and when you start telling a guy you what to train seeing the spin, color or shape, then you get them completely focused. Switch it up when you are doing front toss, I think front toss is a great place to start with really focusing in on the baseball and what you are seeing in terms of spin, color. Then move into live throwing and do the same thing snow add different shapes and movement. 

The other thing that Dr. Fadde got into that I agree with, is having decision making processes during training so you can get rid of the mindless work. You can get very creative in different ways to keep theming active and keep the decision process involved at all times. When you do this, the guy will get mentally exhausted. Which they should be, they should be mentally exhausted during games.  

The next thing we talked about was visualizing the pitcher and that’s where his Game Sense Sports App comes into play. The video occlusion which basically you are seeing the pitcher and that become your form of visualization. Then tell hitters to remember what they saw from the video occlusion program into the cages. This is a really simple process to help guys with the visuzlaition process because you talk to any professional athlete and visualization is a part of their process. So it makes sense that we try and train that as well and the game sense sports app is a great place to start with this process. I highly recommend the game sense sports app for your hitters. 

What’s nice about the game sense sports app is that it gives you tons and ton of pitches to watch and different pitcher to watch and see what they are about. But Dr. Fadde says 5 minutes a day will do wonders for you as a hitter. So you guys can find 5 minutes to help your hitters get better. 

In terms of the video occlusion, lets say you cannot afford the app, what we have and do is put a net in the cage, about 10 feet in front of the thrower, and the thrower will throw pitches into the net, and to the hitter they gave to pick the ball up, and if its a fastball they swing, if its  curveball they don’t swing – stuff like that. A very valuable part of training.

When it comes to recognizing pitches, you still have to understand the count and situations and go through a process of an elimination game to get rid of pitches that you are going to try and recognize. If a guy throws 4 pitches, it will be extremely tough to try and pick up and recognize all four pitches. So you are better off, pick a pitch you are haunting for and recognize it early and do some damage. 

Getting better at pitch recognition means you do a lot of practice. In games, you want to rely on your mental database and understand that you saw a pitch before and your brain recognizes it and your body response. It is really that simple. See the ball, let your brain decide what you are going to do with your body. You are not thinking about your mechanics. The only thing you are going is seeing the ball as early as possible, and let your brain decide what to do. You always hear about guys who say they had no idea what they hit or how they did it. That’s a guy that is so lost in the baseball, and that’s where we try and get our guys too. You want to get so lost into the baseball that you have no idea what you saw or how you hit it. It’s a pretty cool feeling. 

Dr. Fadde is big as I am of sitting in on guys bullpens. You can stand in and work on seeing pitches. You can work on seeing pitches while playing catch. This is something more guys need to do and understand. You have a tremendous opportunity every single day to work on seeing the baseball out of the hand just by playing catch with your teammates. But I do think this has to be taught because very few guys know how to begin this process and you can really tell as a coach if they are doing it correctly. You can tell you picks the ball up earlier and who doesn’t just based on how they respond in the box or playing catch with a guy. So a very underutilize a technique that isn’t really taught.  

My thought on the soft to hard focus, as Dr. Bill Harrison said in an interview with him is to just keep the eyes relax and moving. Everyone is different when it comes to this, but guys have to understand different options. What are the options to how to go from soft to hard so need several different examples of how to do that and then just let a kid develop what’s best for them? But if they do not know what their options are then we are missing a huge boat in developing this. 

I ask Dr. Fadde about today’s game and guys throwing harder and strikes out being up. With guys throwing harder with more movement, the mental database isn’t as full as with guys who are low 90 guys and hitters have seen that for years and ready for it. But he brought up another good point, pitchers are being swapped so often, to do match up and you very rarely get to see a guy the second or third time in the game. So this game right now at the big league level is very challenging. But I am with Dr. Fadde and Dr. Bill that if they understood how to see the ball better and learned to slow the game down, then you would see guys improving, even 10% better at swinging at better pitches is huge when it comes to the end of the season. 

Vision isn’t the sexiest thing in training right now, but it is the most important in training. In my opinion. When a guy tells me he isn’t hitting well, I always start with how well are you seeing the baseball. Because if you are not seeing it well, then you are not picking it up well, you are not tracking it well, and you are not recognizing cue that you were previously able too. If the vision is off and you are swinging at bad pitches then yes you mechanics will fall apart. How about our first solution is to get a good ball to hit and be on time and see how much your mechanics clean up.  

Dr. Fadde and I discuss how youth baseball, coaches should be more focus on helping a kid get ready for his at-bat over coaching third base. TO me third base coaching box is a weird angle to watch hitters, but that not even the point. It is our job as coaches to teach these kids something and they need to have you in the dugout teaching how to prepare and mentally prepare for their at-bats. So let someone else coach third and teach your hitters how to get ready.

So that’s all I am going to cover with my conversation with Dr. Fadde. I am big on the vision stuff and we are going to keep doing what we do in terms of vision training and incorporating it into our training. I would highly recommend checking out game sense sports pitch recognition training app as well as checking out Dr. Fadde ebook with videos  The 6th Tool – Pitch Recognition on amazon. And of course, if you havent listentied to the conversation then you need to sdo that, you will learn. Thanks for tuning in.