Yesterday in the “Staged Soft Toss for Stride Development” drill we discussed how the stride and swing are two separate parts of the hitting process. This is an important thing to consider because it helps an athlete categorize and manage the workload of their mechanical development. Another great drill to aid a hitter in their efforts to gain comfort and develop their stride is the “Staged Tee Work” drill.
In this drill a hitter should set their tee location right down the pipe. Get into your comfortable, consistent and sound batting stance, then initiate your stride just as you would in a game, with your hand launching position directly over your back foot. Here, just after the stride, remember you should be in your most athletic position, like a predator ready to pounce on its prey. Finally, use those loose hands and quick hips for optimal torque and quickness.
Like a gymnast trying to stick their landing, don't forget to stay balanced throughout this entire process. Stay solid and comfortable before, during and after the swing . This lesson is very important because it pertains to comfort, balance, and movement - with a quiet, quick, and calm potential energy - that explodes on the ball. A hitter should avoid tension during every aspect of this staged tee work; however, at the launch position and during contact, the grip of the bat and tension in your legs may occur naturally.
This is a tremendous drill for athletes ages 9 years and older. In order to perform this drill, a hitter will need a tee, game bat, a bucket of balls and preferably, a net. For advanced hitters, this drill can be made more challenging by alternating the pitch location on the tee. Move the tee inside and out, the top of the strike zone and the bottom.
Always remember the stride and swing are two separate actions. With hard work and dedication a hitter will develop a natural stride that they can call their own. However, it’s important to practice the proper fundamentals. It’s counterproductive to put in all that work for something you’re going to have to work twice as hard to fix. Take the time to practice the correct mechanics with your own natural, comfortable stride.