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📍 Hi everybody. It’s Bryan Eisenberg and I am here with Dr. Peter Fadde. One of the founders of Gamesense and a professor of visual sciences, correct?
And, it’s importantly, so I’m, not in visual sciences, I’m not in sports scientist. My academic area is instructional design.
Actually I think for a lot of what we’re going to talk about today, What I want to chat about. And I think it’s a skill that, that parents need to be aware of. And coaches need to be aware of when, training athletes, is the instruction of visual skills. My good friend, Lantz Wheeler always likes to talk about the butterfly effect, right?
What is that one thing that is early on in the process that can matter so much in everything you do. And so we know, obviously in hitting, if you don’t see the ball, you’re not going to hit the ball. In pitching, if you’re not focusing on your target, you’re not going to hit your target. So the eyes and how they work are going to matter.
You take your eyes off when you’re trying to field the ball, you look at the runner that runner safe. So how can we teach the skills of proper vision to young student athletes?
You said coming into this, you’re dealing with some of the terminology here, so we’re talking about vision.
So that seems like rods and cones type of stuff. And then you’ve got visual skills. As a tested and trained by a vizual edge, a slow the game down. Some of these ones like this, and that’s the convergence and the divergence and peripheral vision and all these things. Those, are good when we’re talking about seeing the balls and that’s different than what I would talk about as reading the pitch. Now appropriately, we probably call that perception and vision per se, to me, perception is vision for action.
So it doesn’t really matter if it’s accurate.
I think you’re saying exactly right, I can perceive a fastball, but if in reality it’s a curve ball, I’ve got a problem, right or change up. So the perception is really what matters.
That’s right. And here’s, the truth. This is the hard truth because hitters love their eyes. They rely on their eyes. They believe their eyes, but you must understand that your eyes are two things. They’re lazy and they lie.
So is this the way Anders Ericsson talked about how we are evolutionarily predisposed to conserve energy. It takes so much energy to focus on and read a pitch that as soon as your eyes tell you that this ball here it is over the, over your head. That being, of course the hanging curve ball, your eyes, give up on it.
They go have a smoke or whatever the eyes do when they’re done for the day. Okay. And that thing floats down there. And this is your basic high school, 12, 13 year old curve ball. When the first couple of times guys are seeing that, oh my gosh, they can’t believe. They say nobody can believe they took that pitch because their eyes told them it was headed over the backstop.
And as soon as they know that they’re checked out. So how are you going to train your eyes to not check out? Are you going to train your brain to, even though your eyes are saying, okay, hold it. Take five. No, we got to hang in there.
They don’t seem to have a problem when they’re doing that in video games.
That’s why we always train it like a video game. Then with the idea that you carry it and it doesn’t automatically go to the field, you would hope that you’ve got some things where you’re working on. If you’re working on a on an app on the phone that you are then also doing some things in the batting cage, you’re working with an instructor, you’re working with a parent, these are what we call transfer appropriate.
So it’s never, there’s going right from here over to over to there. But this is one of the things that as an instructional designer, I’m like a really, firm believer in as part task training. I’m a really firm believer in part task training. I want to understand that not uncontroversial, some people we’ve mentioned, Rob Gray and all they’ve got an ecological approach. You’ve got to keep the whole thing together. If you separate perception and action, you’ve now changed it so much. It’s not the same thing. And it’s okay, that’s fine. But there’s so much efficiency that comes with being able to target whether it’s your front hand drills or any, coach who works in the cage understands that principle. Not that’s the only thing that matters. But sometimes you’re going to reduce it down to one thing and you’re just going to I say woodshed and then nobody knows what I mean.
It’s a reference to the jazz musicians who go practice their licks out by the woodshed before they tried them on the stage. You would share this part of it and then you fold it back into your, whole performance. So that’s what I believe in, I believe and this is the one thing that kind of sets that apart is that you can take this perception.
