T ball is Not Just for Young Kids – Hitting Drills that Guarantee Success

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T Ball is for players of all ages

One of my most used statements to hitting students is, “If you cannot hit consistent line drives when the ball is sitting on a tee, how do you expect to hit a pitched ball consistently well.” There is a misconception that a batting tee is just for little kids. Of course, young kids play t ball games, but batting tee use is necessary for hitters of all ages.  Allow me to repeat, t ball is not only for young aged players but for pony league, high school, college and professional baseball players, too. Ask any pro player of former professional for proof of this.

Tee-ball: practice

Image by jbrownell via Flickr

 

 

 T ball Hitting Drills for Kids

Of course, youth baseball coaches have the responsibility of impressing upon their players the importance of using a batting tee to improve their swings. A baseball-batting tee is the best hitting aid there is because it allows hitters to see the actual flight and spin of the balls when hit, when most other hitting aids do not allow this. Of course, the reasons kids do not want to use it are twofold. One, most players do not know how to use it correctly for correct swing analysis and two, they do not know a variety of hitting drills to avoid the boredom of hitting the ball off a tee. With that in mind, following are ways to use a batting tee correctly and drills that helps avoid boredom of t ball use.

Methods of using t ball correctly for correct analysis of swing

Hitters should:

1. Set batting tee as far from backstop target as possible.  Often, it is set very close to the screen or net so they do not have to go far to pick up balls, but this can inhibit a good analysis of the ball flight and swing correctness.

2. Stand the same distance from the tee base as they stand from a regular home plate, as in a game, to make the t ball use realistic.

3. Set the tee correctly in relationship to the hitter and home plate, depending on which pitch location the hitter is working on – out front of hitter towards the pitcher is always necessary, with justa few inches in front on outside pitches and progressively further out as the ball is moved to the inner half of home.

4. Hit knee-high pitches, set in the middle of the plate, through the middle and on a line – this gives a great analysis of the swing, making sure the hitter’s hands and hips square up at contact. When hips and hands square correctly, up the middle hit balls are the result.

Hitting drills

Hitting knee high pitches back through the middle

 

5. Hit chest high pitches on the tee, without popping up, to promote a compact swing without upper cutting.

High tee hitting drill

Avoiding a long swing on high pitches – high tee drill

 

6. Hit line drives or long flies that have backspin – this is the goal on all pitch locations. Greater swing analysis is done when working on knee high and chest high pitches than tee locations set at waist or thigh high.

7. Move tee locations (inside, outside, high, low) to practice pitches of different locations, with more emphasis on low pitches for hitters who hit a lot of ground balls and high pitches for hitters who hit a lot of pop ups.

Once hitters have worked on the basics of the baseball swing with the previous methods, they can move to the following drills to refine the swing and avoid any boredom.

 

Advanced T Ball Hitting Drills Hitters should:

1. Place the tee behind them and waist-high – this will correct an upper-cutting or long swing. This drill works for live batting practice, flipped or dropped balls hitting. This drill does not guarantee the correct swing but, often, hitters have to exagerate an action to create a new opposite habit – in this case to prevent a huge upper cut swing. 

t ball

T drill to fix the uppercut swing

2. Place the tee just off the outside corner – hitters swing and miss the tee to avoid casting the bat. This promotes the correct “inside the ball” swing.

t ball

Hitting problem – casting the bat

3. Set the tee an exaggerated distance in front of home and have hitter swing and hit the ball into fair territory without lunging to help hitters work on swing extension.

T Ball Hitting Drills with Two Batting Tees:Hitters should:

1. Set one on the inside corner (out front) and one on the outside corner (back towards hitter) and alternate hitting a ball on each tee. This helps hitters learn to understand where contact is on different pitch locations and how to hit the ball to all fields.

 

t ball

Inside outside drill for understanding contact points

2. Set balls on both tees that are about a foot apart and both in line with the pitcher – hitting both balls in fair territory is the goal. This drill is great for developing swing extension, keeping front shoulder and head in on the ball, and for opening of hips .

T ball drill

Two balls in line for swing extension drill

3. Set a ball on both with the ball closest to the pitcher about a balls width higher on the tee. Hitters should miss the back ball and hit line drives on the front ball to develop a compact swing, thereby eliminating any loop in the swing.

t ball drill

Low high drill to create a direct swing

Finally, I am constantly encouraging youth baseball coaches of all age players to occasionally play t ball games, even high school age players, to encourage the use of a batting tee. These t ball games move along very quickly and help kids learn that hitting a ball solidly off the tee still requires a good swing and placement to get hits. There is no bunting in these games, of course.

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