As a high school or travel softball coach, chances are good that you use hitting stations to help organize your practices. Chances are also good that you use fastpitch softball batting tee drills as a part of those stations. If you aren’t, I highly recommend it. This is a great way to help your players get a lot of reps in a short period of time.
While I am not against having a full hitting practice on the field, I do not recommend doing this exclusively. Your girls need to see the end result of their hits on the field sometimes. However, if you ONLY hitting on the field then you are limiting the amount of reps your players are getting (not to mention having bored players).
Fastpitch softball batting tee drills are essential for hitting improvement, whether you are coaching a 10U team or the varsity high school. Unfortunately, these drills are often done incorrectly.
If you want to change a player’s mechanics, the tee is the best place to do it. Changing a player’s technique is MUCH more difficult with a ball moving at them. To help decrease frustration, have her work on it FIRST on the tee!
Today I am going to share 4 essential fastpitch softball batting tee drills that are all a part of the Intermediate to Expert Online Hitting Course. But before I do that, it’s important as a coach to understand the proper set-up for tee-work. You will need to remind your players of this frequently because some of them WILL forget and then butcher their tee-work.
Placement of the Feet:
When using the tee for any drill, it is CRITICAL that players understand how to properly set themselves next to the tee:
- The player should have the tee out in front of her foot after she takes her stride.
- This will allow her to hit the ball “out in front” properly for a simulated inside pitch. NOTE: For slappers working on hitting pitches to the left side they will want to have the ball “deeper” (behind their crossover foot) to force them to make an “inside-out” swing on an inside pitch.
- Below are pictures showing a hitter set-up for an inside pitch from the back-view and the side-view.
- Picture #1: Notice how in this example the tee is set-up out in front of the plate.
- If you do not have a plate to simulate pitch location, you will need to simply make sure that your hitters understand that they must set-up so the ball is in front of their foot after they take their stride.
- Picture #2: In this example, you can see from the side view that the ball once again is out in front of the stride-foot.
- NOTE: In this picture, the ball could have been a little farther out in front of the hitters foot.
- To simulate a pitch down the middle, the tee/ball should be EVEN with the hitter’s front foot AFTER her stride has been taken. This allows them to work on taking this pitch back “up the middle.”
- If the hitter does not take a stride, then she can start even with the ball. The important thing is that the ball is even with the front-foot as the hitter begins her swing.
- Below are pictures of a back-view and a side-view of hitters working on middle location tee-work.
- In picture #1, the plate was used as a visual cue once again. You can see how the tee is set-up on the front-edge of the plate and directly in the middle of the plate.
- Most importantly, you can see in both pictures how the hitters front-foot is even with the ball as they are swinging.
- For using the tee to work on outside pitches, the key is to have the ball BEHIND the front-foot after the player takes her stride.
- In both examples below, you can see how the ball is located behind the hitters front foot to allow the hitter to work on taking the pitch to the opposite field.
- In picture #1, you can see the ball traveling towards right field.
- NOTE: Be sure that you have the tee set-up a little farther away from the player as well to simulate an outside pitch.
- The top picture shows a good example of this with the tee located on the “back-outside” edge of the plate.
4 Fastpitch Softball Batting Tee Drills For Every Program
Now that you know the basics of getting your players set-up properly, I want to dive into 4 essential fastpitch softball batting tee drills that every new coach should have in their program!
Inside Location and Outside Location Drills:
The pictures and explanations above are actually what you will need for these first two drills. Once your players understand proper set-up based on location, simply assign a station as “outside tee-work” or “inside tee-work.”
You could also do “middle tee-work” if you simply wanted to have your players work on certain mechanics.
In fact, if you are working with a player individually on her mechanics, then the simple “middle tee drill” is what you will want to use much of the time.
Nothing fancy here, but you don’t always need “fancy.” Sometimes keeping it simple is best. These simple location drills are a great way to teach mechanics as well as helping players work on hitting each location properly (“contact points”).
One additional note: When doing these location tee drills, have your players look “out” at an imaginary pitcher before taking their swing. This will force their eyes to follow a path that is more similar to a game situation.
The “Walk-Through Drill” is a great way to help your players develop rhythm with their swing. It also helps them to feel how the upper body and lower body work together during the swing phase. The 3 pictures below show the different phases of the drill:
- The player starts well behind the tee.
- The goal is for her to end up with her front foot even with the ball at contact (middle tee location).
- She can start with her hands just like is pictured here, OR with them in the middle of her body to emphasize proper movement of the hands during the load phase.
- As shown in picture #2, the batter then takes her back foot and steps across her front foot.
- Lastly, she brings her left foot forward (right handed hitter) as shown in picture #3.
- In essence, she is walking into her stride during the last phase of the drill.
- You can also see from picture #3 that her hands “separate” from her back shoulder at this point. (The knob should be pointed back at the catcher).
Take It To Contact Drill:
This drill is a simple but effective way to have your players check their upper body mechanics. As pictured below, you can also do this on a front-toss drill, but it is much easier (and sometimes more effective) while working off of a tee. Below is the breakdown of the drill:
- The player will set-up in the “middle tee location” described above.
- Instruct the player to take a swing but then immediately stop her swing at the point of contact.
- Once the player has stopped her swing, she should check her body position for proper mechanics.
- Is her upper body in the proper “contact position?”
- Have her hips begun to come through?
- Is she in the “palm-up, palm-down” position with her hands?
- Is her back heel point to the sky?
Doing this drill repeatedly will help players better understand and feel what their body should be doing from start to contact. Sometimes with full swings it can be difficult for players to feel proper “pre-contact” mechanics!
So there you have it! 4 essential fastpitch softball batting tee drills! Using the “inside drill”, “outside drill”, “walk-through drill”, and “take it to contact drill” will help your players improve their swings!