Have you ever hit well in practice… only to struggle in real games?
If so, you are not alone.
This is one of the most common struggles that we as baseball players deal with.
At Pro Baseball Insider and on our email list, we share a lot of free baseball instruction from professional baseball players.
But this particular one is personal for me.
When I played for the Twins, I had gone more than a week without a hit.
I was desperate.
But thankfully, my manager at the time – Gene Glynn – came to the rescue (Thank you, Gene!).
I’ll tell you the rest of the story in the video, but basically…
…this was when I had one of the biggest “ah hah” moments of my 16 year playing career.
It was so SIMPLE
…but it made me a better hitter forever after that moment.
That’s why, regardless of how you feel about launch angle, swing path, or any of the other endless hitting debates…
…there is ONE THING we can all agree on.
You can’t hit what you can’t see.
In my 16 years of playing professional baseball, I discovered that there are a surprising number of ways that we baseball players sabotage ourselves…
…by unknowingly hurting our ability to SEE the ball.
Things like posture (during the swing), or how our stride moves our head around…
…if not done properly, can keep us from having the clear vision we need to enable our body to react efficiently and have proper hand-eye coordination.
(Hitting is already considered one of the most difficult things in sports.The last thing we need is to make it needlessly MORE difficult!)
In this video I’m about to share with you with 5 keys seeing the ball better…
The very first tip #1 will give you instant results, and you’ll be shocked at how easy it is.
Yours in baseball,
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Begin transcript (below) for video: How to see the ball better when hitting
[Below is a transcript WITH TITLES AND CLARIFICATIONS ADDED.
Scroll up ⬆ to watch the video]
“Hey guys, hope you’re having a great week. My name is Doug Bernier and in this video I’m going to give you the
one thing that we can all agree on is more important than the mechanics of your swing and that is seeing the
Okay, hold on a minute.
Don’t just turn this off and say, Hey, this is really basic. I don’t need to watch this.
Stay with me for a second.
All right, so we all know that guy, right That in practice can launch baseball’s great batting practice guy, but once he steps into the, once he gets into the game, he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of aboat. Right?
It goes to seeing the baseball.
Now, a quick little story for you guys.
In 2013 I was with the Minnesota Twins. I didn’t make the team out of spring training. I go to aaa about a week, week, 10 days into the season, I’m
I had a leg kick, I wasn’t synced up, nothing was right.
My manager brings me out on the field early and he sets up a machine and we just start bunting.
I’m just sitting there, I’m bunting, bunting, bunting. Then he said, okay, pull it back, let slug bunt.
So I just did this and just started swinging. Sure enough, I started hitting line drives and those line drives turned into two hoppers off the wall. He told me, he’s like, hey man, you got nothing to lose. You haven’t got a hit in a week. So I did it and my first at bat I was like, I’m just going to sell out and try it. So, I’m a little nervous walking into the box because everyone in the dugout knows I’m going to about to slug bumped with no one on base and the first inning they’re laughing at me.
But I didn’t care. I was willing to try anything.
So I get in the box. Sure enough I turned this back foot like I’m going to been. But I didn’t quite sell out because no one was on. And you know, you got a little pride in it, you know, we all do. So I, I kind of brought it back and I was just kind of given at one of these.
Well, what happened was I just sunk into my legs first pitch. All I did was bring my barrel back. I didn’t stride, I didn’t try to get bat speed. I didn’t try to open up the hips. I did nothing but see the baseball. I took the barrel to the ball. Sure enough, I hit a double off the top of the left center wall.
That game I up going five for five. I’ve never seen the ball better in my life.
I was able to pick up sliders, early change ups, basketballs. I laid off pitches off the plate. I saw the ball. Well, that was probably the first time I actually watched the ball come out of the pitcher’s hand with both eyes. I know that seems crazy, but I’ve met. That was the first time I really noticed how well I could see the baseball. All right, so do a little trick for me. When you’re playing catch, just kinda throw a ball to each other. You have both eyes on the ball, right And you catch it now, cover one eye and see what happens. That’s not easy to catch the ball.