This notion of reading pitches, and you can pull that out and you can really efficiently and fun, practice it up just on an app, just on a phone and then keep plugging it back into the performance.
So what are some of the ways that besides the app and we talk about the value of the game sense app multiple times in in the book, committed.
Other things can they do at home with their with their kid to, to help them develop these perceptual skills?
Part of it is perceptual skills and part of it is knowing what to do with that perception. So a big part and again this, can run in counter to what a lot of hitting coaches might say just on, on Twitter today, there was a thing going on about, and I know that you contributed into about Juan Soto because he was doing a clip from MLB and people said, oh here’s the, okay, he’s got a great swing.
Lots of guys have great swings. That’s not what makes him best of breed. It’s what we’re talking about now. He recognizes that pitch and he also has this immense amount of impulse control. Now you don’t necessarily want to say pitch discipline, because this is a hard thing to sell to your 14 year old kid impulse control. So you talked about having the dots on the balls. Fine. Hey here’s these Pearl balls. So something like that. Okay. I’m throwing you a red one. I’m throwing your green ones. If you see a blue one, regardless of what the pitch looks like, and I’m just talking about doing front toss from the front, like even parents would, do you see that blue one?
You take it. Because that’s the change up or the slider or some funky thing we, all love pitching ninja and you’ll put up one of those things where you’ve got the guys making the swords and you’ve got the best hitters in baseball, having these ridiculous pitches at, sliders that are two feet outside the strike zone.
And so I like to show something like that and then ask people, okay. How many sliders outside the zone, did these batters swing? It was 17 or something. I got 19, but no, the answer is zero.
At what their eyes told them was a thigh high fastball. Now it ended up being a slider bending out of the zone, but they swung it and they didn’t have the impulse control to recognize. Most of them when they do this, when they do one of those swords, they know their had, they just, they’re just too late.
Even you’re going out there with your kid, I would just put that in right from the beginning. You can have fun with it. I fooled you, whatever, it’s if you see it, even though it’s going right down the middle, just take it because at some point when they get a little bit further on and the way down in Texas, the way the travel ball’s going now, we’re talking 12 years old, 13 years old guys are throwing sliders and splits.
Yeah. Sammy had a nasty slider by 12, 13.
You’re going to get to a point and it’s not rocket science. This is how stuff has been around from the beginning. The good pitchers make balls, look like strikes and strikes look like balls. So you have to know that you have to do your scout ahead of time.
What, they might try and make you chase and you have the impulse control to even know my eyes, say, that’s right here. I smell a fish. And that’s all, that’s why for especially like young guys starting out, I don’t care. If you can recognize whether it’s a slider or a cutter or whatever.
All I really care about. You’re recognizing his fast fastball, not a fastball. I did some work with a guy who was a manager in the Midwest league, full season, a low, they used to call it. Okay. He said 70% of my guys they would get what they need to get. They’d be going to the next level just by getting the fastball, not a fastball. So as soon as this thing’s coming in here and your spidey sense or your Vagus nerve from your gut or whatever you want to call it, not your conscious mind. But whatever those signals are that tell you, wow. Gives you some kind of alert you lay off.
Yeah. Isn’t it the, old expression how do you hit the curve ball? Don’t miss the fast ball.
Don’t chase the curve ball down, but also don’t give up to that one we started at so your eyes can lie to you. And two, and those pictures, see, now Sam is getting good at this, right? Yes. Pitchers make a real art of making your eyes lie to you. Because they know you’re going to believe your eyes.
And, this would be, I would say somewhat controversial. At least if I threw it out on Twitter, I know I’d get hammered by people who know a lot more than I do. I’d I can’t hit, I couldn’t fall out of a boat and hit water. That’s, not the thing, but I would say early on and just make it fun.
Not make it a big. Would get this notion of, a certain amount of impulse control, because all through their, careers there, they got to trust their eyes. They believe in their eyes, but they got to know that sometimes they’re going to lie to them and they’re going to know it.
