While a hitter’s job might be deemed “flashy,” the path to becoming one of the best in the trade is anything but. If you are building yourself up from zero, you would not be playing against a live pitcher or an automatic pitching machine. Instead, most of your time will be spent hitting off a batting tee.
In fact, even if you are playing on the professional level, a batting tee will never outlive its usefulness. As an ex-pro and a little league coach, I often have my batters run their drills using a batting tee. And though some might say that I should switch to a pitching machine, I respectfully disagree.
Don’t get me wrong – I love a good pitching machine, but it’s just not the same.
So, when you’re honing your fundamentals with a batting tee, the height has to be adjusted according to your training goals. For instance, if you’re practicing to counter the sinker pitch, you’d need to set the tee to the lowest point – around 16-23 inches. There’s no telling how high a batting tee *should * be. The closest answer is – it depends on the type of drills you’re looking to get done.
Besides, a batting tee lets me isolate the hitter’s weaknesses and focus on minute details since he is not on a timer to hit the ball. This opportunity to focus on the smallest segments of the hitting motion is irreplaceable for perfectionists like me who want a strong foundation. No matter what hitting drill you practice – I will give you a clear guideline on properly setting up the height of your batting tee to help you get the full benefit of using one in your hitting practice.
How Tall is a Batting Tee?
The first question that most people, at least those who still haven’t really used a batting tee all that much, ask is how tall is a typical batting tee. Well, the answer is simple – as long as you want it to be. Usually, it’s anywhere between 20 to 50 inches, depending on the make and model.
Most batting tees in the market come with height adjustment options to help you set the height that suits your specific situation. One of my favorites, the Tanner Original Batting tee, for instance, lets you change the height anywhere between 26 to 43 inches. This means, if you are working with a youth player, you can set the height of the batting tee to its lowest level. And on the other hand, for teenagers or adults, you can set it higher so that it is easier for the player to hit it.
In most cases, the control is in your hands. That’s one of the many reasons why it’s not a bad practice to hit off a batting tee. In fact, it’s really helpful. If you are on a budget and had to go with a cheap option on the market, this might not be the case. Some of the low-end options on the market that cost only a couple of bucks have a static height.
But this again begs the question; is going with a cheapo batting tee worth it?
You know what? I would have still suggested buying a fixed height, cheap batting tee if that was the only issue here. Sadly, the abysmal build quality that most of these tees come with really makes them a bad investment. The top of the tee usually suffers the most and breaks down after a couple of hits when you are going with a cheap alternative.
In addition, the base of these tees is typically not heavy and causes the tee to move out of position or simply topple over between each hit.
That is why I always recommend that you go with a top-rated batting tee with a sturdy base, flexible height adjustment option, and quality top, even if it costs you a few extra moolahs. Besides, it won’t die out after a couple of months of training – so you save money in the long run.
What Height to Set a Batting Tee?
Quick answer- above the belt level. However, the height should be adjusted according to the swing you’re practicing. Whether you need to tone up your inside, middle, or outside swing, the height must correspond with the drill.
The perfect height to set the batting tee depends on the hitter. What are you trying to achieve? Do you want to work on the stance? Or do you want to work on high or low swings? These are the questions you want to be answered before setting the height of the batting tee.
If you are working with an absolute beginner, and your goal is to go over the basics of hitting, you want to make sure that the tee is no higher than the belt of the hitter. In most situations, starting with a straight, middle swing is the best approach.
But if your hitter is a bit more advanced and you want to work on middle, high or low swings, you need to adjust the height accordingly. Try to picture the strike zone and set up the height to simulate different points in the strike zone. You can also move the hitter around to get different swing positions.
Long story short – you can make changes based on the type of drill. Let’s say you want your hitter to double-down on their square-ups. Set the tee height either across their hip or higher. Plan – Adjust – Change – Train. Simple! Another thing to remember here is to position the tee properly on the plate. Most beginners make the mistake of placing the tee in the middle of the plate.
The right way to use the tee is to position it slightly in front so that the ball is perched in alignment with the front part of the plate. That is the point where you want the hitter to connect with the ball.
If you are using a decent batting tee, adjusting the height should be pretty hassle-free. So, you can quickly switch the height of the tee in between each swing to switch up the hitting position. This would also let you get a bit more versatility out of the batting tee.
Pulling the Curtains Down
I could go on for days about why I love my standard batting tee and how I believe that it helps you become a better hitter by letting you work on the basics. But the truth is not everyone can use it to its fullest extent. The trick to getting the best out of it is to set it up properly. And that includes setting up the height perfectly.
Without setting the height properly with respect to the hitter, you will be instilling a lot of bad habits. In the end, it will do more harm than good, and you will blame the tee instead of poor positioning. But I can’t just sit idly by and let that happen, can I?
That is why I tried to make things as clear as I could so that you will be able to set up the height perfectly, whether you are using it yourself or helping a hitter learn the ropes. The rest I leave in your capable hands. Good luck!