What I Know and Remember About Baseball - Tee for One

By: Mitchell Dowdy

The practice Tee. Golfers have no problem digging out dollars for buckets of rancid, scared and otherwise abused golf balls to place on a plastic Tee so they can hit away. Adults find immense pleasure watching their little ones adorn themselves in baseball uniforms and helmets to play T ball. So why is it that when baseball players reach a certain age that they (and some coaches) talk down the process of T work?

Lets look at the downside of the hitting a baseball off a Tee. The baseball player's purpose for T work is to 1- locate the sweet spot of their bat. 2- develop muscle memory for a level swing at various point in the strike zone. 3- more muscle memory for the stride that works best for them. 4- be able to break down the movements of the swing to make adjustments where needed 5- allow time to practice each portion of the swing before bringing it all together 6- confidence gained through familiarity of actually hitting the baseball. 7- ball flight gives you immediate confirmation of the baseball being well hit or miss hit.

Ooops, those are all good things.

Ok, the downside of hitting a baseball off a Tee. 1- your friends tease you (but your batting average is double theirs) 2- your coach equates Tee work to T Ball (you likely need a new coach) 3- you pocket half the money you would spend on batting cages ( may be able to afford an even better grade of glove then you had been hoping for) 4- Tee work can be done for hours on end (batting cage time is over went the money is gone). 5- you can't give yourself a black eye or take one in the gut working off a Tee

There I've done it again. Well, it seems I am just not the guy to talk down Tee work. Many people try to compare Tee work with batting practice. They really are separate activities. Baseball batting practice is the action of putting it all together and hitting the ball. Batting practice can be "live" as with soft toss, practice pitch or batting cages. Each has their own special place in making anyone a better hitter. But all these methods provide variation in the delivery. Pitching machines put it in a similar place more often, but there is still variation on every delivery. By diligent Tee work, you train yourself for all the basics and learn what works for you in various delivery conditions.

It's the repetition of Tee work that makes it so valuable. The more you swing and get positive reinforcement (actually hitting the ball) the better your whole program becomes. Batting cages have their place, but how many times have you, or even seen someone else, hit every pitch and drive it straight back at the machine? I've never done it myself and I have only seen two others hit every pitch and drive them relatively well.

Repetition is essential in any physical activity. From writing your name with a pencil, to drinking water from a glass. The more repetitions' you do, the quicker you will master the activity. Have you ever seen a really good rough carpenter set and slam a sinker. They don't even look. If you watch closely, they take a nail from the nail bag by feel, place it in the spot they want, one tap then slam! Its in. It looks easy and effortless. After 10 or 15 thousand nails, it actually is. Now the first 500 or so, that's a different story. Making a mess of the nail head and the board its going into along with taking 6 or so strikes then straightening out a few along way is more the norm.

So there you have it. Working off a Tee is just like drinking water, writing your name or framing walls. Baseball truly is an all encompassing pastime, isn't it.

Mitchell Dowdy
Copyright 2007 reprinted in whole with permission

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