Have you ever heard the terms “soft focus” or “hard focus” and wondered what they mean?Or ever wondered what to tell your hitters when they ask you what they should look at when the pitcher’s pitching the ball?
Well soft and hard focus are terms for describing how batters gather information with their eyes, and what they look at when the pitcher is letting go of the ball.
- Soft Focus is when the batter see’s the entire pitcher during her windup and delivery.
- Hard Focus is when she narrows her vision to see only the ball, or only the pitcher’s hip where the ball comes out.
We use our eyes like this all the time, without even realizing it. Think about the last time you looked up in sky at night just admiring the stars. You weren’t really looking at anything in particular just taking it all in. Then all of a sudden you think you see a plane, or is it a planet? You can’t really tell but now you’ve suddenly eliminated the whole black sky (that you were just staring at) and are now only concerned with figuring out if it’s a planet or a plane. You just went from a soft focus, when you were looking at the whole sky, to a hard focus when you were trying to determine if the bright light you saw was moving or not, a plane or a planet.
Lots of coaches will teach hitters to use this soft-to-hard focus method for looking at a pitcher releasing a ball – going from looking at the whole pitcher to quickly shifting the eyes to only look at a spot at her hip where the ball will be released. It works for some hitters but keep in mind that it doesn’t work for everyone. Some hitters do better watching the ball all the way around instead of zooming in on a certain spot, I was one of those hitters. How do you know what works best for each hitter? Simple. Have each hitter stand in the batter’s box with a bat, and have either you or a pitcher with a ball about 20 feet or so in front of them. On the first pitch tell the batter to only watch your entire body and not any one particular thing. On the next pitch tell them to watch your hip where the ball will come out. Then have them tell you which one was easiest for them to see the ball. You should also be able to tell as they’ll almost back out of the box on the one that is not easiest for them as their eyes are not helping give them information.
For more hitting help check out our Hitting Drills, our Hitting eSkills, the Hitting module within our Level 5 Coaching Certification Program, Tee Stackers, and Hitting Disks.