Hitting With Your eYeS
Baseball is a sport with a tremendous amount of quantitative batting data being generated from batting averages, slugging percentages, and numbers of hits, walks, strike outs and a host of others. In particular, batting is an activity that has rigorous demands for eye-hand coordination requiring concentration and good visual acuity as well as depth perception.
There is general agreement that vision training is beneficial to various sports related. The time it takes for a pitched ball to reach the plate is approximately 0.4 seconds. In that time the batter needs to spot the pitch, assess rotation and direction of the ball to finally make a decision to swing or not.
When swinging the bat the batter must consider both the timing of the swing and the angle of the swing. The swing takes approximately 0.2 seconds. With the velocity of action potentials being approximately 60 m/s and approximately 2 ms needed to cross each synapse, and a minimum of 5 synapses crossed that means it can take as long as 0.03 seconds to process the swing. Therefore, there remains only about 0.17 seconds to decide to swing.
Sports vision training can help you improve your baseball game.
Sports vision is on the verge of becoming one of the most critical skills in a young athlete’s development, and players are being encouraged to do vision-based exercises. “You have to be able to pick up the speed of a fastball or the break on a curve to be an elite hitter in the majors,” says Grant Geisser, Cincinnati Reds minor league director. “It’s all about gaining that edge to be successful.”
Sports training facilities are starting to stock up with sports vision software, charts and other training equipment. Specialized personal training is available as well. There are lots of easy ways to add vision training to your regular practices. Here are some visually challenging drills that can be easily added into existing baseball and softball practices.
- Soft toss—where the coach kneels down beside the hitter and throws balls into the strike zone for the batter to hit—is easy to convert into a vision-related exercise. Here are some ways to use this helpful exercise to improve hand-eye coordination and reaction speed.
- Smaller balls and bats. Try practice golf balls or a broomstick to improve hand-eye coordination.
Colored balls. Use two or three colors of practice golf balls. Hitters can be directed to concentrate on watching the smaller ball and to react differently to the various colors. For example, a white ball could mean swing away, while a green ball means bunt.
- Numbered balls. A variation on colored balls is to cover the balls with numbers and give corresponding instructions to each.
- Multiple balls. Throw two balls and instruct the batter to hit either the top or bottom, further improving concentration and reaction time.
- Toss from behind. Instead of soft-tossing balls from beside the hitter, toss them from behind. This way, the hitter is forced to use peripheral vision to locate the ball and also has less time to react.
- Closed eyes. Instruct the batter to keep his or her eyes closed until the ball has been tossed. At this point, the batter is instructed to open his or her eyes and locate the ball immediately for improved location and reaction time.
It takes 400 milliseconds to blink and to see, swing, and hit a 95 mph fastball. To hit such a fast pitch a hitters foveae is critical.
The fovea is responsible for sharp central vision (also called foveal vision), which is necessary in humans for activities where visual detail is of primary importance, such as hitting a baseball! The fovea helps a hitter see the seams, spin, and color of a pitched ball. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fovea_centralis)