Almost all sports enthusiasts agree that the hardest thing to do in sports is hit a baseball. The main reason it's so difficult is because hitters have only a fraction of a second to recognize the pitch, determine if it's going to be a ball or a strike, decide whether to swing, and then launch their swing to make solid contact with the ball. In fact, for a 90 mph fastball, a hitter has less than 400 milliseconds to react.
One of the most crucial parts of the process is pitch recognition. If the hitter can't recognize what pitch was thrown in about 50 milliseconds, he's either going to swing and miss or take a pitch that he should have swung at.
Baseball vision training is often overlooked by coaches, because it's incredibly difficult to simulate game speed pitches during practice. As a coach who has worked with all ages and levels of baseball hitters, I have been searching for the best way to teach proper pitch recognition for over a decade.
An "aha" moment for me was in 2005 (No. 5 NAIA team in the country) when, after hitting a home run, one of our catchers commented, "Man, it sure makes hitting easy when you see the pitch out of the pitcher's hand." That comment made an impact on me and my training, and I've shared it with young players ever since.
As coaches, we want our players to have the proper knowledge, information, and resources they need to succeed as early as possible in their careers.
With my athletes, I found it effective to use applications that help train them to recognize the patterns of pitches, which is critical as batters get older and the pitchers get better.
I got really excited when I recently discovered a new software application designed specifically to help baseball players improve their pitch recognition, through baseball vision training. The website is SeamTrak.com, and it looks like something completely original and on the cutting edge of technology.
SeamTrak is an interactive application that works a lot like a video game for pitch recognition. A spinning baseball appears on the screen for a short amount of time and the user must decide which pitch is shown. As you advance through SeamTrak, it gets more difficult: the size of the ball decreases and so does the amount of time you have to watch the ball before it disappears.
SeamTrak helps baseball vision training in order to better recognize:
- 4-seam fastballs
- 2-seam fastballs
Along with the competitive training mode, which allows you to compete against all SeamTrak users, there is a video library that does a great job of explaining the differences among the various pitches.
For example, one of the most common problems hitters have is the inability to see the difference between a 4-seam fastball and a change-up. That's why so many hitters swing through change-ups. They look very similar to 4-seam fastballs, but there can be a 10 to 14 mph different in speed!
SeamTrak is the most impressive vision training tool I've ever seen. It's also the only one I've seen that really works! It has the ability to help youth players gain an edge or MLB players, who want to get hundreds of virtual reps in just a few minutes.
Try it for free at SeamTrak.com
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock