When you talk to most any pro or college hitter, they’ll admit that hitting is as much a visual challenge as it is a physical one. After spending countless hours as a minor leaguer trying to clean up the mechanics of my swing, it was an eye-opening experience getting called up to major league spring training games and seeing how many successful hitters at the top level had flaws in their own swings.
It’s not that the quality of swing doesn’t matter- far from it. In this era of high-spin, high-velocity fastballs, and perfected-in-a-lab breaking balls, efficient swings are more important than ever (and a lot of coaches are doing great work in helping hitters be more efficient getting to high fastballs). However, when my baseball journey moved from playing to scouting, it solidified my belief that the best hitters didn’t always have the best swings. Instead, the best hitters recognize good pitches to hit, and when they swing, they hit it on the barrel. It sounds simple but, as any of us that have ever stepped in the batter’s box know, hitting is anything but!
We know that hitters will still spend hour after hour in the batting cage trying to perfect their swings, but many will probably neglect the visual and timing components that we know are vital to being an elite hitter. I know there have been attempts to rectify this by many quality hitting instructors, with coaches practicing variable timing drills in the cage or teams using a curveball machine in lieu of traditional on-field batting practice.
Ultimately, hitters need to recognize pitch speed, spin, location, and they need to have the timing to accurately connect with the ball in the hitting zone. And that’s where Vizual Edge is a great tool for any hitter- it isolates these visual components you need to master to be a successful hitter. This can be especially helpful for hitters that might not have had as many at-bats as they’d have liked- from playing in a cold-weather state to an injury-shortened season, or even a pandemic shortened season where you might not have received the number of games (or even the off-season cage time) that you’re accustomed to.
So, as you get back into your training this off-season, in addition to all of the physical work you’re putting in to improve, also consider how you can best perfect your vision and timing. As you climb the baseball ladder, pitchers are going to get you out more and more by disrupting your timing as much as they are in exposing flaws in your swing.