Batting tee drills ... that doesn't involve hitting!
by Bob McCreary
The batting tee is my pick for the World's Greatest Baseball Training Invention Award.
...and not just for hitting! Here are some other uses:
Shortstop - Across the Bag Drill:
A common mistake for shortstops is unnecessarily catching a double play ball directly over the bag. To target this, a batting tee can come in handy. Place the tee with a ball on it about 1 - 3 feet on the second base side of the bag. Using just bare hands, have the shortstop approach the bag as normal, cross over the bag to pick the ball off the tee, and continue to throw to first base. This develops the habit of cacthing the ball on the second base side as described in the linked post above. Move the tee around and raise/lower the ball to mimic all types of feed locations. Doing so allows the shortstop to practice making quick adjustments on bad feeds.
Long-arm Pitching Drill:
This drill helps pitchers who short-arm the ball a bit too much. This drill works best when pitchers start in the stretch position. Put a ball on a tee that is placed directly behind the pitching rubber. The height of the ball should be the height of the pitcher's hand when hanging straight down next to the leg. The pitcher comes set, lifts his leg, and separates his hands as normal. The throwing hand extends down, picks up the ball off the tee, and then continues with the throwing process from there. This helps the pitcher develop the feel of lengthening his arm to get the most out of it. This stretch/throwing motion cannot really be done at full speed since the pitcher has to be looking at the ball to pick it off the tee.
Sometimes a pitcher does not have the luxury of throwing to a catcher and must throw into some kind of net or wall. If that's the case, put a ball on a tee, place the tee in the location you want to work on - low and away, up and in, etc., and try to hit the ball off with your pitch (hitting the tee doesn't count!). This helps a pitcher learn to focus on a smaller target for better accuracy.
Feed Footwork Drill:
Some middle infielders struggle with the footwork associated with fielding a ball and starting a double play feed to second base. To help, place a ball on a tee somewhere in front of the fielder. Using just his bare hands, have the fielder get set and charge as if the ball is a ground ball. The fielder sets his feet, picks the ball off the tee and throws to second. This drill eliminates the ground ball part and allows the fielder to focus entirely on the footwork and throw. Move the tee around and raise/lower the tee to work on multiple types of ground balls.
Catching Lane Drill:
A common mistake of catchers is drifting into the right or left batter's box when they come up to throw to second base on a steal attempt. When throwing to second base, a catcher should stay in his lane - the area in direct line between him and second base - so as to not have the batter be in the way of the throw. If this is a problem, place a tee with or without a ball on top in whichever batter's box the catcher is drifting into. The closer to home plate the better. If the catcher contacts the tee and/or knocks the ball off in the process of throwing, he knows he drifted too far and needs to stay in his lane more. Even better, use two tees and place one in each box close to the plate. This clearly shows the catcher where his lane should be - between the tees. Of course, real batters could be used as well but there isn't always someone around to help. Note: This drill can be adjusted to teach the proper lane when throwing to third base as well.
Base Running Lane Drill:
If a base runner needs to improve their running lanes, angles, or loops around the bases, use a tee or multiple tees. Place them in the base paths to teach players where they should or should not be running. If balls are placed on the tees, runners can even grab the balls as they run by. This drill is normally for little kids still learning basic base running but also is good for older players who are more visual learners.
Of course, the best thing about tee drills is that the player can do all of them by himself if necessary!
Have any batting tee (non-hitting) drills of your own? Send them to: