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Closing Eyes When Swinging

Advice On Reader Comment: “I Have A Girl That Closes Her Eyes When She Is About To Hit The Ball”

 

 

The above video, and following copy, gives our advice on a comment from one of our readers:

“I have a girl that closes her eyes when she is about to hit the ball?”Closing Eyes When Swinging

…we’ll go over…

  • What we can learn from Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Terminator,
  • Swinging across face,
  • Hitting a heavy bag,
  • Wiffle ball bats and balls,
  • Hammers, nails, and clapping, and
  • Repetition.

Hey what’s going on? It is Joey Myers from ‘Hitting Performance Lab’ again. In this video, I’m going to answer another reader question. This is actually an interesting one, and it’s one that I actually don’t see in lot of hitters, but I do occasionally see it. The reader comment we give advice on is: “I have a girl that closes her eyes when she is about to hit the ball”.

Now obviously, vision is a big part of this game – tracking the ball is a big part of baseball and softball. So, that would be something that we want to try and see if we can train into our swings. The moral of the story is repetition.  It just takes repetition. A lot of times the hitters that don’t take a lot of swings, on their own at home or whatever, they tend to kind of do this.

 

What we can Learn from Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Movie Terminator

So, we have to get them the right repetitions. I want to start off with just a quick story on Arnold Schwarzenegger in his book, his autobiography ‘Total Recall’, talked about a time when he was talking to I think was James Cameron, whoever the producer was, or I think it was director of ‘The Terminator’. The first one, and it was supposed to cast Arnold, this is after he got off the movie Conan the Barbarian, did pretty well with that. Started to become a rising star, and they were gonna cast Arnold as John Connor in Terminator 1, the guy in the future that comes back to try and stop the machines from taking over the world.

So, Arnold Schwarzenegger is supposed to be the good guy, and OJ Simpson ironically was supposed to be the bad guy. He was going to be the Machine. Arnold was sitting there at lunch with James Cameron, whoever the director was going to be, and they were talking. Arnold was saying “Hey, The Terminator is a machine, so tell OJ, coach him that when he shoots a gun or pulls a trigger or whatever loud sounds, his eyes can’t blink, he can’t blink. For those of you out there who haven’t read ‘Total Recall’ maybe don’t know that Arnold was actually in the Austrian army when he was younger, drove tank. He’s very versed, and has been around a lot of guns being shot off, cannons going off, and different things like that.

So, he’s giving James Cameron all these tips to give to OJ, and James Cameron goes “you know what, why don’t you be the Terminator, you know so much about being a machine”. Arnold was like “No, no, no”. He didn’t want to do it because he didn’t want to get typecast as the bad guy. But actually, hindsight being fifty-fifty, that was actually a good move by him. That’s what he ended up doing.

The idea of blinking, right. You can see it encapsulated in that Arnold Schwarzenegger story where you got a guy like OJ, who’s never been around that before, shooting guns and all this at least not till later right. You have Arnold who was trained in the Austrian military. So, you have Arnold who put in the repetition, OJ did not. This is why repetition is kind of the underbelly of a lot of the things that we’ll talk about in this video.

 

Swinging Across the Face

So, one of the first things though that could be an issue, and I’ve seen in local or some of my online hitters on video, is when I see the eyes closing, I also see the head turning. What Matt Notes calls ‘Chasing your face’, like there are swings chasing their face or pulling their head off the ball, pulling their head out. What they have to make sure that they’re doing first, because it doesn’t matter if they are closing their eyes, turning their head this way, is just as bad as closing their eyes. If you fix the eyes from closing at impact and major leaguers probably do this too, I don’t know if all of them, maybe they all keep their eyes open at impact. But you’re gonna see some blinking going on, but not right before impact. You’re not going to see this.

But you’ve got to make sure you should correct the head, so we want to make sure we’re swinging across our face. It’s not head pointing at the plate, swinging across our face like say Nolan Arenado. Our head actually, it’s gonna be somewhere, our nose and chin, it’s gonna be somewhere out in front of impact. We cannot see impact with the center part of our vision, we see it out of the corner of our eye. We want the head to be somewhere out in front of impact, out in front of the plate. Then we want them to swing across their face, not chase their face. So, that’s number one, and I’ll have a video link, or a link to another blog post where I talk about swinging across your face. Again, Matt Notes came up with that.

