As many high school and youth league baseball players begin practicing for the beginning of the new season, there are some additional tips that any hitter can use to get the most out of the swings they take off of the batting tee. These tips are geared towards hitters ages 12-18, but younger hitters who are a bit advanced can apply some of these same principles.
1. Everytime you place the ball on the tee to hit, always place the ball so that the seams of the ball point in a straight line directly at the pitcher. This will give you a “two-seams” effect that you can use to better visualize how to attack the baseball on every swing. After placing the ball using the “two-seams” alignment, attempt to strike the baseball with the barrel of your bat directly through the seam closer to you as the hitter.
What this will accomplish is the reinforcement of staying “inside the baseball.” If the hitter is able to strike the inside seam of the ball with the fat part of the bat, the barrel will continue onward with a good path through the strike zone. The result will be line drives hit with authority – line drives that go back up the middle and towards the opposite gap. Note that the hitter shouldn’t try to miss the rest of the baseball, but instead just make first contact with the inside seam. In an ideal world, the end result will be a swing that actually strikes the ball fairly flush without much sidespin at all. The compensation to the inside half of the baseball reinforces this tough-to-master technique while producing a swing that at its best will produce rockets, and at its worst produce solid contact to the opposite field.
2. Another advanced technique to use with the batting tee is to move it back towards where the catcher would be, or “deeper” in the hitter’s stance for hitters who are having a tough time keeping a short, compact bat path to the baseball. The tee can be moved as far back as the middle of the hitter’s batting stance and still be useful for a hitter. Use this occasionally for a hitter who is extending his arms too early or “looping” the swing. Another no-no this can help treat is a hitter who dips his back shoulder when hitting.
With the tee deep in the hitter’s stance, have the hitter try to hit a hard, well struck low line drive or ground ball to the opposite field. If that is done, it will reinforce a short, direct path to the baseball. With the tee this deep, there will result more ground balls than would normally be good to see off the tee, but in this case it is okay. Make sure, however, that the hitter doesn’t “chop” to the ball or skim the top of the ball.Even worse, the hitter should never hit underneath the ball in this drill. If those types of results are present, have the hitter keep swinging at this deep tee drill until the hard line drive/ground balls are routinely produced.
As always, hitters should get the majority of their practice swings off the tee – it is best way to control all variables and allow the hitter to work on grooving his swing.