MLB.com Digital Academy Instructional of the Week – November 4
By Dr. Bill and Ryan Harrison
Baseball is a great game. It’s a game you can play, be a fan, a coach or a parent of a player for most of your life.
But it is not an easy game. It is challenging.
One of the biggest challenges is hitting. It takes a lot of skill-sets to be a good hitter. To be a skilled hitter what do you think is the number one thing you need to master?
“Hit the ball.”
“Hit a good pitch.”
“Use a good swing.”
“See the ball.”
All are important and worthwhile answers, but number one is likely getting comfortable. However, getting comfortable is closely connected to your ability to see the ball.
The second thing you need to be able to do is see the ball. Seeing the ball takes place in advance of a good swing, hitting a good pitch or hitting the ball.
What do you see when you look out at the pitcher?
Where are you looking when you look out at the pitcher?
Some things you should know:
Every pitcher has a release point. It is relatively near the same spot on each ball the pitcher throws; however, inexperienced pitchers will have a greater range of release points.
From the dugout and in the on deck circle you should make a habit of identifying just exactly where is the ball released. How high off of the ground? How far to either side?
On the bench, tap your leg the moment the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand. Strive for perfection. Then tap your leg the moment the ball hits the bat of the hitter or the catcher’s glove. When the hitter swings and misses you will have 3 taps. When the hitter doesn’t swing you will have two taps. To do this accurately you have to watch the ball carefully. You have to watch it as soon as it is released and stay with it, tracking it until it hits the bat or the catcher’s glove. Strive for perfect timing. Instead of Strive for perfection.
When you’re on deck with your hands on the bat, give the same attention to the pitcher’s release point. Be aware of the rhythm and timing of the pitcher’s overall motion, but as the pitcher releases the pitch aim your eyes directly at the ball. See exactly what it looks like as it is released. Can you see the seams of the ball spinning? Can you see the position of the pitcher’s fingers on the ball as it is released? Can you ignore the pitcher’s motion and concentrate on the ball? Can you do the same with left-handed and right-handed pitchers?
While on deck, track the ball all the way to home plate. Attempt to measure the speed of the pitch with your eyes. Is every pitch the same speed?
Now that you have seen the pitches well, go to home plate with the intention of hitting the ball hard by swinging your bat so that the sweet spot hits the middle of the ball as it gets into your zone.
Dr. Bill Harrison and his son Ryan are contributing writers for MLB.com Digital Academy and pioneers in the field of Sports Vision with an emphasis on baseball. Both have spent years working with MLB players and teams such as the Kansas City Royals, Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays, and Los Angeles Dodgers. Together they developed the myVision training software available at MLB.com Digital Academy. For more on the Harrisons and their work, visit SlowTheGameDown.com.