Baseball offseason workouts improve focus, build Railer Pride

Faye Smith

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When watching the game of baseball, there is an array of endeavors going on. Throwing and catching, hitting and pitching. But when working on the technique of those fundamentals, it is not always working with an athlete’s body and its strength. A player must also use his cognitive skills. Head baseball coach Mark George has been working with his players on building their cognitive skills using a technique called Bal-A-Vis-X.

“Basically it’s bouncing balls or exchanging bean bags from one hand to another. It seems very simple, but, in reality, it’s pretty challenging. It is a combination of balance, vision, rhythm, tracking and timing. It’s really important for developing some cognitive skills and developing your eyes. We are trying to improve the focus and concentration of our athletes,” George said.
Student-athletes in George’s seminar participate in Bal-A-Vis-X during advisory period as a team. They use this as a way to build strength in their minds, as they do with their bodies on the field.

“I think it will improve focus, not just on the field but also in class. Studies show, particularly in reading, how our eyes track words sometimes has an impact on our overall literacy. If we can improve their eyes in terms of how they track and make them better readers, naturally they will be more confident,” George said. “So the more literate you are, the more confident you are, and knowledge brings confidence. The more confident my individuals are in the classroom the more confident they will be on the field as well.”

For some players, they see how Bal-A-Vis-X will help improve their offensive abilities .

“Well, I think it’s going to help me a lot with hitting, because I often have trouble with that. I have trouble seeing the ball out of the hand of the pitcher, so I think that will improve that as well,” junior Jace Maxwell said.
As the offseason training approached, George had an opportunity to include coach Chris Jaax’s football team with his baseball team during his preseason winter workouts. He was hesitant at first when hearing about the chance, but George quickly realized that with the school-wide focus on Railer Pride, this would provide a great opportunity for both teams.

“Coach Jaax and I have gotten together and we have decided that two days a week we will be Railer specific, and two days a week we will be sport specific. Mondays and Wednesdays, baseball guys and football guys will get together and we’re going to do some things that focus on Railer Pride and being Railers,” George said. “I think it creates a very competitive and proud culture that understands the importance of good work ethics and supporting one another and that we all matter. It doesn’t matter what sport it is, we’re all important. We’re all making sacrifices, and respect and honor these people who are making these sacrifices.”

Ultimately, George and Jaax plan on creating a positive attitude among students no matter the activity.

“Whether you’re a baseball player, basketball player, football player, wrestler, bowler, forensics, debater whatever, we’re all Railers. It’s better that we all lift each other up and not tear each other down, as a result of being jealous of one another. I believe there’s a lot of hating, and haters. So Coach Jaax and I are going to try eliminate haters and create participators,” George said.