You’re going to realize it. The real point is to realize it before you’ve got that sword. It’s like sheaf your sword, this isn’t, and all we’re talking about is milliseconds. Even at little league speed, we’re only talking about a blink of the eye.
Yeah. And I think this is something that a lot of people don’t get.
I just finished reading a book called make numbers count by Chip Heath who also wrote with his brother made to stick and they give this great example of being nudged to, I think, to hear an example of, when you think about 90 mile per hour fastball, if you clap your hands fast, reasonably fast, four times in a second.
Okay. That the time it takes for 90 mile an hour pitch come out of the pitcher’s hands and into the catcher’s glove. You couldn’t even finish your second clap.
In the time. That you have to, make a swing decision, you couldn’t even initiate your first clap. You’d be partially there. And so I don’t think people can appreciate how much that takes. Of course we can optimize how fast we move. So how our, physical swing speed, but that window of decision-making and that impulse control that you’re talking about.
Seems to be that critical level between where we are now and where are we going to that next part? So let’s go in a slightly different direction because I know game sense uses the concept of, occlusion, right? Shown the video, and then it stops at a certain point.
But I also know that like guys like Robert Riggins and, several others are big fans of using eye patches covering up the different eyes when, people are hitting. We’ve seen videos of Trevor Bauer talking about it when he’s when he’s pitching a bullpen he’ll, go with one eye closed.
What’s, that about? What, are they actually doing?
That’s not really my area so much. Usually you have a cross-eyed dominance. So if you’re a right-handed. You’re going to have a dominant, left eye. And so you want that to have as your left eye, but not everybody’s 33% of the population or something is not one eye dominant.
So if you’re not front eye dominant it’s good to know which one you are. Cause if you’re not front dominant, then you probably one of those people that has to work on trying to get squared up to the pitcher. I don’t know if you need to be Galarraga that I’m going to date us. You remember Andrés Galarraga he’d stand like facing the pitcher.
So he probably was was a back eye, dominant guy. I mean there’s some, things like that. There’s there’s eye dominance.
So, those things can help just like working out any, other kind of muscle?
It’s another one of those things where the more so you get it measured.
If you know your back, eye dominance then make an adjustment because to to design your setup as a hitter, to really keep two eyes. Now, every pitcher, every coach will tell you, keep two eyes level on the pitcher. You actually try and do that and then trigger your swing. This is not a natural thing.
Ricky Henderson did. Okay. And so don’t make a different problem by trying to fix something. That’s not a problem. On the other hand if I found out that I was right eye dominant, you might either say, okay, a figure out how to hit left-handed, which is supposed to be an advantage anyway, until they invented the shift. Or make your, and make an adjustment to that. But if I’m front eye dominant. It’s still good to get as good a vision as you can, but you have to, really get two eyes on a pitcher full and flat. You’ve got to do some really, you’ve got to do some contorted stuff. You’re not in a comfortable position to swing.
That’s why some of them are quite elite athletes can do that, but not every, but not everyone can.
You can see how much harder it is from a right-handed pitcher than a left-handed pitcher. And like back when bill James was working at the sausage factory and, doing his stats in his notebook and trying to challenge baseball conventions. One of the first ones that he took on, two things right away.
One was are strikeouts worse than making an out another way. This is why he’s famous for it. And the major league. No, it’s really not over the course of a season. And now and out is an out. The other one was platoon advantage. Is there really a platoon advantage or is this just something that’s baseball lore? And he, showed there actually, there is a very distinct platoon advantage and it is perceptual.
And it does have to do with the angles of the of the eyes on that and the ball coming from the left-hand or a balls coming right in towards me, as opposed to where I get a lot more vertical kind of move. I’ve got to actually move my eyes a lot more to see that. So there are plenty of reasons why there really is a platoon advantage.
Let me wrap up with this question. Inside the game sense app, you obviously have the ability for people to choose to look at left-handed or right-handed hitters and coming from different slots and all of that. How does that help them know whether it’s a ball or a strike or what kind of pitch?
