Making Tee Work Game Like, Challenging, and Fun
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Often, coaches and hitters set a batting tee down and proceed to swing at the same ball for a significant number of swings. This practice is excellent when working on a particular swing mechanic and for getting loose. After a while, it is best to mix it up some. One thing I like to do is treat the batting tee use like in-game or batting practice pitching, where it is unlikely that two pitches in a row are the same.
The following drills help players learn different points of contact for different pitch locations as well as bat control. They also must learn to adjust to different pitch locations in a quick manner, as they must do in games.
Ways to Use a batting tee to simulate in-game hitting
- Move the tee location and height after every swing. This batting tee use simulates live hitting when rarely are two consecutive pitches are the same.
- Set the same pitch location on the tee for three or four swings and then totally change the tee to the opposite and see if the hitter can hit that first one solidly. For example, the hitter takes four consecutive swings at the letter-high location, before setting the tee at the knees for the next swing. Many ball placement variations exist, of course.
- Use two tees and place them at different locations, having hitters hit the ball called out (high or low, or out or in) by a coach after the completion of the stride. One tee should be set at a high and away and the other at the knees on the inside corner. This drill can include a third tee set up waist high and down the middle. Note: This is about the only way to set the tees for this drill as any other way will cause the hitter to strike both tees.
- When taking live batting practice, if a player is struggling with a specific pitch location, set a tee out in that location and have them get the feel of hitting that location on the tee before resuming live batting practice.
Advanced methods to simulate live hitting (sophisticated means not only hitters but a coach’s ability to do these correctly also)
- Have the batter close their eyes and then set the tee at any pitch location. Proceed to have the batter stride with their eyes closed, and upon opening them, locate the ball and swing immediately.
- Set a ball either at the knees on a tee either on the inside or outside corner. Flip balls from the side or straight on to batters from behind a pitching screen. Be sure to miss the ball setting on the tee. Have hitters hit the flipped ball unless you yell out “Tee” as the ball approaches, whereby they hit the ball sitting on the tee in that direction. This drill is very advanced but will ensure batters wait and adjust at the last second, which simulates movement on the ball as with a curveball or other off-speed pitch.