Players, especially younger ones, often look at the hitting tee as something that’s only useful to beginners. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Working off the tee has a huge amoung of value to players of all experience levels, as this guest post by David Morgan of The Planet of Baseball explains.
One thing most new fastpitch softball players realize as soon as they get into the game is there is actually nothing soft about softball. They quickly find that hitting a ball is not as easy as great hitters make it look.
It is common to find that new players have very poor swings and some may not even know how to hit off a tee. However, softball coaches have devised various drills that can help players improve their skills and develop good hitting habits.
One way softball players can learn how to hit off a tee is to regularly engage in tee work. We shall explore how tee work helps softball players to become better at the sport.
Accuracy is definitely important in the game of softball. For a player to hit off a tee accurately, he/she must maintain focus; tee work is very useful in achieving this precision.
For example, it`s possible for a coach to hang a target on a pole and ask the players to hit it. This target should be placed at eye level so that the player can easily see it.
The major advantage of this method is the player clearly knows whether he/she hits the target or not. In the event that the player misses regularly, the coach could use this opportunity to help the player work on her swings. In addition, it could help the coach identify if the player has problems concentrating by observing whether he/she regularly take his/her eye off the ball.
One common problem that softball players must combat is knowing how to time their bodies.
In fact it is common for softball players to lower their hands as they begin their swing. The result of this is that they end up missing balls they should have hit. Engaging in tee work helps address this problem.
The easiest way to accomplish this is to have players with this issue hit off a high tee, for instance somewhere around the chest region. If the player happens to drop his/her hands, then her bat would go right under the ball. When players repeat this practice often, the tendency to drop their hands as they begin their swing will be reduced.
Keeps the body in shape
Apart from helping players improve their skills, tee work can also help keep players in good shape.
Sometimes, most players come back from an extended lay off only to discover that their bodies are no longer in tune with the game. This is when tee work becomes very important as it helps to prepare the muscles for the new season.
It can also help players work on specific problems before a game begins, such as an inability to hit to the opposite field. The ability to hit to the backside enables a player to move runners and throw off the defense.
Developing more advanced skills
In most cases tee work is done when the coach is present. However, mature players can also do it on their own.
One of the advanced skills a player can develop from hitting off a stationary tee is the ability to hit to both the left and right sides, again using targets. For instance, if it is an inside pitch work, the targets are placed to the left for a right-handed hitter. The targets are placed to the right for outside pitch work.
In addition, other important skills such as swinging through the ball, as well as hitting further back in the strike zone can be developed from regular tee work.
In conclusion, we have been able to provide some good reasons why we believe tee work is very important in softball. Having good equipment, including quality tees and the best softball bats, is important as well. The better your equipment, the more you will enjoy practicing – and the more success you’ll have in the game.
My name is David, I am an editor/co-founder of www.theplanetofbaseball.com. Being a software engineer by day and a baseball/softball blogger by night, I also participated in the training activities of a youth baseball team at my hometown. I have passion with baseball, it pertains to my life from childhood until now and I love to share what is related to that passion with others. I believe in the support of other baseball bloggers like me to spread the passion.
Batting tees are one of the most important tools a hitter can own. They’re great for working on swing mechanics, pitch locations and other techniques. They’re also great for getting in a few warm-up swings before the game.
There are all types of tees out there – all rubber, all plastic, a combination of the two. Lately, though, the most popular design has been a metal pipe-style with an inverted rubber cone on the top. You’ll typically find them in facilities with batting cages.
They’re not much to look at, and they often have a weight ring at the bottom of them to keep them from getting knocked over, but they get the job done.
The venerable Jugs Sports company is out to change all of that with their new professional style Jugs T. Retailing for $74.95, it improves on previous designs from other manufacturers in several ways, making it a great choice for facilities, coaches and individual hitters.
The first thing you’ll notice is how beautiful it looks. First-generation tee designs looked like they were built with steam fitting pipes and plywood from the local hardware store. The Jugs T appears to be made from highly polished aluminum with a solid metal base (more on the base in a minute). The bottom section is a deep, shiny blue, while the extension section is natural silver in color. You feel good just taking it out of the package.
It assembles in about 30 seconds – just screw the extension section into the base and you’re good to go. The rubber cone also feels thicker and more rigid than earlier tee models.
That comes in handy if you live up north like I do and leave the tee in the car during cold weather. With other tee designs if the cone is bent while it’s sitting in the trunk it takes a while before it holds a ball reliably.
Not the Jugs T. The thicker material bounces right back and is ready to go. I know – I tried it.
All of that is nice. But the real differentiator, in my opinion, is the base. It’s a solid metal plate instead of wood, and it is heavy – 10 lbs. according to the Jugs website. No need to put a 10 lb. barbell weight on this tee. In fact, the first couple of days I had it I kept handing it to people and telling them to feel the heft. It also has a pentagonal design that keeps it from going over the side if someone swings too low, and the entire base is coated in rubber so it won’t scuff gym floors.
Don’t worry about carting it around, however. The base also has a cutout that forms a convenient carrying handle. It’s easy to transport from cage to cage, or from the dugout to a practice area.
Another issue tees can sometimes develop is the inability to keep the ball at the desired height. You set the ball on it and the shaft starts to sink. So far that doesn’t seem like it will be a problem with this tee. It feels very solid when you raise and lower it, a good sign that it will continue to hold its ground even after repeated use. The adjustment range is a standard 23 inches to 46 inches – comparable to other tees I’ve used – making it ideal for your smallest players as well as your tallest ones.
Overall, like everything Jugs produces it’s a high-quality piece of equipment. If you’re looking for a professional style hitting tee that will stand up to tough use year after year, the Jugs T is a great choice.