Once a Little Leaguer moves from tee-ball to pitching machine to live pitcher, hitting off the tee may seem elementary and perhaps beneath him. However, in youth baseball training, hitting off a tee can be an excellent drill, especially if a good batting coach is watching the mechanics.
Hitting off the tee, with a stationary ball that is located exactly in the strike zone, is a great way to increase muscle memory. Professional players hit hundreds of balls off the tee to improve their batting. However, it is very important that the batter’s mechanics are correct. Hitting off the tee with poor mechanics will lead to mentally ingraining bad habits which will lead to poor performance in the long run.
A batting tee may be set at different heights, and its location can be moved slightly. Varying the height and location of the tee helps batters practice hitting different types of pitches. Muscle memory is the goal here; the mechanics of hitting different locations and types of pitches should be second nature. That way in a game, the batter can focus on gauging the pitch; how to hit it will come naturally.
The following movements should be reviewed and analyzed by a batting coach while a batter is hitting off the tee, to ensure good form:
- hip movement
- bat position
- head movement
- leaning position
- stance, and feet movement while batting
The batter should practice his movements in slow motion while the coach watches. This way the coach can spot and easily correct improper mechanics. Once an adjustment has been made, the batter should practice the movement over and over until it is second nature.
Parents can help their kids with this as well. There are many videos on the internet that show proper batting mechanics. Review these together and have the player mimic these movements while hitting off the tee.
Hitting off the tee takes away the pitching variable. This allows batters to practice their hitting skills repeatedly without having to second-guess a pitcher or a helpful parent’s pitching abilities!
In order to be the best baseball player you can be, training should happen year-round and be a joint effort between the coach, the player and the parents.