How to Choose Baseball Bats - Baseball Equipment
Choosing Baseball Bats
There are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration when choosing a baseball bat. Cost, comfort, size of the batter and level of play are all key elements in choosing the right bat.
Aluminum or composite bats are usually preferred over wooden bats because they are stronger and lighter weight. (Note: pro baseball players are only allowed to use wood bats). A lighter bat is generally preferred over a heavier bat because it allows the hitter to generate enough speed to get some power into their hit. Aluminum bats also give the ball more “pop” off the bat and are usually much more durable than a wooden bat.
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Baseball bats are becoming extremely high tech and expensive and it’s not unusual to see a youth bat in the $200+ price range.
The most important factor in choosing the right baseball bat is its comfort for the hitter. The more comfortable the bat feels for the hitter, the better. Pick up the bat, take a few swings and imagine yourself in a game. How does it feel? When helping a younger player choose a bat, be sure they can swing it with no trouble. If they’re struggling to swing the bat, it’s too big for them.
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Size of Bat (Length and Weight)
Another important consideration when choosing a bat is the height of the player. Generally, taller batters will need a longer bat. The tables below show the general guidelines to consider when choosing the length of your baseball bat.
Choosing The Right Size Bat
Guidelines for Baseball Bat Lengths
Regulations and Level
When choosing a baseball bat, you need to always consider the level of play. Whether you’re in Little League, or Major League, each level has regulations regarding allowable bat sizes and materials.
A baseball bat is measured using its length to weight ratio, this will result in a negative number representing the bat weight in ounces compared to its length in inches. For example, a bat 32 inches long and weighing 28 ounces would be a -4, representing the difference between the two numbers. This is often referred to as the weight drop of the bat. The largest ratio or weight drop in little league is about -12, while college and high school restrict this ratio to -3. The restrictions are for safety – a high school or college player swinging an extremely light bat (for them), would pack too much power and pose a physical danger to other players on the field. Always check your league regulations before buying a new baseball bat!
It is recommended that you buy the heaviest bat your child can swing with speed, while staying within league regulations. This may take some experimenting to determine which bat size is appropriate.
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Types of Baseball Bats:
Tee-Ball Bat – These bats are generally used in tee-ball and/or coach pitch leagues with children approximately 5 to 7 years of age. The barrel of the bat is 2-1/4” in diameter and the length ranges from 25” to 27”.
Little League Bats - Little league bats are used in various leagues including Little League, Babe Ruth, Dixie, PONY, Dixie Youth, and AABC. These bats are appropriate for kids approximately 7 to 12 years old. The barrel of the bat is 2-1/4” in diameter with lengths ranging from 28” to 32”.
Senior League Bats – Senior League bats are for older kids, approximately 10 to 13 years of age. They are often used in travel and tournament leagues. The bat barrel can vary from 2-5/8” (high school regulation), to 2-3/4” (Big Barrel). Lengths of Senior League bats range from 28” to 32”.
High School and College Bats – These bats are recommended for ages 13 and up. They are used mostly in High School and College leagues and have a barrel that is 2-5/8” in diameter. Lengths can range from 30” to 34” and most leagues will require a BESR (Bat Exit Speed Rating) approved stamp.
What’s the deal with Composite Bats?
- Composite baseball bats are stronger and lighter than even the high-grade aluminum bats. They are made either of a graphite-fiber composite, or an aluminum core with a graphite lining. They’re becoming extremely popular and will undoubtedly be dominating the batting industry in the future.
- Composite bats tend to take much longer to break-in than aluminum bats and hitting jugs balls at the batting cages won’t help. If you do plan on using the cages to break in your new bat, you need to be sure real baseballs are used. It’s going to take 100 to 150 correctly hit baseballs to break in your new bat. At first, it will sound like you’re hitting with a wooden bat, but in time and with proper care and breaking in, that sound will begin to sound more like a rifle shot. That’s when you’ll realize you’re not just swinging a hunk of metal anymore.
- Composite bats are not designed to be used in cold weather; temperatures below 70 degrees can cause them to break easily.
- Composite bats are NOT cheap. They can be expensive, but if broken in and used correctly, they will give you much more than the aluminum or hybrid bats of the past.
- Composite bats have a lot more forgiveness when it comes to the imperfect swing. They’re capable of making an average hitter a clean-up hitter.
- Composite bats are here for the long haul, so get to know them, love them and live with them – you’ll be glad you did.
Baseball Gloves and What You Need to Know
Be sure to see our article Choosing Baseball Gloves - Baseball Equipment for help with understanding baseball gloves and the things you need to know before purchasing one.