When it comes to hitting a baseball, and executing a perfect swing, there is so much emphasis on mechanics. Enter VR Baseball training. Now you can simulate and rehearse success while focusing on the key aspects of seeing the ball out of the pitcher's hand.
Mechanics are important but matter less when the approach is off, confidence is low, or when we're not seeing the ball as well as we possibly can.
As hitters, we're only as good as the pitches we swing at. Our approach matters. The mental chatter in our heads also matters. Our ability to be focused, present, and on time on every single pitch is one of the biggest differentiators in adjusting to elite-level pitches like high velo fastball and nasty sliders.
One of Applied Vision Baseball's missions was to bring baseball home with the world's first IOS-based advanced at-home experience app. It's time to get in the batter's box, simulate real game experiences, and reinforce your approach to building confidence at the plate.
Addressing the approach and visual side is hard.
Focusing on mechanics is easy.
What’s the best stance?
How should my swing look and feel?
What should my hands do?
Ultimately - hitting is about putting the sweet spot of the bat on the ball.
Sometimes - we make hitting harder than it needs to be, Which leads me to an important question…
Question: "Why is pitch recognition so important?"
Answer: "You can have all the confidence in the world, and the sweetest swing on the planet, but if you’re not seeing the ball well as you possibly can - you’re confidence will shrink and your mechanics will break down."
Barry Bonds Vision Training
As hitters, we’re only as good as the pitches we swing at.
I remember hearing a story about Barry Bond’s process when he first would arrive for spring training with the giants.
He wouldn't pick up a bat. He wouldn't take swings in the cage. Instead - He would just grab his glove, step in on a pitcher’s bullpen and try to catch the ball. He was working on his looks.
His focus was to See the ball out of the pitcher’s hand as well as he could.
Keeping their head quiet so his eyes could work. His priority for the day was his visual tempo.
If you want to play at the next level, you need reps, at-bats, and looks.
Enter Baseball VR training.
Hitting is about being on time, pitching is about upsetting that timing. Our job is to be on time on every single pitch.
The goal is simple.
Once we step into the box, the hitting-critic shuts off.
Our goal is to be focused, present, and on time.
Here are ways you can see the ball better, as well as some ways you can do it in both VR and Non-vr vision training sessions.
With the Head tracking VR drill, you can train to get the foot down while seeing the ball out of the pitcher’s hand until it’s in the zone.
Minimal head movement allows you to see the ball more efficiently.
This is something you can measure and manage.
A hitter has on average around 400 ms to recognize the spin, speed and location of the ball.
With the Visual Acuity Drill, we use the vision measurement tool known by eye physicians as the Landolt C shape as a way to measure and train your pattern recognition skills in a controlled environment at game speeds.
In the swing trigger training drill, hitters can work on their early pitch recognition skills.
Measuring how early and accurate they’re seeing the ball out of the pitcher’s hand while also reinforcing a selective aggressive mindset.
Yes, yes, no on a ball, yes, yes GO! on a strike.
Ultimately - great hitters aren’t swinging at where the ball is early in the zone. They’re swinging at where the ball will be at point of contact.
Great hitters are masters at predicting the direction of a moving object and then meeting it where they predict it will be, leveraging their hand-eye coordination skillset.
This is Saccadic eye movement and just one of the dozens of vision training skills you can develop.
5 bad baseball habits and how to fix them in VR
Success is a habit. Our ability to stay in the "process" of the game, is everything. We can begin by understanding the things we do that take us away from reaching peak performance on the field.
Here are five common ones.
1. Focusing on things outside of your control.
The game is chock-full of things you can’t control bro.
What your coach says. Line drives that are hit right at someone. A blown call from the umpire. An injury. A bad hop. Even failures that exist in the past.
None are within your control. When you try to control them, it diminishes your performance.
Identify the things you CAN control, then compete your tail off.
hint: it starts with having a process and prioritizing your preparation. Get this part right, everything else will take care of itself.
2. Pulling pitches you have no business puling.
If you can’t drive the ball oppo with authority, you are nothing but a dressed-up out.
Use the whole field. Think: line drives up the middle.
3. Internalize criticism and take firm coaching personally.
Best case scenario, the coach is riding you because he wasn’t you to improve.
Worst case scenario, the coach is riding you to get rid of you.
In either case, there is an opportunity. A chance to develop a real love for adversity.
Instead of taking it personally, lean into it.
4. Making the game about yourself.
This game isn’t about you. Period.
Build your teammates up. Throw up as many high fives as you can.
When you look back, you’ll have a sense of pride that you played the game the right way. This will influence your relationships as an adult in more ways than you can imagine.
5. Use the past as a reference to predict future performance.
Yesterday does not dictate what you can achieve today. Just because you failed in your last at-bat, it does not mean you will in this at-bat.
In all, being focused, present and on time begins when we can focus on the results that we want, ignoring the results we don’t. This is mental toughness.
Pitch Selection Made Simple
Pitch selection can be simple.
As hitters, our job is to be on time by hunting and sitting on the right
You don't have to reinvent the wheel or “out-think” the pitcher.
You just need to pay close attention.
Most pitchers want to get ahead. So you'll often see Fastballs down and away early in the count.
