Posts

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…

Softball Hitting Tips for Beginners: 5 Little Known Ways To Improve Hitters

 

Softball Hitting Tips for Beginners: 11yo Jackson Handler

This is one of my online lessons out in Pennsylvania (I’m in Cali), 11yo Jackson. 2.5 months between BEFORE/AFTER’s.

A great softball hitting tips for beginners question came in recently, from a reader (relates well to baseball too)…

“What percentage of hitters that you have coached got no improvement or no benefit from your program? How many swings per day would you recommend for a 10yr old hitter (what’s too much and not enough?”

Here’s what we’ll cover in this softball hitting tips for beginners post:

  • Improvement depends on these 5 things…, AND
  • How many swings are too much & not enough?

 

Improvement Depends on these 5 Things…

Softball Hitting Tips for Beginners: Mia Buffano 15yo

This is one of my online fastpitch hitters 15yo Mia out in Florida.

I’d be lying to you if I said that ALL my online and local hitters are continually improving or benefiting from my system.

Sadly, this holds true for anyone’s system…effective or ineffective.

Unless…

The instructor is HIGHLY selective on who they accept as a client.

Although, it must be said those hitters being taught ineffective mechanics will get cut much sooner than ones learning how to hit employing human movement principles that are validated by science.

We coaches and instructors can control only so much.

We’re like a flashlight guiding the way in the dark.  We can illuminate where we want the hitter to go and how to get there, but ultimately it’s up to the hitter to do their homework.

Here are FIVE critical factors for seeing constant improvement with hitters…

Softball Hitting Tips for Beginners #1: Motivation/Inspiration

Softball Hitting Tips for Beginners: Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins photo courtesy: attitudes4innovation.com

Like Tony Robbins says, “Motivation is like a warm bath”.  Motivation wears off in the short term.  But inspiration can last up to months, if not years, from its inception.

There’s a time and place for each.

Think of motivation as PUSHING the player, whereas inspiration allows them to be PULLED by their own self-motivation.

The latter is obviously ideal, but the challenge is that every player is inspired and motivated by different things.

There’s nothing more frustrating for a hitting coach or the parents, than an unmotivated and/or uninspired player…

Which we may have to face the conclusion that this player is probably not in the right sport or activity.

Softball Hitting Tips for Beginners #2: Effective mechanics

Is the hitter applying human movement principles – that are validated by science – to hitting a ball?

You see, effectiveness is doing the right things, while efficiency is doing those things right.

In other words, I can get real good at ‘squashing the bug’, ‘chopping down on the ball’, and ‘sitting back’ but my playing career will be dwarfed in comparison to executing more effective body movements.

One of the biggest competitive advantages I would recommend to any coach, would be to invest and read Thomas Myers’s book Anatomy Trains.  Here’s a short video from Thomas Myers explaining “What is Tensegrity”:

ftball Hitting Tips for Beginners #3: Effective coaching cues

As most of you coaches know, player learning styles are different.  Do you know how many learning styles there are?

Here’s a clue…

Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP, says there are 3 main ones (acronym – VAK):

  1. Visual (sight/pictures),
  2. Auditory (sound), and
  3. Kinesthetic (feel).

Furthermore, vague coaching cues like ‘get on top of the ball’ or ‘be short to the ball’, which can be used effectively as adjustment cues, are too general and broad in scope to teach as a default swing strategy.

Without extended explanation, these cues aren’t very intuitive, and are ultimately ineffective on a broad scale.

On the other hand, ‘show your numbers to the pitcher’ or ‘land shorter’, will require minimal explanation to get the hitter executing exactly what you want them to do.

Softball Hitting Tips for Beginners #4: Feedback systems

Softball Hitting Tips for Beginners: Zepp Sensor

This is the Zepp sensor connecting to phone app

I think it was Peter Drucker that said what gets measured, gets managed.

If you’re a hitting coach that DOES NOT use slow motion analysis, then you’re not being effective.

With free slow motion video phone apps like CoachesEye and HudlTech, and inexpensive PC/MAC software like Powerchalk, there’s ZERO excuse to not do slow motion analysis with your hitters.

