by Ray Demarini

Hello everybody! It's almost time to play! But more importantly, it is time to prepare! I like to remind everyone that fundamentals should be stressed, especially with my favorite subject . hitting! A great, great tool is my old favorite, the batting tee. Nothing like it. Nothing! You can buy a great tee for a low price, and it can give you so much. You can literally set it up with a safety net in the backyard or even in the garage. You can hit softballs or whiffle balls. You can go to a field in the off season, set up the tee at home plate, take a bunch of balls, and blast away at a variety of drills, not the least of which is going deep. Bombing balls out of the park off the tee may sound kind of hokey, but it is a blast. If you can't find anyone to hit with, you can go alone and totally amuse yourself while you're doing great things for your skill level. It sure enough beats sitting on the couch.

How do you use the tee to improve? Perform some or all of the suggested drills below. Practice them. Practice them often. Sincerely, you will be shocked at the improvement you will realize.

Drill - Position yourself so that you hit the ball off the tee directly up the middle. After 20 or so good shots up the middle, go to right for 20, then to left for 20. This will be invaluable training for bat control when it counts in the game.

Drill - Place the tee and ball in different spots within the strike zone. Practice hitting, for example, the low and inside corner strike, the high and outside strike, etc. etc. This drill is great for teaching the hitter what he can do with a ball in a particular location.

Drill - Get warmed up, then have one of your buddies video tape you hitting off the tee. You can then identify areas you need to work on via the video and set up a game plan to eliminate your weaknesses.

Drill - Work on technique. You can practice things like arm extension, follow through, acceleration, proper hip action and on and on. You get the point! Work on stuff! Try different things.

Drill - Radar gun work. If you should be lucky enough to have access to a radar gun, this is the ultimate fun. You set up your tee with a net and record your 'ball' miles per hour (off the bat). I do this at least twice per week. You get addicted because you set your record, in my case 95MPH. Then you try to beat it. You can become obsessed! I've tried every trick, technique, strength increases, anything, and I just can't get over 95. That is what is so fun about it. Imagine the thrill, after years of trying, if I do. Awesome!!

Do not sell this tee concept short! It can do amazing things for your swing if you practice correctly and use the tee to improve. I can tell you from my own experience, it works. I have had to overcome some physical problems and the tee has done the job . far more so than I could ever have hoped for. Now that I am outside facing live pitching again, I realize what a fabulous training tool the tee is when used correctly. Many people come to DeMarini to use our state of the art facility and try their luck at the radar gun game. It is way too much fun and I have NEVER seen anyone come there and not thoroughly enjoy themselves. How about some record MPH off the tee? All time best and the all time champ is Dwayne Nevitt. 106MPH. Twice in a row. Believe me, you cannot imagine how incredible that it. Major players range from 97-106MPH. Class D and E are around 75MPH. Everybody else is somewhere in between. Try it and have fun.

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Last Updated: 09/23/2003