Softball Flaws and Fixes – Vision Skills

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 22,951
    Softball coach Suzy Willemssen discusses vision skills.

    Suzy Willemssen: Hi, I am Suzy Willemssen and I am Head Coach for the Blue Jays Gold. It is an 18 and under ASA Junior Olympic Fast Pitch Softball Team and we are talking about common hitting flaws and some softball drills you can give your players out to make some corrections. Right now, we are going to talk about some vision drills. The first one we are going to do is called ball call. Pretty basic, if you can't see the ball you are not going to able to hit it. So we want to give you some tools to give your players for them to work with. So they will be able to recognize, pick up the ball a little quicker. The sooner you can pick the ball up, it's going to give you more time to make that one decision which is no, not the swing. The more time you get the more successful you are going to be.

    Again, I am going to reemphasize, we are doing our front toss. So Megan wants to be keeping her gaze -- looking out at the screen and in fact with the vision drills when you are doing any T work, front toss work, we would like to say we want you to look long even though we are working short. So in fact, I might encourage Megan to even stretch path and look about where the pitcher would be, in high school ball that's going to be 40 feet and in college softball and ASA Gold now 18 A ball it's going to be 43 feet.

    So look where the pitcher is then kind of bring her gaze in, keep her eyes nice and fluid, pick up where I am going to release the ball around at my hip. In fact our lead hitters, they keep their eye very fluid and some will start at the shortstop area, bring their gaze in. Some will start second place bring their gaze in. Some behind the pitcher some in front. Whatever is going to work for you to again keep your eyes nice and relaxed. I listened to Jessica Mendoza the other night, she kind of does a soft focus and keeps her gaze around the hip. So this is something that your players need to practice. See what works best for them. Right now again, we are going to do some drills to help them pick up the ball sooner to work on their vision.

    So this first one we are going to do is ball call, a reverse ball call. Megan is going to look away, I am going to get behind our front toss screen. We now release the ball I am going to say ball, then Megan is going to turn her head pickup the ball and then swing. Often players will want to start their swing before they pick up the ball. No, we want to learn to see the ball then make our swing.

    Another little thing you want to make sure when your players are turning their head, again she is going to be looking away, you want to move your eyes first then turn your head. Quite often players will be like this and then their heads pulling out and, hey -- here is a fun thing you can do with your players, to tell them how important this is to have proper head movement and using their eyes to track the ball.

    Stand in front of your softball players and ask them to follow your finger by moving their head. Move your head, alright. Megan's probably lost sight of my finger. Now tell your players to keep their head perfectly still and just use their eyes to follow your finger. I would say 99% of your players are going to answer which way was easier to follow your finger and then they are going to say when I kept my head still, when I use my eyes.

    So again, this is why it's so important to be using the softball vision drills and if you do something like this with your players a lot of times instantly they understand yes, I need to keep my head still and let my eyes to follow the ball, track the ball with my eyes and not by using and jerking my head all the way around. Ball, ball, ball, ball, ball, good job Megan, ball.

    Now we are going to add a variation. This next drill is called face the fire. Again, it's going to be working on using our eyes to track the ball, keeping our head perfectly still, Megan is as you can see it's going to get behind the play. She is going to start her motion and then I am going to pitch the ball when she gets pretty much in her stance in a position to hit the ball and start her swing. So , this is called face the fire, again she is going to be looking at me the entire time, keeping her eyes leveled and straight up and down, straight up down, levels across, straight looking at me.

    The side benefit of doing the face the fire drill, go ahead Megan -- again we talked getting some rhythm in her swing as well. So you can see she has got it nice and flowing, hitting great shots certainly. Her head, her eyes are nice in level. A good two eyed look at me. Again, this one is called face the fire. Great job.

    Alright, now we are going to give you one more softball drill that you can have your players do and we are going to use an eye patch. When your players are working on Ts it's really common for them to have the T be looking down and swinging away. Again, that action is not going to transplant to the game because quite often what they will do is that when they get to the game they will do here and we don't walk around this way, we don't leave this way. You can see how my eyes are tilted and this is a very common flaw that we also see in players.

    So by putting the eye patch on them again if you are going to look at hitter, you can see Megan has got on her left eye, it's going to force her to one, turn her head, so she is going to get a good two-eyed look at the pitcher. Also we encourage you to tell them, you got to keep your eyes nice in level. So again, two-eyed look at the pitcher when they wear the eye patch, it really forces them to do so and also it seems to help with their focus and concentration as well.

    So those are three softball drills, simple drills you can do with your players to work on their vision skills.