The Greatness of the Hitting Tee

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Besides a bat and ball, the hitting tee is easily the most useful hitting tool on the market. Whether you want to work on the basic swing fundamentals, or if you are working on specific pitches, a tee puts the ball exactly where it needs to be and allows the player to get in repetition with immediate feedback. Further, having players hit from the tee, allows the coach to observe and instruct.

A Few Hitting Tee Drills

Some softball players have a real tendency to drop their hands when they begin their swing. One hitting drill for this is to have the players hit off of a high tee. Adjust the tee so that the ball is about middle of the chest high. This helps for the batter to take her hands straight to the ball. If she drops her hands the bat will go under the ball. The problem, dropping hands, becomes very evident. Most girls think they are going to smack the daylights out of a high pitch, only to have a look of total surprise that the swung at a stationary ball and MISSED.

For working on the basic swing fundamentals, we like to hang a target on a fence for the players to hit to. Be sure to hang the target about eye level. Now move the tee back about 10 feet from the fence and have your players hit away. The first time I did this, I was so disappointed at how few times my players could hit the target. I think they were equally disappointed. The real greatness of this hitting drill is the immediate feedback the player gets. She knows right away if she hit the target or not. As the coach, you can start to determine the flaws in your player’s swings. Are they chopping at the ball, golfing, taking their eye off the ball, or do they have a weight shift problem, etc.? During this drill, you will see your players really start to focus on their hitting technique moreso than on any other hitting drill.

For more advanced hitting drills, you can hang targets to the left for inside pitch work, and to the right for outside pitch work. Interestingly, during the outside pitch work, I tend to notice players casting at the ball (stretching out their arms) rather than hitting through the ball. It’s important the player learns to hit this pitch a little further back in the strike zone, not to try to pull this pitch, and swing through the ball. Be sure your target is eye level as we want the players to hit line drives.

You might think hitting off of a tee is too basic. Every coach’s clinic, including college level clinics, I’ve ever attended has stressed the importance of hitting tee drills. The longer I coach, the more I agree that your hitters can’t spend enough time on the hitting tee.

If you don’t already have a hitting tee, just search the internet for hitting tee or jugs hitting tee. My personal favorite would be the jugs 5 point tee. Most tees are center point, and I have seen some that are nine point. If you have a pretty young team or if your budget is already strained, a single point or center point hitting tee will suffice. It’s my opinion that the nine point tees are overkill. I’m not teaching my players to hit a ball down the middle at the back edge of the plate. So why practice it. However, a 5 point hitting tee is excellent for learning to hit inside and outside pitches for right and left handed hitters. I’ve also seen a "Stay Back" hitting tee, that appears to address weight shift problems, that looks very intriguing.

One final tip for utilizing these hitting tee drills. Depending on your softball players’ age and maturity level, either have them work on the tee with a coach present or by themselves. Try to avoid having them work on the tee with a teammate. I have found this usually turns into talk time and the hitter may develop poor hitting habits which is counter-productive. If you choose to let them work alone, be sure to tell them to have a purpose while they are practicing. Surprisingly, working alone can be very productive, in particular if you have targets for them to hit towards.

If you want to know more, or purchase your own Jugs 5 Point Hitting Tee just click on the link below. Single point hitting tees can be found for about $19.99.

Softballsales.com price of $54.99 as of 1-13-2008 Softball.com

OnlineSports price $68.68 as of 3-13-07 - Shop Your Favorite Sports at OnlineSports.com

DicksSportingGoods.com - $54.99

So, TEE IT UP COACH!!!

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