Successful and confident athletes have positive images of themselves in their heads. They “see” themselves being successful at whatever they undertake. It is a positive mindset that will prepare the player for games, tough situations, and the future. Creating images in one’s head to build confidence and to see what will occur on the field of play is called visualization. It is widely used by athletes and successful people in almost every walk of life. See it and you will do it!
The mind does not distinguish between what is real and what is imagined, hence, visualization prepares one for what will happen and, thus be enhanced/prepared for the actual. Visualization allows one to rehearse the performance before-hand, making the player more comfortable and confident when it comes time to actually perform/play! Roberto Clemente (HOF) recommended that a player review a mistake/error he made in a game by replaying it in his head successfully; hence, the last image is positive not negative.
Visualization is not day dreaming but “seeing” specific situations so when they occur, the player is ready to go and has already done it in his/her head. Knowing the exact situation prior to each pitch and setting the mind to react will greatly empower the player to make the play!! A great aid the night before a game or event, is to fall asleep successfully executing a line drive base hit and stretching it into a double!
Some Hints to Help:
- Pitchers: See the ball go right to the target and command the ball to go there!
- Hitters: Watch the pitcher and focus on his release point and practice swinging at that pace. On deck, work with your swing “seeing” the ball being hit where it is pitched.
- Fielders: Between pitches, see the ball being hit to you and your fielding it successfully, as you GO to the ball! In practice, imagine each ball as if it is in an actual game and play it hard and fast.
It is very simple: “See it..hit it..get it..pitch or throw it” first in your mind then
Part Two: Exercises for the Eyes
There are many exercise for increasing visual acuity and focus. The best program is to create a regular routine of doing vision exercises and getting proper rest. These drills/exercises will not only improve your baseball play BUT also your classroom and social skills!
- Have a teammate simulate a pitcher and go into his motion at regular speed. Instead of throwing a ball, have him stop at the point of release and hold up 1, 2, or 3 fingers. Batter must correctly say how many fingers he sees. Batter should begin drill by focusing on the pitcher’s hat.
- Flash a piece of paper with numbers, letter, short words(sideways, upside down, backwards, etc) in no uniform fashion to a batter. He must read them while being timed.
- A teammate holds a straw horizontally and at arm’s length. The other player must insert a toothpick into the straw. May do the same with two ball point pens…insert the point of one into the closed end of the other pen.
- Extend your arms to full length with your two index fingers facing each other; they should be about 3’4 of an inch apart. Bring the fingers, at eye level, towards you and focus on the space in between. A “third” finger tip should appear. Once it appears, pull the fingers apart slowly until the third one disappears!
- Take a bean bag and toss it in the air as you are bouncing on your toes. Do 10-15 reps. Now do it with your eyes CLOSED.
- Toss balls(softies or whiffles) from behind a batter. The batter must look straight ahead and try to hit them. Toss on a straight line without a lot of speed. Stand back far enough to give the batter a chance!
- Take old balls and put either numbers or letters on them(one number or letter but on several spots). Mix a bucket of assorted balls and throw them to a teammate. Player must call the number or letter before catching the ball. Best to use loud colors. Can do the same while hitting soft toss.
Other Focus Drills:
- Shut your eyes and count your teeth. Do it twice and see if you have the same number each time. To check, use your finger(wash first) and actually count them!
- Do soft toss and hit drills with a 1” dowel and a golf sized whiffle ball. Go smaller if you can find the balls/dowel!
- Play card toss. Email Coach Phil for the rules/directions. Improves quickness as well.
Use the Townsend Hitting Disk or ABC hitting disk.
- Play penny ball. Again, email Coach Phil. Also, play FLIP, the card game!
- Do basketball “flick” drills. Ball above head, arms hips-width apart. “Flick” the ball with your fingers back and forth, 30 reps. Will also strengthen wrists/forearms.
The first and foremost essential of being a good, consistent hitter is clear vision. You must be able to “see it, to hit it!” The drills listed below will increase visual acuity and focus. Moreover, they will help a student concentrate and improve in ALL aspects of their life, not just baseball. NOTE: Have a formal, medical EYE EXAM prior to EACH season!!
THE BROCK STRING: Focus on the V, the X, and the A. Shift focus from spot to spot. 2-4 minutes.
ROTATIONS: Use a marble, bouncy ball, and other for these drills. Hold the pan or dish 15-18” from your eyes and rotate the ball/marble, keeping your head still, while following the sphere with your eyes. Reverse the ball and repeat the exercise. 2-3 minutes.
FIXATION DRILL: Use a pencil and put it through the different sized rings. Cover an eye and step forward with the opposite foot to put the pencil through the ring without touching it. Do it with the other eye. Do it with different sized rings. Do each 2-3 times.
MARSDEN BALL: This is a ball with numbers and letters written on it. Suspend the ball at eye level while seated. Cover one eye and tap the ball lightly. Call out the letter or number you see and touch it with your finger tip. Each eye 2-3 minutes.
Place a newspaper on the wall, fifteen feet from you. Hold a similar one about 15 inches from your eyes. Focus on the headline on the wall and then back to the one 15” away. Change back and forth concentrating on seeing each.
Hit balls off a tee with a patch on one eye. Then switch to the other. Then blind fold yourself and “trust” your swing.
“Blind Swing”: Take three (3) swings with eyes open.
Take one with eyes shut.
Do 4 reps.
Trust your swing. You should visualize the ball when your eyes are shut and make the same solid contact. Head still, hands inside, relax and HIT!