In-Depth Vision Training With Dr. Bill Harrison

Editor/Collegiate Baseball
(Final Of A 2-Part Series)

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. — Without great vision, no baseball player could excel at the game of baseball.

Then why is little, if any time,  spent training the eyes to see pitches better, fielding the ball more cleanly or training pitchers to have more command with more focused vision?

The late Dr. Bill Harrison, the most renowned visual performance specialist the game of baseball has ever witnessed, spent over 50 years studying how to train the vision of baseball players at the highest level.

He has worked with a who’s who list of elite Major League players led by Barry Bonds, George Brett, and Greg Maddux, just to name a few.

He’s also worked  with more than half of the major league clubs, several colleges, universities and academies, including the original Kansas City Royals Baseball Academy.

Dr. Harrison said he has been around numerous baseball practices over the years.

“I see a lot of opportunity for coaches to help their players get better visually. I think there is a lot of dead time on the field where coaches could get players doing various visually-oriented drills.

“For example, if I were the coach and had the pitcher throwing in the bullpen, I would always have two batters standing in as they took pitches and watched pitches coming to the plate. If a pitcher was disturbed by hitters being on each side of the plate, I would put the hitters behind the catcher or even behind the fence where the catcher was setting up.

“Or the hitters could stand in the batters’ boxes but back away from the plate a little bit. Those hitters need to see a lot of live pitches, and that is the only place they will be able to see them. I see such a wasted opportunity in the bullpen many times that would help the visual tracking skills of hitters. When this technique is put into play, it almost always works.

“I am aware of several hitters on the Major League level who are frustrated because the pitching coach won’t let them stand in to watch pitches as pitchers are throwing bullpens. They also get frustrated that pitchers tend to throw in the bullpen when the position players are taking batting practice, so there is no opportunity to take advantage of the live pitching.”

Visual Practices
Dr. Harrison was asked how he would structure practices so hitters would be more visually prepared for game speed pitching.

“My fascination with this game is the challenge of speed. During games, the speed of pitches is faster than practice. There is so much time spent in practices on slower, less than real time game velocity. Working on hitting mechanics is important to a degree. But there must be a phase of practice that features game speed pitching or even higher velocities.

“Let me give you an example. If you are veteran driver and go down the same street year after year, everything is normal. But if the city puts up a stop sign on the street without you knowing about it, it will undoubtedly startle you. Often times there are accidents and screeching of brakes when this happens because nobody is aware of the stop sign.

“Once we see the sign, there is a processing time in your mind. How fast does that visual cue go through our eyes and into our brain and on to our feet so the brake is stepped on as the vehicle is stopped?

“Most people are not nearly as quick as they need to be. A lot of times it is concentration. Many times the person is not paying attention. But even if they are paying attention, there is a speed that takes place as this is processed, and that speed is very limiting. If this goes from the eyes, to the brain and onto the feet slowly, what the person saw happened very fast to him. If it goes through the eyes, brain and into the feet quickly, what they are looking at appeared to happen slowly.

“Just about every hitter has a level of pitching he simply can’t handle. Some hitters can’t handle 85 mph pitches. Many can handle 88 mph. As the velocity goes up, fewer hitters can handle the speed.

“But I firmly believe if the eyes, body and mind are trained to work properly together, a 100 mph pitch is not impossible to hit. No one is trained to do that. It is a lot more than hitting a fastball. It is the varying locations and types of pitches with different movement.”

To read more of this in-depth article, purchase the April 22, 2022 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE.