Understanding the Cognitive Process
I feel as though developing a better understanding of the actual process involved in hitting is crucial to self-improvement as a hitter or hitting coach. If the sequence below is true, then recognition is king among focus topics in training for hitting and most sports where reaction is the major factor in performance. Let’s take a look at the sequence of the Fantastic Four:
Eyes track, read, and lead the rest of the body. True timing really happens here. Not everyone has the same visual abilities. For this reason, two people with identical swing mechanics and similar athletic coor- dination will not hit with the same consistency. A hitter's hand speed and barrel accuracy/efficiency are a direct result of great eyes or Visual Speed. Coordinating the eyes with the hands and barrel become more difficult at higher levels of play – mainly because there is less time to evaluate and predict point of contact. Visual Acuity is the one variable often overlooked, and under-developed at every level of competition.
2 and 3 can happen simultaneously But let’s look at them individually. The Kinematic Sequence is the flow of the energy from the ground through the back foot (big-toe) up to the hip flexor. This is a reflex that power hitters must learn to harness correctly. Positioning the back foot to move in a specific direction results in how efficient the Hip Flexor can transfer that power into the barrel.
I think so many good hitting coaches get stuck on what a swing should look like and limit how many hitters they can make better. The realization that hitters will vary in how they look and still get it done is important for being an effective teacher. You learn from hitters who may do things differently (and still get it done), and then you can help more hitters to be successful and help you actually win games. I mean, that’s the whole point anyway, right? –getting it done? Or would you rather a hitter continue to do it “your way” and continue to struggle?
The brain evaluates pitches (in-flight), anticipates angles, and decides the best possible angle to contact. The brain is able to make these calculated predictions of the point of collision based on visual stimuli, perception, and years of stored data.
The Hands react/respond to whatever the eyes perceive. Now the word perceive is tricky because there are so many different perceptions. Three different hitters can have 3 different perceptions of the same pitch. The correlation between the eyes and hands is what makes a hitter good. Period!
| Rob Crews is based in Southern New York, and is one of the most sought after hitting coaches in the country. He is the Author of the book, Complete Game: The Emotional Dynamics of In-Game Focus.Rob provides consultant services for hitting coaches and develops hitting models for professional, olympic, and amateur softball and baseball programs. He served as the hitting coach for USSSA Pride (NPF) in their 2010 championship season, along with Tim Walton (UF), and Beth Torina (LSU).
As a consultant to companies like SKLZ, AXIS Bats, Bratt Sports, and MicroGate USA, Rob is continually developing comprehensive accelerated training systems that involve modern sports psych, neuromechanics, and visual strategies for efficiency in recognition and tracking.
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