How to Use a Batting Tee Like a Pro: Part 2
In Part One of “How to Use a Batting Tee Like a Pro”, MN Twin Doug Bernier discussed the importance of hitting tee placement and contact points when properly using a batting tee.
Increasing Your Hot Zone at the Plate
A ‘hot zone’ in baseball is the area in or around the strike zone that hitters are more likely to hit. For many of us, it is the middle-middle pitch (waist-high, center plate). Obviously, pitchers won’t serve up that middle-middle pitch very often. Pitchers will try to paint the corners because they know many hitters won’t have their “A” swing on the inside and outside part of the strike zone.
It makes sense that if we can expand our hot zone with batting tee training, we can have more success at the plate because we can handle more types of pitches thrown to us, beyond the optimal middle-middle area of the strike zone.
Understanding the following keys will help us expand our hot zone while practicing off a hitting tee tee.
Key #1: Move the Batting Tee Outside of Your Comfort Zone
Hitters who use a batting tee like a pro don't keep the tee stationary in one spot for too long. Instead, try moving the tee a little further from your comfort zone after each swing.
To begin, place the tee in the middle-middle area of the plate that is optimal for your “A” swing. Take your best cut and move the tee to the outside or inside (if you are using the Tanner Hitting Deck, follow the guidelines on the mat). Now, take another “A” swing. After this cut, move the tee once more further from your optimal placement.
By consistently moving the batting tee throughout the strike zone, you will not fall into a pattern of getting too comfortable with just one pitch location. Always remember to maintain sound swing mechanics. Practicing this type of drill will help you increase your barrel awareness and barrel accuracy.
Key #2: Focus on Your Launch Position
Focus on keeping your launch position consistent with every swing, no matter where the tee is positioned. Your launch position is your position when the front heel makes contact with the ground after the stride. The launch position is also the position the hitter gets into just before the hands begin moving the bat towards the ball. In order to have a successful swing, a hitter must achieve proper balance, posture as well as hand/hip separation in the launch position.
Maintaining a consistent launch position is vital for delivering a good swing through the strike zone every time. Avoid making the mistake of opening up slightly when placing a tee for an inside swing or leaning in when the tee is placed away for outside pitches. This will change your launch position and lead to a poor and inconsistent swing.
Key #3: Stand in the Same Place Each Time
It is important to stand in the same place in the batter’s box each and every time if you want to use a batting tee like a pro. This goes for hitting off a tee and in real pitching situations. The more we can duplicate our stance, our launch position and our swing, the more we can begin to visualize the strike zone window in front of us and as close as possible to the pitcher’s release point.
The Tanner Net
A tool that Doug uses extensively is the Tanner Net. This portable, 7’ x 7’ training net sets up quickly and easily in just a few minutes. It has a convenient carrying case so you can take it anywhere. It is rugged and built to last, season after season.
Low Tee, High Tee Drill
One of the best batting tee drills to help expand our hot zone is the low tee, high tee drill. Start with your optimal tee position, normally the middle-middle area, and expand from there. First, lower the tee and hit away, then further away (keeping on the diagonal approach). Then hit inside, etc. After that, raise the tee and hit away and inside. Always check to make sure that your stance and launch position are being consistent from swing to swing.
Every hitter has a slightly different hot zone. Once you utilize this drill, you will begin to realize which pitches you hit well and which pitches you struggle with. If you do feel that a certain tee position gives you less than your best swing, feel free to leave the tee there for a few more cuts to determine how to best connect with that pitch. Discovering which pitches you need extra work on is the first step to eventually increasing your hot zone
Being able to connect with more “A” swings in the strike zone will make you a better hitter and connect with more power for extra-base hits.
Thank you Doug!
Tanner Tees wants to thank Doug Bernier again for these great tips to help more hitters learn to use a batting tee like a pro.
Please stay tuned for more hitting content coming soon.
In case you missed it, read "How To Use A Batting Tee Like A Pro" - Part One.