Despite his background in history and theology, my dad was always an early adopter of technology and data. Growing up, we were early to bring a computer (and a Mac at that!) into our home, and as coach of our travel baseball teams (and Bill James devotee!), he tracked advanced stats on us well before they hit the mainstream - stats like Runs Created, Secondary Average, and Game Score. Needless to say, not many other parents took much interest in his in-depth breakdowns of 13-year-old players, but it did give him insights that made our team better by loading the top of our lineup with the hitters that got on base the most (rather than valuing speed at the top of the lineup, which was much more trendy at the time).
As I was something of a pro prospect as an amateur catcher, I took a few eye exams as major league organizations took a passing interest in me as a player. One exam I failed miserably (the depth perception portion, anyway), which led us to look into my depth perception further with local optometrists and ophthalmologists. Alas, it was a flawed test given in less-than-ideal lighting conditions, and after visiting a few eye doctors, it turned out my depth perception was more than fine (which made some sense - I had my flaws as a hitter, but I could always make contact).
In our search, though, we came across Dr. Barry Seiler and Vizual Edge, and what we learned was enlightening: one’s ability to track objects could improve with practice. With the advancement in computer technology (and with the help of red/blue glasses), it was now possible to view a screen in 3 dimensions and practice exercises in depth perception, convergence, and divergence. Immediately, I noticed a difference in how I tracked pitches both as a hitter and as a catcher, and I went on to have a successful senior baseball season.
Unfortunately, computers (and the Edge Trainer) were not yet readily portable, so the practice wasn’t something I kept up the rest of my baseball career, though we did make use of it as a scouting instrument in my time with the Chicago Cubs. Now, the Vizual Edge team has brought everything great about visual training into the digital era so that our program is available on any computer or tablet with a WiFi connection. Reports on your initial evaluation are generated as soon as you take the test giving you immediate feedback for where your sports vision is strong and where you have room for growth. Further, our software develops a custom training program designed around your score and your vision, so no two training plans are alike.
Baseball scouts and coaches often speak of the 5 tools - hitting, power, running speed, arm strength, and defense - but we often like to think of vision as the 6th tool that rounds out a complete player. As an improving player, know that your core visual skills can improve with practice and, in time, can pay dividends with your hitting and fielding!