Being able to visualize effectively at the plate is half the battle to a successful at-bat.The Chapel Hill High School softball team has found success in this area, and as a result have secured 5 straight regional championships and a state title in 2015. Five years ago, Chapel Hill coach Mickey Harper noticed some batting issues and decided to be proactive.
“The thing that made me start doing this drill was that our players were really trying to pull everything. I’d never really explained to this particular group of kids the importance of recognizing where the pitch is in the strike zone and how to hit it in the correct spot,” Harper said. ”You’ve got to be able to let an outside pitch travel and hit it to the opposite field. You’ve got to recognize an inside pitch to hit it quicker.”
That’s why he implemented the three tee drill and ever since, the results have spoken for themselves.
Here’s how it works:
Setup: 3 stations with a group of players at each station. (Chapel Hill has 6 kids at each station so that they can have 18 different players rotating in and out of the drill.)
Duration: 25-30 minutes (This allows for each player to get in 40-50 swings in a quick time period.)
- 3 tees. Set up 1 along the left side of home plate, 1 in the middle of the plate and 1 on the right of home plate. (The tees are set up as an inside pitch, a pitch down the middle, and an outside pitch.)
- 2 screens. 1 screen is placed in the field halfway between the plate and left field, and the other halfway between home plate and right field. (Have a player or coach standing on the outfield side of each screen, the fielders retrieving the hits in the field can throw the balls to a coach or player that is standing behind the screen.)
Strategy for left tee: Hitting the ball to the left side of the field. (This tee is setup to represent an inside pitch.)
Strategy for middle tee: Hitting the ball up the middle, between the shortstop and second baseman. (This tee is setup to represent a pitch right down the middle.)
Strategy for right tee: Focus on hitting the ball in the back of the zone, so that you can hit the ball to the right side of the field. (This tee is setup to represent an outside pitch.)
The drill also serves as an excellent form of cardio.
“It not only works on your timing but it’s also a pretty good conditioning drill because you’re taking 10 or 12 swings and you’re swapping and rotating to the next tee,” Harper said. “Everybody’s getting plenty of at-bats based on how many swings you do in a short period of time.”
In addition to cardio, the drill works the defense at the same time.
Have players that are not in the hitting rotation out in the outfield, working on fielding the balls and quickly throwing them into the player or coach behind the screens. “We normally back people out of the infield because it’s kind of a rapid fire and just utilize the outfield,” Harper said. “So we have a lot of defensive and offensive things going on at the same time.”
From GameChanger and Rolando Rosa
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