This question was brought up on social media so I thought I would tackle it here since I have been wanting to do a hitting drill specific post anyways. I know everyone talks about intent and launch and exit velo but before we even get there we need to make contact. To make it even more difficult we need to make accurate contact or “square up” the ball. This is dependent on a lot of things but its important to keep in mind that pitch type, speed, and location determine a lot of what the swing does to make contact.
One thing that drives me CRAZY is when I see post after post online of hitter working and changing their swing off the tee and flips. Tell me how this will translate into a game? I worked with a few high school kids who worked on this all off season and the weekend before tryouts they showed up to the cages to hit off a 70 mph machine. Guess what? They didn’t square one ball up and actually was late on 90% of them. So how do you think they did in try out? Off a tee they looked great but even when a coach did overhand pitching with some speed, they fell apart. Lets always remember this when we discuss drills.
- High Tee Drill Middle Up – This is the staple drill for most guys, especially for warming up and being in a routine.
- Tee setup in the middle of the plate
- Height should be at or above shoulders (Im 6′ 2″ and it gets to my shoulders)
- Tee should be between center mass and front foot for location
- No stride
- Start with choking up 4-5″ then work to regular grip over time
- Line drives right up the middle and head high
Let the hitter figure this out on their own at first. This is hard for guys to conquer. It can take 3 minutes or 1 week for someone to get this. If the hitter is struggling we can use swing thoughts like this:
- Swing above the ball. Literally try to swing above it and miss it.
- Swing down. Feel like you are swinging straight down.
- If the hitter is popping up you can place a ball on the ground 5′ in front of the tee and tell him to hit the ball at the ball on the ground. We need to overcompensate here.
- Just let the ball get in the way of rotation. Just turn with a high barrel.
- Work front elbow inside the ball at ball height.
- High Tee Drill Away Up – This just takes the above drill and moves the tee to the outside corner, deeper back, and the hitter will stride. All the same concepts apply above.
- One Handed High Tee Middle Up – If you want to make the above drills harder, use one hand.
- Find out which hand dominate hitters are. Do all drills with bottom hand and then top hand.
- This is where barrel control comes into play and hitters really learn what their body is doing.
- No stride
- You may want to have them use kids bats like a -10 and choke up a lot.
- Goal is to hit line drives up the middle.
- Switch hands.
- Back to High Tee Middle Up – Now we take full stride swings with the same focus as head high line drives up the middle. Everything before was controlled and learning how the body needs to move to hit these high tee balls. Now we go into swing mode and stride.
- Low Tee Inside – You have to mix it up. Don’t get comfortable with hitting balls in one location.
- Now the player will need to work in their head how to hit a ball down and in when they just have been working on up and up and away.
- What happens here is all the swing thoughts they used to hit the high pitch will need to be accounted for on low balls inside.
- Create good habits and place the tee 8-12″ in front of the plate. The further out front the better. Train the mind and body to be early and turn on these balls. Contact out front.
- Hit pull side higher line drives but make sure the hitter is driving the ball and not pulling off it. Also make sure the hitter is getting into the ball. I like to have the hitter feel that they are punching the ball with their top hand and driving the back shoulder/hip through the ball and finishing over the plate or in front of the plate.
- Low Tee Inside One Handed – Same as the above drill but with one hand. Use both hands. Remember to choke up and use a lighter bat if necessary.
- Low Tee Away – Make the hitter get to every location.
- Place the tee on the deep outside corner. Make sure that the stance and stride are the same and the hitter isn’t changing it to compensate for a different tee location.
- The goal here is to hit low line drives to the SS or 2nd basemen depending on if they are R/L handed. These will go oppo.
- Low Tee Away One Handed – Same as the above drill but with one hand. Use both hands. Remember to choke up and use a lighter bat if necessary.
Now that we made it hard, lets do a few other tee drills to get the hitter back to actual swing thoughts and work.
- Middle Middle Tee – Here we make it a normal mid/mid location and just let the hitter swing as usual. Hopefully the previous work makes him get into these balls and square them up and hits hard line shots down the middle. Make sure no roll over or pop ups are happening. A consistent back/top of the cage is the goal here. We are also trying to build their confidence back up from all the hard locations and one handed stuff.
I could continue on here but I am assuming that whoever is reading this is not an MLB player with hours a day 7 days a week to perfect their swing. But this would be a warm up in one of those days and would be repeated until the player thought they were 90% on every location. So lets just look at this as step 1, I will adjust my title.