Part 2: Seeing Beyond Mechanics: Vision Insights

By Ken Cherryhomes

My training with Dr. Nikaitani not only helped me learn about vision strategies but also taught me to recognize signs of vision deficiencies that can inhibit batters. This was something I had great interest in and had invested a lot of time and research on, already. These issues sometimes manifest themselves physically. Instead of taking a mechanics-first approach like most coaches, I learned to see these mechanical quirks as sometimes indicative of potential vision matters.

Dr. Nikaitani emphasized that most batting mechanics flaws that are difficult or impossible to train out of a hitter are almost always related to vision. In one such case, I encountered a unique situation with one of my hitters. This player had a habit of tilting their head while batting, which created a hole in their swing. Their team coach repeatedly tried to correct this by insisting the player keep their head up and stop tilting. However, due to my training, I recognized this as a subconscious compensatory mechanism.

A misalignment of the eyeballs, often caused by asymmetries in the eye sockets or other structural issues, can lead to a condition known as anisometropia or anisometropic amblyopia. Anisometropia involves a significant difference in the refractive errors (e.g., nearsightedness or farsightedness) between the two eyes, resulting in unequal focusing abilities.

Recognizing the potential significance of this behavior, I referred the batter to Dr. Nikaitani, who confirmed my suspicion that this hitter had a vision issue manifesting as a swing mechanics flaw. Dr. Nikaitani crafted a pair of customized goggles for the player, equipped with a built-in prism. These goggles were designed to address the player’s vision issues, enabling them to maintain an upright head position while batting, which in turn, closed the hole in his swing.

The prismatic correction in the goggles played a crucial role in aligning the images seen by both of the player’s eyes, significantly improving their ability to track the ball accurately and broaden his strike zone coverage with his swing.

This anecdote underscores the importance of considering vision as a critical component of athletic performance in sports like baseball. It demonstrates the proactive approach taken to address vision-related challenges, resulting in improved performance and a more comfortable and effective batting technique.

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