You lose depth perception.
It’s really hard to catch the ball. Most of us look at the pitcher with one eye, so if we can’t catch a ball that’s being lobbed to us underhand with one eye open, how are we able to hit like that?
We need to be able to see the ball with both eyes.
Now as we move up in the game and we work on more things and we try to hone our swing, we work on mechanics. There’s a lot of things we’re doing right. The thing that often gets overlooked and pushed to the back burner is seeing the baseball. It seems so basic, so juvenile that we don’t even consider it anymore. But if you think about it, what was the very first thing you heard when you were first started playing the game Either from your coach or a parent or whoever. Hey, see the ball, see the ball and hit it.
That’s some of the best advice you’ll ever get.
See the baseball.
So now when going to go through five ways to help you see the ball baseball a little bit better.
5 Keys for How to see the ball better when hitting
All right, so the five keys to seeing the ball better.
See the ball better – Summary of all 5 tips
- Number one, we’re going to look at the pitcher with both eyes.
- Number two, we’re gonna maintain our posture throughout our swing.
- Number three, we’re going to make sure that our head and our eyes are on a level plane throughout our entire swing.
- Number four, we want to be able to control our head during our load and once our heel strikes the ground, our front heel strikes the ground. Those are two major points of the swing and we want to make sure those are controlled, that keeps our eyes a level still and it doesn’t shake our eyes around.
- And number five, we want to pick up the release point out of the pitcher’s hand. There’s a little viewing window just outside, depending on whatever his arm slot is. We want to focus our eyes to that window before he gets there so we can see the ball as well and as early as possible.
So let’s go into him a little bit more.
See the ball better – Tip #1 – Head Position
1 – Both eyes on pitcher
This one is actually easier to mess up – and a more common problem – than you might think.
Number one, looking at the pitcher with both eyes, what we’re looking to do here, a trick that was taught to me and that I like personally is all getting the
box and as I’m getting ready I’ll actually look at the third basement or the third base coach and then bring my eyes back to the pitcher when I start.
Just kind of what I’m just kind of looking at the plate and I worked my way up. I have a tendency of just putting my left eye on the pitcher. Now I noticed that because like I’ll close an eye every now and then I’ll close my left eye.
My right eye is not looking at the pitcher, so that’s why instead of taking my
vision from home plate to the Pitcher, I actually do my thing where address home plate, I get up there and now from here my head is level.
I turn and look at the third basement or third base coach and then I bring my eyes back to the pitcher and from there both eyes are on the pitcher. One other thing that does it gets my head upright.
If I’m down this way, if I go from here and work my way up, sometimes my head stays here. Now when we read a book or a paper or whatever, we don’t read like this, right We read like that. So let’s have our head in the posture that we’re most comfortable with.
See the ball better – Tip #2 – Posture is important for many reasons. One of them is minimizing head movement so you can see the baseball better when hitting
Number two, maintaining our posture.
Now when we talk about posture, you’re going to be able to see it from this camera angle.
What we want is we want our but behind our heels and we want to have a slight bend to us with our upper body.
From here, we’re in a balanced position.
See the ball better – Tip #3 – Don’t dip your head during your swing
Number three, we want to keep our eyes and our head on a level plane the entire way, so I had a lot of problems
with this one.
This one was a hard for me. I noticed when I just went forward, I was okay. My head stayed here, my eyes saw the ball well because my head and eyes were on the same trajectory. That’s okay. It’s okay to go forward.
There’s a lot of good things that happened from going forward.
First we want to hit off of our backside. We don’t want to just sit here on the backside and spin and swing up hill. We don’t want that, so we have to get off our backside.
At least we want to get to 50 slash 50, so if we have our weight on the back, we want to get so we have our weight centered so now we can rotate with some ease in our, in our movements happen naturally, but when we move and also when we move forward we are hands get away from our body a little bit and gives us room so our hands can work properly behind us.
