Objective: to effectively use a batting tee.
The tee is one of the most useful tools for training to hit a fast pitched ball. It allows you to work on your swing in a controlled, stable environment, with an assistant, or on your own. Additionally, you can use it to add difficulty to your training as your ability improves, with options like changing the location of the ball.
Training set-up: It is recommended to have a tee and a flat “throw down” home plate. Any type of tee can be used, as long as you have a separate “throw down” home plate. If you do not have a” throw down plate” it is best that you use a standard black tee. Set your tee up, place the flat side of your throw down plate directly behind the neck of the tee. If you do not have a” throw down plate” and you are using a standard black tee, with the neck of the tee in the middle of the base that is shaped like a home plate, turn the tee around so the flat edge of the tee faces the catcher and the pointed end of the base faces the pitcher. You can also make your own home plate by tracing and cutting out a home plate using various material. I have seen people use carpet, rubber, thin wood or bath mats.
Basic swing training: Most training will be done with the ball placed in the middle of plate (or strike zone) and at the front of the throw down plate. This is done by placing the center and neck of the tee in this position. You would then take a balanced stance at the proper distance from the plate. The position of your feet should be set such that when you take a normal stride (or no stride as some hitters prefer), your front toes will end up in line with the ball (and neck of the tee). You should use the corners of the plate as a consistent guide to position yourself to hit from the tee. You are now ready to hit. (Don’t forget to place a ball on the tee, and if hitting indoors, hit into a net.)
Ball Focus: To help train your focus on the ball, place the ball on the tee in a consistent manner with regard to the seams (or marks placed on the ball). One method is to place the ball on the tee with two seams parallel to the ground, facing the catcher. For a line drive, focus on hitting the ball directly in between the two seams. For situational practice hitting long fly balls, focus on hitting the ball on the lower seam or below. For situational practice hitting ground balls, focus on hitting the ball on the upper seam or higher.
Training to hit different height pitches: Simply raise or lower the neck of the tee to the appropriate height to practice hitting pitches at different heights in the strike zone, or even pitches outside of the strike zone.
Training to hit corner pitches: As noted earlier, place the tee directly down the middle of the plate at the front edge of the throw down plate to simulate a pitch down the middle. To simulate an inside pitch, place the neck of the tee approximately 6-8” in front of the throw down plate, but in line with the inside corner of the plate. Do not change the relative position of your stance to the throw down plate for this location. The position of your stance will always be based on the middle center of the plate. Conversely, to simulate an outside pitch, place the neck of the tee on the outside back corner of the throw down plate. Again, do not change the relative position of your stance to the throw down plate for this location. You can also simulate more pitches by moving the tee even farther inside or outside and combining this changing the height of the tee.