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Anyone think doing a swing analysis with soft toss or off a tee is not a great prediction of live BP?

I know it's a great place to start but I see so many people do one thing in soft toss or off the tee then when you throw live they do something completely different.  Thoughts?

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There is no doubt that many players will do something different with their swing in live pitch over soft toss or tee work. All avenues have their place. Analyzing a soft toss or tee swing with film is best for off season work. Swing mechanics are a learned habit. To build muscle memory for a proper swing one must use the proper mechanics. I start off season with a swing analysis for tee, soft toss, and live pitch. Once I make a determination about the swings inconsistencies I will work those out in tee work or soft toss. It's all a progression. We start with the tee and examining the footwork, how the player opens his/her hips, what they are doing with the hands and shoulders etc. Once the tee work looks consistent I then move to analyzing soft toss. It is extremely important that the swing mechanics be the same as the tee work. Once we have accomplished that we move to analyzing the live pitch. When the progression is done right you will see the mechanics you are looking for during live pitch BP and game time at-bats. To ensure a players swing mechanics are solid in live BP or game AB's proper reps are required and many reps are needed. We use Tee, soft toss and live pitch BP to create muscle memory habits that will work. Along the way I need to see them on film as often as I can to determine if we are on the right track. 

I love love love tee work for ALL hitters. I don't care what your level of play is. BUT, you will run into THAT player that looks great on the tee but looks terrible in BP and on the flipside look terrible on the tee but great in BP. When I say great i mean he's getting the job done. But what a good set of eyes will see are the flaws that make each of these happen and then as a coach you have to try and help the player make the adjustments. The biggest problem I see with any of the 3 is that most do it in quantity and not quality. I'd rather see a kid take 5 swings off a tee 5 swings soft toss and 5 swings dead arm quality over 100 quantity just to get loose or swing any day.

Although I agree with your quality over quantity statement Kip, I would almost guarantee that a good set of eyes cannot see the flaws in a baseball, or fastpitch swing at full swing on a tee and most assuredly sitting or standing out front when you soft toss and even less when pitching live BP.. The motion, or action is entirely too fast to see what is wrong. I suppose there is always the one in a million set of eyes that is like a camera, but that is rare. You may think you know what you are seeing, but you are probably guessing, all be it educated guess off of ball flight, but there are times when a player gets a good hit and his technique was terrible and unfortunately, teaching off of this method leads to slower and often inconsistent results.  Especially at higher levels of pitching/play.

Thanks for the input. I never go by what the ball does off the bat because I know very well that a bad swing can produce a good line drive although not very often. And I do use video but probably as much as some because I look for 4 swing factors and only one at a time . Like I said before, I start with the feet and work my way up. My lessons start with about 10-15 dead arm throws to the hitter to see if there is anything we definitely need to work on. Then we do about 30 minutes of tee work with the ball starting on the outside and work our way inside. After tee work we do about 10-15 minutes of front toss and half of that is done in 2 pieces. Stride to the heel, check that he's standing as athletic as possible, then throw the ball and drive the back hip to the ball and keep the hands back. Then the second half of front toss is swinging uninterrupted. After front toss we do the same with dead arm BP. In between all of this we track about 10 pitches or so. I might not be doing things the way others do, I don't know because I've never seen a private instructor give a lesson, but I do know that what I do the coaches at the highest level do is very similar. I'm sure there are many many ways to teach hitting but I'll stick with what I've been doing for a long time because my kids can hit after awhile. Btw, we also do a lot of pitch recognition and hit your pitch but that comes after the swing gets a lot better. Also, a lot of times I will mock throws so the hitter puts a good swing on the fake ball instead of swinging because it's a strike.

Great discussion

Let's say the progression from tee, to soft toss to live BP looks great. Mechanics are solid, they are maikng hard contact back up the middle, they are not swining at bad pitches, etc.  However when it comes to game time it does not translate. Ho do you make sure practice makes it to game time?


Quite often if all looks good in practice(including timing on live bp), the ingredient missing at game time is mental. There are plenty of players at all levels that will revert to their dominant response under the pressure of the game. Those player can be helped by guiding them through a better mental routine for game preparation and execution. A lot of it is poor self-talk. For all sports when a young person is exhibiting great practice play but poor game play it is a mental and emotional issue not a physical one. It can be fear of failure, perfectionism, lack of confidence. It is part of every coaches job to try and help the player understand the mental part of the equation and make adjustments the same way we are all making physical(mechanical) adjustments with our players.

I agree with Mike, it's mental approach. But how do you build them up mentally during practice? One method I use is training under the same pressure that you have in a game so the game time adrenaline doesn't get in the way of what they have been taught in practice. We frequently set up mini games. Instead of having one kid take 10 soft toss pitches and then stepping out, we put kids in groups to compete against each other. Each kid in the group might get 10 soft toss pitches on the outside part of the plate. The player who hits the most line drives to the opposite field is the winner. Keep track of who wins the most stations during that practice and they get the prize. The kids are now learning fundamentals and muscle memory in a competitive situation similar to what they will experience during a game. It helps build the confidence to complete, teaches them to learn from failure and more importantly how to deal with failure.

Why not use live pitchers for your batting practice? Instead of having the pitchers throw on the side, have them throw live.


when I use soft toss I make sure the player doesn't begin his swing until the ball reaches it's apex. I throw the balls in all areas and what I believe this accomplishes is it makes sure the hitter uses his lower half to start the swing and also makes sure the hitter stays inside the ball. I've always felt that a hitter has a much easier time adjusting if he's late then if he's early. Note, that I don't mean late with the front foot but late getting through the ball or getting jammed. Does that make sense? LOL

Great answers. Tee work is the only place where you can make a "PERFECT" swing. The ball is in a static postition where you want it. Once the ball starts moving there are variables introduced location, speed, timing. Due to these variables you have to make adjustments to the "PERFECT" swing. I believe that the closer you can get the tee work to perfect the closer you will be to a good swing when you introduce the variables. I am also aware that some players are really good at one training method and very bad at others so tee work may be a waste for some players.


Listen to Steve Springer's CD and the answers are there. Successful hitting is more mental than physical.

Tee work is essential at all levels.  Many hitters just hit ball after ball off of a tee; but are not aware that they can evaluate their swing by looking at the path and direction of the ball.  If you hit off the tee consistently, you will probably take that swing to the plate.  Yes you may stride more at the plate, or over load and get out of balance or your weight shift may be exaggerated at the plate but that can be adjusted by a good coach.  Pitch location impacts the swing at the plate.  Soft toss is a great way to warm up but I don't think it is a great drill to teach the swing.  I favor front toss rather than soft toss.  Hitting into a heavy bag is another way to change up from hitting on a tee.  I strongly believe ever hitting lesson should start with the tee, move to front toss and end with live pitching in the cage.  Regardless of the drills, the coach is looking for the strenghts of the hitter and the areas that the hitter needs to improve.  Have a goal at each lesson; work on a specific fundamental; encourage feed back from the student and don't let the student swing unless he is putting his best effort and swing on the ball.  Don't go through the motions thinking the various drills will help the hitter improve his/her hitting.


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