Hunting and Hitting — Closer Than You Think

I am not a hunter. I went deer hunting with a friend when I was about 10 years old and never went back. Now, I have many friends who hunt so I think I know enough about this hobby to make a couple key points that do relate to the game of fastpitch softball.

And before I go any farther lets clear one thing up, HUNTING IS NOT A SPORT, because there is no defense. Unless you wear a fuzzy brown suit when you go into the woods or give the deer a gun, then you can not call it a sport.

Sorry, I got off track.

Hunters and hitters both need one very specific skill if they want to have any success. They need to be able to target what they are aiming at very accurately. Some of this is mechanical in nature. Some of it is visual acuity. Some of it is concentration and some of it is practice. But at the end of the day, you can’t hit what you don’t see and you can’t see something unless you practice seeing it.

Picture the bullseye on the dartboard. You have the red bullseye that is dead center on a board that has many different colors, numbers, rings and wires. The red center is the target and all the other stuff are distractions that can take your focus away from the target you are really aiming for. For hitters, they need to be able to see the bullseye on the ball, even though it is imaginary, if they hope to hit it consistently.

Mechanics are important in this quest. If your head is moving your eyes are moving and the ability to focus on the target are negatively impacted. Think about how difficult it would be to read a book that is bounding up and down while you read, impossible right? Well the same is true for a hitter whose head keeps moving while they are trying to hit.

Vision is a crucial part of becoming a great hitter. Assuming our mechanics allow our eyes to stop moving then we can work on training our eyes to see the imaginary bullseye on the ball. You hear great hitters talk about how “big” the ball looks on certain days, well these hitters have developed their vision to the point where they can see the ball clearer than most.

The ability to block out distraction and focus on the target is a skill that can be improved. Concentration is crucial but so is believing in the value of working on your visual skills. You can train your mind to see the “bullseye” it just takes a lot of work.

Practice seeing a very small target when you train. Start with a ball on the tee and set it up so you can see the label or logo or a mark on the ball. Then when you swing work to hit the ball on that very small spot. When kids are little they hope to hit the ball and any contact seems like a victory now we are asking them to hit the space in the “O” on the word softball. The fine print!!

Hunters want to hit the bullseye because they are hoping to kill their target with no additional pain or suffering. Hitters want to hit the bullseye because they want to crush the ball, hit it a mile and make the opponent suffer.

Told you there was a connection!

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?