That’s very important so that’s why we want to get off of our backside or at least get the 50 slash 50. Now as we’re moving forward, we want to be careful. We don’t want to go down and then push off. If we do that, at least for me, a lot of times I would go down, I would go forward and as I would swing I would tend to straighten up a little bit.
So now my head is going this way this way and that way. That makes it very tough on your eyes. It makes it really hard to pick up the ball so when we go forward it’s okay to go forward, but stay on that level plane, keep that head still and make sure that if you do go forward that it’s.
That it’s not bobbing up and down.
See the ball better – Tip #4 – How to keep your head still and your eyes from bouncing around during your baseball swing
Number four, controlling our head during our load and when our front foot heel hits the ground so when we load, if we get another problem I had when I didn’t have good posture and when I was having a big load, I did everything.
I went from a foot down to a wide out guy to open stance and I’m big leg kick. I’ve tried everything so.
But when I was, when I had a big leg kick, what would happen And sometimes I didn’t always control it well so it would get here and I would come this way. My head would push back and then I would fall on my head. Did a lot of things. But what happened was when I could control this load and I would get into my back hip and not over my back foot.
Now my head was able to stay still.
Which obviously then my eyes stay still and I can pick up the ball a little better, so I would be in this position from here, I could see the ball better. Now another thing we got to worry about is when our front foot hits the ground, if our timings late, if we are just fast and rigid or for whatever the reason, there’s multiple multiple reasons why, but if this front foot hits the ground hard, I shake our head moves so we want to make sure that we control our load, but when our front foot hits the ground, especially a heel, strike that it is a soft landing.
It’s not hard. It’s not a group. It’s not super aggressive and quick. It’s got some rhythm and some fluidity and some ease to it. So when we put it down, we’re ready to go. We see the ball well.
See the ball better – Tip #5 – Where am I supposed to look when I’m in the batter’s box?
All right, so how to see the ball better baseball tip number five is picking the ball in the hand up at release point out of the viewing window.
So what do I mean by that?
Now a big question I get a lot actually thrown at me is where am I supposed to look when I’m in the batter’s box, so what helped me, what worked for me was when I would get in the box and I would address home plate, I would look here up at the pitchers at the emblem on his hat. I would give a nice soft focus, soft focus.
I’m not straining too hard. My eyes are blinking, I’m relaxed. I’m not worried too much, but that’s where my eyes were focused.
As he starts to go through his motion. I see from the side, I’ve been watching them. Maybe I had previous at bats against them. I know where his arm angle is. I know if he’s over the top. I know if he’s three quarters sidearm underneath, whatever, but I try as he’s moving through his motion, I shift my site from the emblem to that angle or to that window, the throwing window where his release point is. From there I’m locked in. I got a hard focus. I’m able to really look hard and I’m trying to see the ball as it’s coming out of that window.
I’m able to see spin. I’m able to see maybe the fingers are different on the baseball, seeing the b ball behind it. There’s a lot of things you can find when you look at that window. Now obviously I know there are some pitchers that changed their arm angle.
You got to do the best you can, but most pitchers have a consistent are mangled or throwing from, so just shift your focus, your soft focus from the emblem of the hat to a harder, more intense focus to that throwing release point window. If you can do that, you’re going to see the ball a little bit crisper, crisper, and a little bit easier.
What do you see on your takes Especially see how well you can see the ball instead of just seeing the white baseball. See if you can see the seams on the baseball or the type of spin on the baseball or see if you can even find one of the logos on the baseball. Obviously that’s not gonna happen, but having that more intense focus is going to dial up the, the, the site, the intensity, the vision a little bit more so if we can look for something smaller, it’s
It’s going to increase our focus when we’re looking for the baseball, so those five things are really important when it comes to seeing the baseball and that’s something you can take right away, implement it and see results tomorrow.
So don’t underestimate one of the first things that you heard when you were a kid. See the ball and hit it. See the ball is the most important thing you can do. It’s more important than any mechanical thing that you can work on and if you can see the ball, you can hit it. Good luck and go get them out there guys.
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