Hitting is about timing and body mechanics. The faster players react and move, the harder they can hit the ball with power and accuracy. Here, we’ve compiled 9 batting drills that help take your hitting to the next level.
Batting tees have become more and more popular over the last decade, because hitters can repeat their swing mechanics many times over, helping them correct their stride and body’s shift to the baseball and see instant results.
Baseball tees like the popular Tanner Tee has a height adjustment feature, so hitters can be drilled hitting balls pitched on the inside and outside of the plate, and the entire strike zone area, from low across the knees up to high on the chest.
Warm Up Tee Drill
This is a warm up drill and is performed before team practice or the start of a game. The drill is for loosening up your feet, legs, hips, arms and shoulders. The drill starts off easy then works up to hitting the different kinds of throws you’ll be pitched in a game.
- Start out by taking 15-20 smooth, easy swings. Don’t try to hit the ball hard. Instead, let your swinging mechanics fall into place as you connect your bat to the ball. Don’t be too concerned about your stance. (More about your stance later).
- Next, isolate the lower part of your body in the swing, – legs, knees and feet. You’re your eyesight to an imaginary pitcher 60 feet away. Your feet need to be aligned to the batting tee the same way they are when you take your regular batting stance facing the pitcher at the plate. As you swing through the ball, visualize it coming from the pitcher’s mound. Think of the half second of time it takes for the ball to reach you from the pitcher’s hand.
- Maintain your smooth, easy swing and swing to the imaginary pitched ball for another 10 repetitions.
Outside Pitch Tee Drill
The focus of this drill is to work on hitting the ball to the opposite field. Move the batting tee farther back and on the outside of the plate. This drill and the Inside Pitch Tee Drill are best performed using a standard home plate.
Setup: Back off far enough to where you will stand for an outside pitch. Make sure you’re deep enough in the zone for the outside pitch. Line up your batting stance so that the inside part of your front foot lines up. That means your front foot will be lined up about 4 inches ahead of the tee towards the pitcher’s mound.
Try to make a strong swing to hit the outside pitch. Players tend to have a lazy swing when performing this drill. You should swing aggressively, and swing through the ball.
Think of this drill as a hit and run drill as well. Stay on top of the ball and hit it in a downward angle to the opposite field.
- Keep your stride and don’t stride to the outside pitch.
- When you make contact with the ball off the tee, make sure the bat head is behind the hands.
- Bat contact with the ball off the tee happens before you’ve swung through completely. This is how the ball goes to the opposite field (right field for a righty, left field for a lefty).
- In your swing, your hips and back foot will face in the opposite direction of the direction you want the ball to travel. So, if you’re a right handed hitter, your hips and feet should be facing left field. If you are left handed, hips and feet face right field.
- Always keep your bat level. Don’t drop the bat head, or the ball’s direction of travel will be affected.
Inside Pitch Tee Drill
The purpose of this batting tee drill is to get you to pull the ball for power, even when you get jammed by the pitch close to your body on the inside. Knowing how to hit this pitch is as important as hitting outside pitches as well.
A lot of hitters, when they get jammed, tend to inside-out the ball, making the ball go weakly to the opposite field. If you pull the ball correctly, it will have a lot more punch and travel further.
Setup: Scoot your body close enough to the ball so that when you swing through, the ball contacts the widest part of the bat’s barrel. Your front foot is placed a little in front of the batting tee post, so that the tee runs in a straight line along an imaginary line outside of your foot.
When you are in this stance, take a practice swing motion without making contact with the ball. The fat part of the barrel should line up perfectly with the ball on the tee. If the bat barrel lines up too close to the hands, you will hit a foul tip or a weak grounder. If the barrel lines up too close to the end of the bat, you will foul tip the ball or hit it weakly to the opposite field.
- Keep your hands close to your body. The ball will try to jam you.
- When the bat comes into contact with the ball, the bat head should be in front of the hands. Being in front will pull the ball to go down your power alley.
- Your hips and back foot by the shoelaces should be facing left field if you’re a right handed batter. Left handed batters should face right field in the hips and laces on your back foot.
- You want to hit the ball on the sweet spot on the bat barrel.
- Swing through a few balls in this inside pitch position. Keep your body relaxed.
- If the ball doesn’t pull or move off the bat fast and with power, adjust by moving farther away from the ball.
- Keep making body position adjustments until the ball pulls and has a powerful punch.
Downward Swing Batting Tee Drill (2 Batting Tees)
This drill helps you develop your downward swing so you make contact with the ball and not swing and miss. It’s a great drill to help fix your swing if you have too much of an uppercut. Swinging upward usually produces fly balls and swinging past the ball, but having a good downward swing will also help you strike out less, and hit ground balls for base hits.
Use two batting tees for this drill. You don’t need to place the tees on home plate.
Setup: Set up one tee at a height somewhere in the strike zone where you normally hit. Then place the second tee 3 to 6 inches behind the first tee, and raise it a foot higher than the first tee. Put a baseball on each tee.
- Swing your normal swing. Your bat will need to pass over the ball on the higher tee.
- As you swing, try not to hit the higher ball. You’ll need to swing downward over the high ball. Perform 10 swings.
- Remember to start from a normal swing position. The swing should be on one consistent path.
- When you are able to swing over the high ball and make contact with the ball on the lower tee, raise the back tee a couple of inches higher, and only make contact with the ball on the lower tee in front of the higher tee. Give this an additional 10 tries.
