Sometimes you have to slow down and just watch

I just read a profile of Bill Neukom in the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Neukom is currently the CEO of the San Francisco Giants, but prior to that spent 25 years as legal counsel for Microsoft.  He started advising the company when his employer, Bill Gates Sr., asked him to advise his son’s company, which had 12 employees. He stuck around and ended up leading Microsoft legal before retiring as EVP, Law and Corporate Affairs.  This post isn’t about law though, it’s about baseball, and maybe a little more.

The end of the profile talks about a new hitting drill the Giants are trying out:

“There is [also] a technology of colored tennis balls that come out of a pitching machine. You’re in a batting cage, and into the machine [a technician] feeds bright yellow tennis balls and bright red tennis balls [with] black Arabic numerals on them. The first thing [the batter does] is … watch. After a while, you can call the color. And then they say, don’t swing, just watch it, give me a number. Red seven. Yellow three.

Your brain and your eyes are adjusting to things coming at very fast speeds. The whole point is to shrink the blind spot for the hitter and to slow down the pitch, so that when you’re seeing a white baseball coming at you, you can have a better chance of seeing its rotation, knowing what kind of pitch it is, and, most importantly, where it’s going to go in that last few critical feet before it gets over the plate.”

To become better at hitting, sometimes you have to not swing. Sounds very much like business and life advice to me.

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