Baseball Magazine

What Can We Learn from a Chicken?

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
Ok.  So I occasionally look for stupid things online.  Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective), I tend to see just about everything through the eyes of a baseball coach and usually end up asking myself "how can I apply this to baseball?"  You might say it's a gift or, if you are my wife, a curse.  Either way, this YouTube clip is an example.

Like the video shows, many birds like chickens and hawks have the ability to keep their head perfectly still no matter what movements their bodies make underneath.  It's pretty amazing actually.  Unfortunately, humans do not have this ability.  If you want proof, go to any Little League field and watch a young player go after a fly ball.  You will probably see everything EXCEPT a still head and eyes.  That's why, especially when just beginning,  young players have a very difficult time catching balls hit or thrown to them.  They have not yet mastered the ability to keep their head and eyes still when everything else is moving.  This becomes even more difficult if they are running after a fly ball or line drive.  Their head and eyes usually bounce around on every step making it virtually impossible to see the ball well.
To improve on this necessary skill for all age groups and for any facet of the game, here are some tips and drills:
Run on the balls of your feet.  Running on the front part of your feet cause the foot to act like a shock absorber.  This allows a player to run with their head and eyes relatively still.  Running flatfooted or on your heels causes the eyes to bounce.  The next time a kid runs on the pavement or in a gym, listen.  If each step makes a loud impact, they are running too flatfooted or on their heels.  If they run on the balls of their feet like a sprinter, you will not hear much noise at all on any of the steps.

What can we learn from a chicken?

Moving with your head still and eyes level is a
basic skill for all baseball players.

Keep your eyes level.  Even if my eyes are still, I will have a hard time seeing the ball if my eyes are not level.  Whether we are throwing, fielding, pitching, base running, catching, hitting, watching TV, playing video games, or reading, a level set of eyes are necessary for proper vision and depth perception.
Dive-bomber drill.  A player flips a ball to a coach and simply goes out for a pass like a wide receiver would.  Variations include throwing line-drives in any direction, fly balls over the right shoulder, fly balls over the left shoulder, and fly balls directly over their head.  Whichever you choose, be sure each player focusses on keeping their eyes level and still as they run.  If the ball appears to be bouncing in flight, their eyes are moving and adjustments are needed.  Using tennis balls or some other soft ball is best for young kids who are still developing.
Run-and-Read drill.  Have players run sprints and/or run around the bases while trying to read a sign or look at a picture in the distance.  Advertisements on an outfield fence work best.  If the words/pictures bounce around while they run, their eyes are moving too much.  If they run correctly, they should be able to see the picture and/or read the words pretty clearly.  This drill is also good for teaching players to run with their heads up so they can see plays develop on their own and not have to rely on the base coaches as much..
Ever think you could learn that much from a chicken?

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