THE VISION PEARLS
PROBLEM: THE NEED FOR PRACTICAL VISION TRAINING AIDS FOR QUICK AND SUSTAINABLE HITTING SKILL DEVELOPMENT
Vision Pearls were created to solve a problem in baseball training: the lack of practical baseball training aids to enhancing vision and tracking skills for batters. This unmet need was recognized by our coaching staff during a 12 & Under travel team season.
During that 12 & Under season, most of our good hitters fell into a hitting slump. They were not following the baseball through the hitting zone as they were pulling their head off the baseball, especially on the outside pitches. Re-communicating coaching points such as “keep your eyes on the ball” or “don’t pull your head out too early” among many other similar coaching points was not correcting this problem.
We needed a better way to train and emphasize having our players keep their head and eyes on the baseball through the hitting zone, swing, and contact point. We needed an effective training method that would produce quick results. We realized we needed a tangible task for the hitters to learn how to consistently see and track the pitched baseball through the hitting zone.
Awareness of a Football Catching Vision Training Method
We had background knowledge of a vision tracking training method to improve catching a football. A small, green dot was placed on one tip of the football and a small blue dot was placed on the other tip of the football. After catching and securing the football into the tuck position, the receiver was to call out the color on the tip that had come into him.
This tangible task required the receiver to narrow his attention and focus on the tip of the passed football in the air, through the catch, and into the tuck position. Quickly, receivers had built the necessary natural head and eye movement skills to consistently track a regular football through completion and security. This enhanced vision tracking skill resulted in more completions in football game settings.
SOLUTION: IMPLEMENTING COLORED DOTS ON BASEBALLS IN LIVE BATTING PRACTICE SETTING
With awareness of the football vision tracking training method, we used basic magic markers and placed a single large black dot on one baseball and a single large blue dot on another baseball. Along with unmarked baseballs, we randomly pitched these baseballs in a live batting practice setting. After the swinging or after letting the baseball pass, we asked the batters to call out the color on the pitched baseball – “Black”, “Blue” or “None”.
While installing the color identification task in a live batting practice setting, we immediately observed each batter working hard to keep their head and eyes on the pitched baseball from the pitcher's release point through the hitting zone. More importantly, we also observed each batter was making better contact with the baseball when they swung at it. Even more importantly, we observed each batter noticing themselves making better contact with the baseball as they concentrated on tracking it through the hitting zone. And the final observation is was that all these successful performance outcomes made practice FUN!
Our players quickly learned that if they focused on the baseball from the pitcher's hand into the hitting zone through the swing and contact point, they made better contact with the baseball. Whatever was causing them to pull their heads too early (fear, laziness, wanting to see results of the hit, etc) they stopped pulling their head and eyes too early. This new vision tracking skill development learning transferred to game production as we had better batting outcomes the rest of the season leading to more victories – even against teams we had lost to earlier in the season.
We implemented this baseball tracking training method about once a week throughout the rest of the season. This helped our players continue to gain and maintain the enhanced tracking skills this training method created. At the end of the season, we won our first travel team tournament (Championship Photo above).
CREATION OF VISION PEARLS (AND FAST-BALLS)
Shortly in the aftermath of this season, Vision Pearls were created to promote this vision training aid concept to other coaches so their players can enjoy better batting and hitting production. We wanted universally usable, quality, colored baseballs so we manufactured Vision Pearls.
To compliment Vision Pearls, we also created FAST-Balls to help players develop basic pitching skills for throwing a baseball or pitching a baseball - whether a 4-Seam or 2-Seam fastball.
Now everybody can enjoy becoming a better baseball player by practicing with Vision Pearls and FAST-Balls!