- Make sure not to drop your hands.
Power Hitting Drill Off the Tee
In this drill, you’ll use a basketball and your baseball bat. If you deflate the basketball a little, it will be easier to swing through it.
To set up, raise the tee to a level a little at or above your waist. (in your strike zone). Stand as you normally do when hitting baseballs in the strike zone. Put a basketball or soccer ball on the batting tee.
Swing as you normally would, with the same speed on the bat as if you’re hitting a baseball. Swing through the basketball. You will feel a recoil, but swing through any way as best you can.
The drill becomes effective when you try and hit the basketball so it travels far, not as far as a baseball, of course. You don’t just want to hit the basketball, you want to really clobber it. Hit the basketball with the meatiest part of the bat barrel.
You should do 12 repetitions swinging through the basketball. After that, place a regular baseball on the batting tee. Swing with the same force you applied to hitting the basketball. The ball will travel much farther.
This drill develops your body’s muscle memory and refines your swinging mechanics. Doing this drill on a regular basis will ensure your arms, hands and legs develop muscle memory. You will begin noticing in practice and in games that you’ve started hitting the ball harder. If you’re in a hitting slump, this drill will remind you that if you can hit a basketball for a decent distance, then hitting a lighter baseball will seem almost too easy by comparison.
Batter’s Box Batting Tee Drill
This drill help you to focus on your position inside the batter’s box. Getting the best hits you can at the bat, you need to stay in the batter’s box. If you move back too far you give the pitcher the opportunity to throw you outside pitches that are hard to hit. The further you are away from home plate, the easier it is for the pitcher to force you to hit poorly or strike you out. You are giving the pitcher a larger area to pitch in when you’re too far back from the plate.
For this drill, you’ll need a ball, batting tee, bat, and a tire to put your foot into. Put the baseball on top of the tee, and place the tire a few inches in front of your front foot.
- Swing as you usually do, focusing on making sure your front foot lands in the tire after you swing.
- To make this happen, you’ll have to step forward, not side to side. If you move sideways, your foot will miss going into the tire hole.
- Perform 10 repetitions and swing the ball while making your front foot land in the tire hole.
By doing this drill once or twice a week, your balance will improve a lot. That means you’ll force the pitcher to throw over a smaller space (because you’re staying in the box). The smaller pitch area gives you that much more area from which to hit, and better pitches to look at. Your line drive hitting up the middle of the field, and also hitting inside pitches, will improve vastly.
Elements of the Swing Batting Tee Drill
Your swing takes less than one second for your bat to go from behind your head, to making contact with the baseball. Within that second try to imagine your body mechanics going through five distinct movements from start to finish.
Stance: Each batter has a unique stance, all his own. No two are alike. How you stand will have little to no impact on how well you hit the ball. Generally speaking, though, the simpler your stance is, and the more athletic, the better you’ll move through your swing mechanics.
Stride: Like your stance, your stride is also unique to you. Well known major league ballplayers have different, unusual strides but still get great results. It works for them. Some batters hit with a high knee lift that places a good deal of weight inside the back foot, then striding forward toward the pitcher. Others have a simple front heel lift with no forward stride to the pitcher. There’s no one correct way to stride, but there are certain things that great hitters have in common, and do after their front foot lands:
- Their feet end up as wide as the length of the bat.
- Their hands are set around shoulder height with flexibility in the front arm.
- When the bat is at an acute angle behind their head, and the knob of the bat points to the ground behind him.
- Their back elbow is at shoulder height or a little bit below shoulder height.
- They land softly on the inside of their front foot.
Shift: How you distribute your weight is important. You want to take your weight fluidly from the inside of your back foot to the inside of your front foot. Your swing should start from the ground moving up, and power is transferred into the bat.
Place a baseball on the tee. While focusing on how you stand, your stride and shifting your weight forward, study your own swing-through. Your weight should move from your back leg into your front leg, hands remaining back. Swing the bat forward and rotate through.
As your bat makes contact with the ball, keep track of your body movements from your stance, through the stride and the shifting of body weight. Swing through the ball with power.
This drill is as much of a mental exercise as a tee drill. All of it happens before you make contact with the ball. Observe your movements through these 3 key areas, and watch how much power you put in the ball. Fine tune your shift forward, and determine what stance, stride and shift combination yields the best hits off the tee.
Batting Tee Rhythm Drill
Imagine you are learning dance steps for an upcoming event with your partner. This drill is like learning dance steps, except it’s designed to maximize your hitting potential.
Place a ball on the batting tee. Take your front foot to your back foot. Next, move your back foot back. Next, move your back foot to your front foot, followed by your front foot stepping forward, landing on the inside part. Shift your body and back leg.
Don’t swing the bat yet. Repeat these steps one more time, and this time follow through and hit the ball. The steps are back – forward – shift – back – forward – swing.
Double Tee Inside Outside Drill
Set up two tees and place one ball on the inside half of the plate and the other on the outside of the plate. The inside ball is placed in front of the plate and the outside ball is placed farther back on the plate.
Make sure the inside ball is located in front of plate and the outside ball is located farther back on the plate. Get into your normal batting stance position.
Your coach or a team mate calls out which ball to hit, inside or outside. Remember, your stride has already started and the ball you’re to hit is called at the same time, so you must react quickly to hit the right ball.
Because it’s a difficult drill, you may tend to bring your weight forward. It’s important, though, for you to keep your weight back.