If you’re watching this on YouTube, just go down to the About section, click the link, go to the regular post, and the link should be in there. ‘Swinging across your face’. So, that’s number one…

 

Hitting a Heavy Bag

Also, you can get good practice about hitting something with the bat, again think Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austrian army, shooting a lot of guns. By hitting a heavy bag with a bat or with your fists, then you get used to trying to see the bat or fist hit the bag. Getting used to that and trying to keep the eyes open while doing it. Again, repetition is key, and it’s not hundreds of swings a day. It’s what I tell my hitters, four days a week, five minutes each day, that’s all I tell them.

So, if you just worked on this, if this was a big issue, eyes are closing at impact and before impact, then I would say probably within two to three weeks, you’re gonna see a major change in your softball player, your baseball player’s swing. So, hitting the heavy bag is number one, you don’t have to worry about hitting the ball, about missing it, it’s actually a object that’s there, it’s big, they know they’re gonna hit it. So, they can practice with the eyes being open at impact.

 

Wiffle ball bats and balls

The other thing is Wiffle balls and bats. Wiffle balls and bats are light, it’s meant to be light, it’s not gonna hurt them, they’re not gonna feel a lot of recoil from the ball off the bat. So, there’s really nothing to be afraid of if they get hit by the Wiffle ball, it doesn’t really hurt that bad, hopefully you’re not chucking it at them. Because it can hurt, but if you’re not chucking it at them, if they’re having a hard time with blinking their eyes, then you want to be kind and soft with the training at the beginning.

So, Wiffle balls and bats, get them used to, try to get them to, keep their eyes open. They don’t have to necessarily need to see the ball hit the bat, but they have to keep their eyes open at impact when the wiffle bat and the ball collide.

So, that’s another way that you can spend your four days a week, five minutes each day.

 

Hammers, Nails, and Clapping

The other thing is pretty simple, if you have a tool shed at your house or in the garage…maybe you’re big into making stuff, carpentry and you have hammers and nails, best to do this. Because almost similar to hitting, the only thing is you’re hitting a stationary object but you’re taking the hammer, and you’re trying to pound that nail, just put nails out in a stump, if you got an old stump just like the old game who could sink the nail with one hit. Where you’re knocking the nail in, and have her or him, the hitter, practice hitting that nail and keeping their eyes open, and trying to see the contact point of the hammer, the head of the hammer, and the head of the nail.

Another way that you can do that, ‘Clapping’ is another way.  So clapping, try to keep your eyes open as you are clapping instead of blinking the eyes. Clap until they can do it, and have their eyes open during that motion. So, that’s another way to help kind of condition it.

 

Repetition

But again, it’s all about repetition. Repetition is with all this stuff, again if you look at OJ in Terminator vs Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator role. Arnold was better conditioned behaviorally to be able to keep his eyes open while firing a weapon, and act like an actual machine.

I hope this answered your question: “I have a girl that closes her eyes, when she is about to hit the ball”. Make sure that we’re swinging smarter by moving better, and before I let you go…

Want To Move Better? Simple Adjustments To Move Like Today’s Best Hitters

Tai Chi Combat's Master Wong: Notice Weight Transfer for Instant Agility

Watch Tai Chi Combat’s Master Wong in point #4 below: Notice Weight Transfer for Instant Agility. Photo courtesy: Master Wong, from his YouTube video Tai Chi for Beginners.

What Smokin’ Joe Frazier, China’s Tai Chi, the Headspace meditation app, and Ted Williams have in common will become clear moving through this post, I promise.

But first, here’s the glue that connects all these seemingly random things

I recently stumbled onto a post titled, “Want to Move Better? Use These 5 Simple Adjustments to Start Moving Freely” by Ryan Hurst, who’s co-founder of GMB Fitness (Gold Medal Bodies). They focus on Gymnastic type movements.