Also, swing apps like Zepp, SwingTracker, and the more expensive HitTrax cage system are great for getting more in depth in measuring a hitter’s outcomes.

You can also use Pocket Radar or a Bushnell radar gun to measure Ball Exit Speeds.

There are also intuitive hitting aids out there that help to cut down the learning curve when teaching a hitter specific swing movements.  One inexpensive one giving audible feedback of when the barrel is accelerating is the Swing Blaster.

The point is, there are great forms of technology and a few hitting aids out there to aid in your feedback systems.  These modalities give hitters INSTANT feedback on where to improve.

Softball Hitting Tips for Beginners #5: Doing the work

This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.  Even if you’ve checked the previous FOUR factors off your list, if the hitter isn’t putting the work in, then they’ll get better…but can take years to see consistent improvement.

The overarching theme of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biography, in his tell all book Total Recall, was:

  • Goals,
  • Steps, and then
  • Reps.

You see, if the hitter is inspired/motivated, employing effective mechanics and coaching cues, using feedback systems to manage what’s measureable, then it’s all about putting the work in.

Do the right things, then get outstanding at doing those things right.

 

How Many Swings are too Much & not Enough?

Positive Coaching Alliance

Positive Coaching Alliance website is PositiveCoach.org

Fine Line Between Motivation & Inspiration

Remember motivation is like a warm bath, good in the moment, but will soon cool.  Inspiration is the PULL of self-motivation we want to cultivate in our athletes.

Most young athletes ARE NOT inspired to go to practice.  Most go because they want to have fun and connect with friends and teammates.  It’s the 1/3 Rule:

  • 1/3 of your team wants to be there AND get better,
  • 1/3 of your team wants to be there, and the last
  • 1/3 of the team DOES NOT want to be there & could care less about getting better.

And unfortunately, coaches have to spend most of their time on strengthening the weakest links.  This at least holds true for school ball, whereas the parents to have to pay to play.

I find leaning on an organization like the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) to help equip coaches, players, umpires, and parents on how to build, motivate, and inspire better athletes, resulting in better people later in life.

Over-Practicing

The International Youth Conditioning Association, whom I’m certified with, talks about how long is too long to have young athletes train or practice.

If we’re coaching 12u, practices SHOULD NOT be more than 45-60 mins, 3 times per week.  More than that is too much.  30-mins or less for 8u.  Middle School should be around 1 hour 30-mins, High School 2 hours 30 mins, college 3-5 hours (depending on weight training days).

And if you feel that’s not enough time to get things done, then you’re not being effective and/or efficient with your practices.

CLICK HERE for an insightful interview with NCAA college Hall of Fame baseball Coach Bob Bennett (my coach for 3 years at Fresno State).  He outlines what MUST be the highest priority for practices.

Do you know how to tell if an athlete is overtraining?

CLICK HERE to read this BreakingMuscle.com article to see how to by just monitoring an athlete’s resting heart rate.

At-Home Sweet Spot

I recommend to all my hitters, to start with 5-15 minutes/day of purposeful quality swing reps at home.  4-5 days per week.  This range will depend on self-motivation of course.  Players can put in more time, but only if they’re feeling it on that day.  The point is to get them REVISITING the material everyday.

By the way, this is outside of normal team practice time.  This is time on their own without coach around.

And they need to know, less frequency will translate to a larger learning curve.  In other words, it’ll take LONGER to improve.

And lastly,

Look for the Signs

When practicing or training, look for signs of frustration/anger, boredom, or shutdown.

You’ve seen these before, for example…

When a player is getting frustrated, you may see tears welling up in their eyes…OR anger may be taking unfocused swings as hard as they can.

When a player is bored, you may see them yawn, or being distracted.  The latter could be ADD/ADHD.  The point is they’re not into what you’re teaching them, so you have to make an adjustment.  Make practice a game, and more fun.  That will grab their attention…and keep it.

When a player looks shutdown, it’s time to shut down their session.  Go back to the drawing board and start anew tomorrow.

An outstanding coach is an observant one.  Don’t try to fit a round peg in a square hole.

Above all, PLEASE use common sense.