Little League season is in full swing, weather permitting. A huge step in the evolution of many a young hitter is the jump from tee ball to a pitch league, whether coach or kid. The tendency for this level is to abandon the tee in order to place an exclusive focus on hitting a pitched ball. Seems reasonable, yes? In reality, what often happens is that a young batter is unprepared to hit a moving target and has some mechanical flaws that were masked by their previous success in tee ball.
For instance, if you see a tee-ball batter take his stance then straighten his arms to full extension and hold the barrel of the bat to the ball for several seconds or as a repeated measure before swinging, this is a warning sign that the swing is long, looping, sweeping and is destined for inconsistent success when attempting to hit a pitched ball. The swing must be shortened.
Also, if a tee-ball batter assumes his stance, then makes an exaggerated loading movement backward (toward the catcher) as if he’s hitting a golf shot as a part of initiating his swing, this is a warning sign that his swing will be late and ill-timed when attempting to hit a pitched ball. The load must occur before the swing, as a precursor, not as a part of the swing.
The tee is an incredible and valuable resource that is often derided as being “too easy” or “only for beginners.” However, it is perhaps the only way to uncover and overcome these, and other, technique flaws. Use the tee as a complement to the pitched ball. Keep both in your repertoire for maximum success and pity the fool who abandons the tee!