Be aggressive early and keep your finger on the Swing Trigger.
Most pitchers will double up on the pitch you missed, got beat on, or looked foolish on. If you got beat on the Fastball or lunged at the Curveball, you'll probably get a steady dose of that pitch until you prove you can adjust.
A 2-2 pitch-to-contact Curveball is common, especially with a ground ball pitcher or double-play situation.
Pitchers will nibble on the corners or elevate out of the zone 0-2, so make sure you're not chasing even though you're expanding the zone.
Ultimately, you have to let the type of swing you take, and the pitches you swing at be dictated by the situation of the game.
The focus is to get a good pitch to hit. Watch the pitcher.
Don't get cheated by the Fastball.
How To Fix Your Timing
It's really hard to be successful at the plate if your timing is off.
If hitting is about being on time, and it is, then pitching is about upsetting that timing.
The question is “how do we show up on time with the Fastball while staying back on the off-speed consistently?” Here are a few concepts.
With the Fastball, we can:
- start sooner.
- get our foot down early with a post stride.
- look away and take anything middle in until two strikes.
- look in and take anything middle away until two strikes.
- have our finger on the Swing Trigger. Think: "Yes, yes, no
on a ball. Yes, yes, Go!” on a strike.
- assume the next pitch is going to be a strike.
With the off-speed or breaking ball, we can:
- post-up, see it early & stay back.
- see the spin, speed & shade, then adjust.
- load late with an oppo-approach
- not miss the Fastball. (sometimes, the best way to hit the
off-speed is to hit the Fastball when you get it.)
Have a rhythm. Show up on time. Be athletic.
Three Tips To Hitting Elite-Level Pitching
Eddie Murray used to say, "They should change the name of baseball to “Adjustments” because you make so many of them at the highest level."
I tend to agree.
If you want a chance at hitting elite-level pitching consistently, you need to make adjustments.
Here are three.
1. Be aggressive early.
Elite pitching gets more challenging the deeper you get in the count.
Sometimes, it's better to be aggressive early, so you're not hitting on your heels with your back against the wall constantly - even if you're tough with two.
Be aggressive early. The pitcher is trying to get ahead. That means they'll probably try and establish the Fastball first for a strike or the pitch they have the most "feel" for.
2. Keep The Finger On The Swing TriggerTM
Think "yes, yes, no." on a ball and "yes, yes, GO!" on a strike.
Assume the next pitch is going to be the best pitch you'll see all day because it might be.
As my mentor, Steve Springer would say, "it's a strike until it's not."
3. Do damage on the mistake pitch.
When you're hunting the Fastball, and the pitcher leaves a breaking ball up in the zone, you'll have a better chance of recognizing the pitch because you've zoned up.
It's easier to look up and then adjust down the same way it's easier to look away and adjust in.
Have a plan. Execute the plan. Compete your tail off. Win the at-bat.
Progress Over Perfection
0-4 with four strikeouts?
Focus on the adjustment. Think progress over perfection.
Booted a routine ground ball?
Focus on the next play. Think progress over perfection.
Not in the starting lineup?
Ask what you need to do to break in the lineup and stay there. Think progress over perfection.
Give yourself permission to NOT be perfect, but make preparation a non-negotiable.
Always be thinking "Progress over perfection."
Trends vs. Principles
Hitting trends change from decade to decade, but hitting principles will never change.
Some of the hitting principles that will never change are:
- hitting the ball to all parts of the field.
- keeping the head still.
- proper load & separation.
- controlled-aggressive swings.
- balanced at point of contact.
- bat-head staying on pitch-plane, early and often.
In the year 2080, when the umpires are A.I. robots and draft picks are chosen from proprietary algorithms that predict injuries, their emotional makeup at 30, or when they will retire - hitting tactics will still evolve, but hitting principles will stay the same.
Turning On the Inside Fastball
A good pitcher and catcher will keep throwing you inside until you can prove that you can handle pitches out in front of the plate.
As hitters, we have to understand that hitting and being on time is give and take.
The more on time we are on the Fastball inside, the more susceptible we will be to the breaking ball and pitches away.
If we want to prove that we can handle the pitch middle-in, we have to commit fully.
It starts with:
- hunting the fastball middle in.
- starting sooner.
- letting the hips clear so the hands can pull through the
- getting the bat head "out front."
All of this has to happen while recognizing and spitting on anything away or breaking down in the zone.
BASEBALL VR TRAINING
More than anything our goal is to make you the user, and rehearse success in a controlled environment.
We know that when we’re confident, we play well, so the goal is simple. To help you approach your at-bats in real-life feeling like you’ve already succeeded.
That’s all I got.
What’s been your experience with virtual reality?
Have you ever tried it? If so, lemme know in the comments below.
Be and stay a student of the game.
VR BASEBALL FAQ
Absolutely. The main benefit that baseball VR training will provide ballplayers is the ability to rehearse success at game speeds in a controlled environment. Imagine the edge a hitter will have when they've executed a month's worth of at-bats in one VR baseball training session.
Applied Vision Baseball is set to launch its VR training in Oculus. Currently, you can download the VR training app in the IOS App store.
You betcha! You can train in virtual reality by signing up at appliedvisionbaseball.com and downloading the IOS app.