Core Training

gameSense: Improving Pitch Recognition

On a recent episode of “In the Circle,” we sat down with gameSense founder Peter Fadde to discuss how their technology helps hitters with pitch recognition. Pitch recognition is an essential skill that hitters can develop and one that can provide a slight advantage over opposing pitchers.

The skill is not something that can be developed overnight, so one challenge players face, is how you can see enough pitches to develop the skill? Fadde explains why video is the key “We felt like the video-occlusion approach could be “packaged” to help developing athletes practice and master the “pattern recognition” skills that differentiate expert performers. Aspiring athletes can work on strength and conditioning along with skill mechanics, and still not get the “it” that the best performers have.” The use of video is not a new concept in sports, but gameSense has worked hard to bring a tool to help hitters to the commercial market. “The approach has been used by sports scientists for decades to research high-speed decision making (such as Pitch Recognition). But nobody’s ever commercialized it. Even with VR and other high-tech methods, this Twitter-simple method is the most scientifically grounded and convenient. We think it can help athletes reach the next level (and make a successful business).”

Pitch recognition is one of the hardest things to develop in players. The question is; how does gameSense make the process easier? Fadde explains how “the only way to develop pitch recognition is to see thousands of pitches. Chances to practice off real pitchers of equal or better quality are hard to come by. It’s a lot to expect players to “work on it” in the game. Being able to practice “reading” thousands of pitches on video is a lot easier. It can be done on the phone, in the car, lots of places.”

Fadde has studied this for some time; we asked him why this skill is so difficult to develop? “Pitchers are way ahead of hitters partly because they work on it more. Some pitches, like a great riseball, are just not hittable. The only way to beat it is to “take” it and get something better. But that requires making a very early recognition and decision. Hitters track the ball naturally, but it’s unnatural to look into space at ball release and gain information. It takes a lot of reps to get the skill.” He goes on to say “But the best answer to why it’s difficult to develop PR is that the best hitters don’t need it … yet. But the longer they play, the more likely they will run into pitchers’ whose power shortens their decision time and whose movement fools them. They can be ready by training for it if they want to achieve at highest levels.”

So how long would it take a player(s) using gameSense to start seeing positive results? Fadde says “It depends on how diligent they are, and if they are doing “transfer” drills in the batting cage which utilize the app and ones that don’t. It’s best working with a coach. Doing the computer drills 10 minutes a day and cage drills once or twice a week should show results in noticeable improvements in about 3 or 4 weeks.” Fadde recommends doing five or six drills (10 pitches each) in a 10-12 minute session, twice a day to build the skill then down to once a day or so.

We asked him how coaches and players can integrate this into their regular practice schedule to which he stated “In a team or academy, it’s great to have a station where the hitter does computer PR drills and then goes right to the cage. Even if simply hitting off a tee, the hitter can visualize the pitcher they just watched on the computer. With a phone, they can even watch a video and then go right to the tee. This helps hitters learn to visualize the windup and release of pitchers — a great skill for developing timing. But it’s also effective to do computer training on one day and tee work or soft toss etc. on a different day. Some hitters like to do gS drills on game day as a visual warmup.”

Players can work on hitting mechanics all day, but developing pitch recognition skills along with their mechanics can elevate hitters to the next level.

Check out these two examples of how gameSense is being used. Example 1 and Example 2.

For more information visit gameSense Sports.

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