INSTRUCTIONAL FRIDAY – TEE WORK
The purpose of Instructional Friday since it began on Dirtbags baseball was to provide players and coaches with some focused views on the development of baseball skills and to support that with drills and insight. While hopefully much fruit was produced by the previous editions in the series, the hope going forward is to tap into the enormous wealth of knowledge in the game held by those that coach the many Dirtbags teams.
Each week a specific topic of the game will be considered with some questions that look to narrow the conversation and make these skills available to the reader through either practical application or suggested drills. The explanations are in the words of the coaches and will surely encompass a range of perspectives to enhance player performances at a variety of levels.
This week’s topic is hitting and more specifically, using Tee Work to improve the swing. The coaches sitting in on the discussion are:
- Brendan Dougherty – Dirtbags 17u coach / Director of South Carolina for Dirtbags Baseball
- Hunter Ridge – Dirtbags 15u coach
- Logan Koch – Dirtbags 14u coach / Middle School Director for Dirtbags Baseball
WHAT IS A SPECIFIC HITTING SKILL YOU LIKE TO USE TEE WORK TO DEVELOP?
BD – We want the tee to develop a consistent bat path to all pitches in a very controlled environment.
HR – Pitch location. If a player is having trouble hitting backside or the inside pitch. Tee work is all for muscle memory with your swing.
LK – Getting a better feel for your swing and being able to pick out a certain mechanic and work through it.
WHAT DRILL OR DRILLS WILL YOU USE TO EMPHASIZE THIS SKILL? AND WHAT FEEDBACK DOES THE DRILL PROVIDE?
BD – I think all hitters should have a Tee Routine. Develop there own set of drills for things they need to work on. I like to use a device I call the wall to create barrel depth and get the barrel on a consistent path to match the plane of the pitch. Move the tee around. Place the tee as low to ground as possible. There is no reason to have the tee belt high in the middle of the plate pitchers do not try to pitch there.
HR – High tee is perfect for working to get on top of the ball. For backside hitting set the tee 2 baseball lengths off the plate. For inside trouble set the tee 2 baseball lengths inside and try to stay up the middle with the swing. I always like to do the 2 balls off approach because in tee work if you can get to that pitch, then in a game you know you can too!
LK – The walk through drill. It helps to create rhythm and fluidity through the entire swing. It helps guys that might get too tight in the box and it can allow them to really feel themselves staying through the middle of the field and create more backspin. If they pull off or over rotate they will feel it more and won’t be able to stay in the middle of the field. Players should be trying to hit the ball to centerfield on the drill.
WHAT TYPES OF DRILLS OR EVEN APPROACH WILL YOU FOLLOW YOUR TEE WORK WITH TO GET BEST RESULTS?
BD – You have to have a plan anytime you are hitting and focusing on using the big part of the field even off the tee is something I see a lot of young hitters failing to do. I like using the wall with Tee Work but I also am a fan of Low Tee: Middle, In, Away High Tee: Middle, In, Away and Hover Drill.
HR – Following tee work, front toss is another big step to help work on your weaknesses. All these drills you should be going between 75-80%. The approach should always be hunting fastballs then location.
LK – Follow up with angled front toss to keep the same bat path. Angled front toss keeps players from pulling off because if they do, they won’t hit the ball cleanly.
Check back next week as the Instructional Friday takes a look at some defensive skills for catchers.