Tee Ball is a game relatively new to many Australians where Cricket is “King” in summer sports. It is, however, a sport that is becoming more popular in schools because every player bats and fields. Hitting the ball off a tee is somewhat easier than hitting one bowled. Being able to hit the ball means the player gets more involved in the game and is more successful.
This article developed out of experienced gained in creating a league in the Western Suburbs of Brisbane with players and parents who had no experience of Baseball/Softball.
The very first decision to make is what size bat to use. The team coach should ensure the player has a bat smaller enough to be swung easily.
The next is the grip. Note these points:
• The hands should always be together with little or no gap between them.
• For a right hander, the left hand is on the bottom and the right hand on top. The reverse is true for a left hander.
• The bat is held vertically well back behind the player’s head
• The player must use his/her fingers not the palms to hold the bat.
Often players have difficulty controlling even the smallest bat. Here are some suggestions to help overcome this problem
1. Shorten the grip I. e. move the player’s hands up the bat towards the middle of the bat. Their hands must remain together.
2. Don’t let the batter have practice swings. (What happens is the bat gets lower and lower. So when they swing,they hit the tee).
3. Now let them line the ball up; bring the bat back as far as possible in an arc until the bat is vertical and then swing the bat down and flat through the ball.
The next issue is the stance. Here are some ideas on this.
1. Make sure the head and eyes are pointing down at the ball.
2. The feet should be apart (about shoulder width) with the body weight evenly distributed on both feet.
3. If the player steps to swing, it should be a short step only with the front foot. A large step will result in a swing under the ball at the rubber on the tee or the bottom of the ball pushing it up into the air for a simple catch.
4. The front foot should be placed just behind the tee* to allow the ball to be hit in front of the body. This allows the hips to open up giving more power.
5. Both feet should form a line parallel to the edge of the batter’s box.
6. A follow through is essential.
7. Make sure the player practises dropping rather than throwing the bat after contact with the ball. (Throwing the bat is often an automatic out).
8. Once the ball is hit, the batter must run immediately in a straight line just outside the line to first base. He/she must not watch the ball.
The swing of the bat is the next important issue. Here is what to emphasise to your players.
1. Before the swing begins, the bat should be held as far back behind the player’s as is comfortable.
2. Hands held together on the bat with the bat vertical.
3. The swing, on nearing the ball, must be horizontal (flat) and travel through the ball.
4. The eyes must be on the ball all through the swing
*At different times of the game, the coach will want the player to hit the ball to a specific area of the diamond to help the batter get on base or to progress the runner. There are two specific areas where the coach might want the player to hit the ball.
1. Hitting to the area between second and third base:
For right hander, the batter stands further back in the batter’s box than suggested above. This means the ball is hit late in the swing at an angle pushing the ball towards that side of the diamond. This will give the batter a better chance to reach first base.
2. Hitting to the area between first and second base:
For a right hander, the batter stands towards the front of the box, just ahead of the tee, so that the ball is hit earlier in the swing sending the ball towards that area. This will help advance runners on second and third base and perhaps a runner on first base if the ball is hit into a gap.
For a left hander, the reverse is true. The players need to practise these two techniques.
Finally, it is important to note some common errors players make batting. They are:
• Trying to hit too hard. This often means the bat does not make sweet contact with the ball as the player often overstrides hitting the ball low and skying it for a catch.
• The second is looking up to see where the ball is going before actually finishing the swing.
• Another is the tendency to begin running before finishing the swing in an effort to get on base.
What each of these scenarios do is to prevent good, firm contact with the ball. As in all ball games, it is important to remember and stress “The eyes have it”.