Hitting Drill of the Year Teaches Hitting the Outside Pitch
When players or parents ask what players can do at home for hitting practice, or when little practice time is available, this is often the drill I recommend. Two batting tees are necessary.
It takes a great swing and timing to hit the outside pitch to the opposite field with authority. Learning to stay inside of the ball is crucial for long term hitting success. Looking back at my major league days, I recall, that when I was hitting the outer half pitch well, the higher my confidence was and the better my swing was for all pitch locations. This hitting drill helps develop a compact, fundamentally sound swing on the most common of pitches, the outer half one and as implied, once batters can handle the outside pitch, hitting all other pitch locations is easier and often a matter of timing, as the swing will be correct.
How to do the Hitting Drill of the Year
For this hitting drill, the top ball sits on the outside corner at the letters. A lower ball is set about a bat barrels distance below and a little closer to the batter than the top ball, with enough room to get to the inside back of the ball for a line drive. It is necessary that the top ball is out front of the batter after the stride, but just slightly, as making contact deep in the zone on this pitch is good. The goal is to hit balls to the opposite field with authority, without hitting the lower ball.
This two-tee drill develops a great swing and solves many hitting problems, as it forces batters to keep their hands up, keep their eyes on the ball, keep their front side from flying open, and keep their wrists from rolling early. Most importantly, it teaches the important concepts of plate coverage and staying inside the ball, with palm up palm down contact, as the hips open. Any drill that teaches that many hitting fundamentals deserves hitting drill of the year status and performing this drill correctly develops the same aggressive attack as it takes to drive the low pitch on the line through the middle of the field without rolling the wrists prematurely.
Incorrect swings, as seen here, will show up with this drill and in games in two ways. Batters will either reach without opening their hips correctly and pull the ball weakly or they will hit both balls by trying to guide the ball the other way by dropping the bat barrel, which leads to swings and misses or lazy popped up balls with pitched balls.
Practicing batting outside pitches the other way on one tee works, but swing changes and better understanding of swing mechanics come with this two-ball setup. Of course, the goal of all swings is to hit line drives with backspin, but I accept any hard hit ball the other way with this drill, as staying on top and hitting this ball the other way is a sign of a good swing on an outside corner pitch.
Once players are proficient at this pitch location, they can do the same with lower pitches on the outside half of the plate, before moving to straight on flips and batting practice. In no time, coaches will see improved swings with better plate coverage. Finally, no player makes a living on pitches on the corners of the plate, but they develop better swings by working on the toughest pitches on batting tees, so coaches should remember to set batting tees at the corners or top and bottom of the strike zone for the best swing feedback.