I rarely, if ever set a batting tee down the middle of home plate and thigh or waist high because the swing fundamental feedback is not very conclusive on that easy to hit pitch location. Working the highs, lows, insides, and outsides of the strike zone is much more productive for developing and analyzing the baseball swing, when practicing on the tee.
In order to explain different aspects of a good swing, using two tees can help get points across, as seen in these videos. Many coaches and so called hitting experts cringe when they see the two tee low ball, highball setup, thinking I am teaching hitters to hit ground balls, but as seen here, that is far from the truth. This drill is necessary to help hitters eliminate long swings, which leave the bat barrel trailing under or around the ball. Most young hitters have long swings and the high low-ball drill helps develop a compact swing. When done correctly, line drives with backspin will be the result and to the field where the ball is located on the tee.
Frequently, I find myself saying these to my students, "It takes perfect fundamentals to drive the outside pitch to the opposite field, and once perfect, that is pretty good." Another statement is simply, "You cannot work on the outside pitch enough, because that is usually where pitchers are going to pitch you." Another, "Once you can handle that outside pitch, the others will be easy, it's just a matter of being a tad quicker."
All of these statements attest to the importance of hitting outer half of the plate pitches, or at least fouling them off until the pitcher makes a mistake in the middle or inner half of home. Of course, hitters are not intentionally fouling the ball off, but it is the result of a good swing on tough pitches, with the ball fouled straight back or off to the opposite field side.
Correct setup on the tee is always crucial, as hitters must stand the same distance from home that they do in games before setting the batting tees down, with the outer half pitch just a few inches in front of them and the inside pitches out front much more.
As implied, most young hitters drop their hands or barrel and try to guide the ball to the opposite field, resulting in pop ups or swings and misses, or cast the bat out resulting in many pulled ground balls. The two-ball drill on the outer half of the plate helps develop the perfect swing as any dropping of the barrel or casting out will cause the hitter to hit both balls or pulled balls hit on the ground. To hit line drives to the opposite field, hitters will have to have a compact swing and the correct bat angle at contact.
Once players get the feel of this correct swing with continual line drives I will do a similar drill on inside pitches, before proceeding to set a ball on each corner. Players then alternate hitting only one of the balls in this manner or even better, hit the ball that the coach calls out, either inside or outside, once the hitters front foot lands, thereby guaranteeing the same stride on each pitch.
After playing major league baseball, Jack Perconte has taught baseball and softball since 1988 and offered valuable coaching training too. He has helped numerous youth players reach their potential, as well as having helped parents and coaches navigate their way through the challenging world of youth sports. Jack is one of the leading authorities in the areas of youth baseball training and coaching training advice.All Jack Perconte articles are used with copyright permission.
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