What is it doing to train those eyes from, an instructional point of view? That is so helpful in the app for people.
Can I show you real quick? Okay. So that you’ll see a right on, right? Most of the pitchers we have in here you could choose to see them as a right-hander or a left-hander or the same guy.
So you can see that you’re going to have to guess what type of pitch it is. And I’m going to go there and I’m sitting here. And so you’re going to, this is the occlusion thing. You’re going to see the cutoff pitch. See how it was cut off. So now I have to guess something. Okay. The answer is fastball strikes.
So the green meant that it was let me get another one, just to see, one, two count. So one, two count. Will I see the curve? Whoops. Was that a curve? Low? Okay. I said curve ball low, but I was wrong. It was a change up. And then you see the replay and this is important. So when you see the replay, you see the full pitch.
So that’s what we’re really trying to do it. Ultimately, I don’t care about balls and strikes or curve balls, change ups, whatever. What we’re really trying to get to is that your eyes are seeing that ball out of hand, that first third of ball flight, and you referenced the reaction time needed for that.
At first there. And what does it mean right here at the plate? Here’s the ball out? What does it mean at the plate? Connecting the dots between those and a difference between an app like this with using this video occlusion method and like a VR, will make the shape of the pitch. In this format, Your brain has to make the shape of the pitch.
The only way you can judge, whether that was a ball or a strike, is that your brain, the shape of the pitch. And that’s, to me, that’s what pitch recognition is. People will say it’s pitch recognition, making good swing decisions. That’s plate discipline. Pitch recognition to me is that a ball comes out here and you have, you make a mental instant.
Connect the dots map to where that’s, where this is down here. Now that obviously works to improve your swing decisions. You’re not going to chase those ones because you recognize, okay, it’s coming right here, but it’s coming with spin. So it’s going to be moving out. Or it is that I recognize that ball, that release that sent a ball up out of frame.
And I have an idea that might be coming right back down into my hitting zone. So we’re just connecting the dots and it’s just like hitting itself. You’re just building the mental database, hundreds and then thousands, and then tens of thousands of pitches. So can we accelerate that a little bit, building that mental database?
That’s what we’re trying to do.
So I am going to cheat. I’m going to add one last question to this. Okay. Cause we’ve been seeing the question, I think it was a codify who put out, if you like, I’ll have one page, like Nolan Ryan’s fastball, Randy Johnson’s curve ball, or Mariano’s cutter, but I forgot what other one. Which would you choose?
And as I thought about it .I think I might have to go with, Mariano’s cutter because everybody knew it was coming. Basically, that’s all he threw. I don’t want to ever hit that thing.
Knew it was coming. Deconstruct what you mean by knew it was coming. This is what I mean.
This is what I mean, Bryan. Your brain and your eyes make a zip-line of a pitch. So every hitter and they’ve got thousands, hundreds of thousands of pitches in their mental database that tell them a ball coming out at this trajectory is coming to right here and even though they know from their video, that Mariano’s is going to be right.
Let’s see if I’m a right-hander it’s going to be going away from me, a left-hander into. They, know that, but it’s not enough to know that because their eyes are giving them this. And so their body is responding to this. And you don’t overcome that just with a pre-game scout because it’s so hard to overcome what your eyes tell you.
And that’s a fraction of a second pitch and you know that his ball, his cutter only moved this far. It’s not like Corbin burns cutter, that’s moving like this. It only moved this far and that’s enough to get it off the, a sweet spot and your eyes tell you where it’s and you cannot overcome their eyes to say the the ball looks like it’s going to be here.
It’s actually going to be here.
Yep. Dr. Fadde. Thank you so much for for sharing your wisdom..
You’re welcome. Oh, it occurs to me that he might be, he might not be seeing the baseballs off.
They’ll just have to imagine that it just moved a few inches.
And I didn’t have that set up. This is like stuff all, of this it’s just like stuff I’ve got sitting on my desk all the time. Who in the world would