More about seeing and anticipating the ball
A few weeks ago I wrote about an interesting video on YouTube showing soccer player Cristiano Reynaldo scoring goals in the dark. In that post I suggested a way to apply it to hitting by closing your eyes just after the pitch is thrown.
I have to admit, though, it was just theoretical when I wrote it. Being the adventurous type, however, I decided to take my own advice and give it a try with a few hitting students. Here’s what I found out.
It actually does work — with an older, more experienced hitter. Generally speaking, hitters with good mechanics who are 16 or older are capable of recognizing the path of the ball off front toss and making adjustments after closing their eyes right after the pitch is thrown. I did it throwing to different locations, and the ones who were successful were able to hit most of them. And not just tip it, but hit through the ball.
Younger players, however, had much more difficulty. They tended not to recognize where the ball was headed and would just guess.
That makes sense. I heard John Tschida talk about the stack of mental index cards players have that allow them to recognize situations and patterns more readily. The longer they play, the bigger that stack gets.
Seems like that was at work here. More experienced players have a better feel for where the ball is headed with minimal information because they’ve seen more pitches. They can tell by the arm circle, or the way the hand is pointed, or the first split second of travel where the ball is headed.
It was also a lesson for those older players, however. I told them if they were capable of doing that, imagine what they could do if they put that much effort into seeing the ball out of the hand and then still being able to see it as it comes in. That made sense to them.
So give it a try – and let us know if you get the same results.