The first time I read through it, I thought, well this could help hitters…

The second time I read through it, I thought, dang, this could REALLY help hitters

And then the 3rd, 4th, and 5th times, in my head I screamed, “DUDE!!”

Which is WHY I’m bringing it’s information to the attention of my coaches.

Here’s what I have for you…

  • Some quick notes from each of the five main points of the Ryan Hurst GMB Fitness post above,
  • Supporting videos that help put the ideas into “hitting” terms, and
  • A few resources I think are becoming more popular in helping hitters control their breathing (VERY IMPORTANT as you’ll soon see).

ENJOY!

 

1. Slow It Down for Instant Awareness

  • Being mindful is really the key to better movement.
  • Pay attention to how your hips are moving, your weight distribution, your eye gaze, and your breath.
  • Slow down your movement and you’ll be able to pay better attention to the details.

I’m not sure on the name, but I once heard boxer Joe Frazier used to practice a super slow motion punch that would last 20-minutes!  Talk about slowing it down for instant awareness.

Here are swings from different angles to practice specific movements in slow motion…

2. Use Your Hips for Instant Power

  • Hips are your body’s center of mass.
  • The better you can initiate motion from this point, the more efficient your movements will be, as you’ll move with less wasted action.
  • With any stepping motion, rather than your feet propelling you forward, you want your hips to lead.

Yes, I agree with Ted Williams when he said the “Hips Lead the Way”.  But even before the pelvis begins to turn for a hitter, the front hip MUST lead the way during the stride.

Watch this short 1-min Justin Turner slow motion swing video I put together for you, and key in on how his front hip initiates his pre-turn movement in the stride…

3. Use Visual Aim for Instant Control

  • Head is hardwired to follow your eyes, and the body is hardwired to follow your head. Basically, the body will follow the eyes.
  • If your eyes are not gazing in the right place, you won’t be able to control your body properly.
  • If you want to move better, think of it this way: your eyes should always be pointed where you want your spine to be.

This is WHY hitters who “pull their heads”, go chin to chest, back ear to back shoulder, or nose to sky at impact is not good.

My good friend Matt Nokes at Hitting Solutions calls this “swinging across your face”…this cue will help correct pulling the head.  The best hitters “keep their head in the fire”, as Nokes says.  Control the head, and hitter controls the direction and “squaring-up” of impact.

Watch this head movement modeling video of a few top MLB hitters…

4. Notice Weight Transfer for Instant Agility

  • The correct transfer of your weight is the beginning of a smooth and controlled motion.
  • While side stepping (or lunging) to your right, notice that you shifted your weight to the left a split second before you went to the right? It’s a natural loading response that you do without even thinking about it.
  • With any movement, if your body’s natural weight transfer mechanisms are not working properly, it will hurt your balance.

This is natural weight transfer behavior coaches!! If any hitting coach tells a right handed hitter to NOT shift their weight towards their right leg before striding to the left, then RUN FOR THE HILLS!!!

Watch the following three-in-a-half minute video from Master Wong, founder of Tai Chi Combat (over 1.4 million subscribers to his YouTube channel!!), performing a beginner’s Tai Chi movement.  Notice the split second weight shift one way, in order to go the other way…

5. Breathe for Instant Poise and Calm

  • Difference between holding the breath and bracing during movement…for skill-based movements holding your breath isn’t going to help.
  • Breath holding and hyperventilation are signs of anxiety, but in that wonderful body-mind connection loop, it can also create anxiety.
  • Poor breathing creates feelings of anxiety, anxiety, creates tension, and unmediated tension causes poor movement. Smooth and purposeful breathing leads to smooth and purposeful movement.

This is “bigly”!  The leading resources for this are the following guided meditation apps:

  • Headspace (I’ve been using this one for the best 3 years), and
  • Calm

I can’t speak for the Calm app, but Headspace is not Eastern “woo-woo”.  It focuses on controlling the breath, being aware of the breath, and the use of visualization practice.

These are second-to-none resources for reducing rapid breathing during competition or any other signs of anxiety.

I think this quote bares repeating because it’s VERY important for hitters:

“Smooth and purposeful breathing leads to smooth and purposeful movement.”