How To Buy A Baseball Bat
Whether you play Little League baseball or for a college team, buying a bat is a personal decision. New technology
has delivered bats that not only enhance performance but also are tailored to an individual player's strengths. It is
essential that you select a bat that fits your unique body configuration and skill level, height, weight, and hitting
Understanding Bat Materials
The world of bats now offers a large variety of choices in materials. These can be broken into three primary
categories: aluminum, graphite/titanium
lined, and wood. Each provides its own unique characteristics and advantages for today's
- Aluminum is lighter in weight which increases control and bat speed. Balls travel farther with aluminum over
- Despite generally higher costs than other materials, aluminum is durable and not prone to crack or break
- Aluminum bats come in a variety of
alloys each with a different weight
- Generally, lighter aluminum alloys are thinner and more durable. The one thing these have in common is that they
are all different combinations of Zinc, Copper, Magnesium and Aluminum. The following is a list of the different alloys
and their benefits.
7046: This is the standard aluminum alloy used in most bats
CU31/7050: More durable than 7046, due to increased levels of zirconium, magnesium, and
C405/7055: Increased Zirconium content than 7050, giving higher strength
C555: 7% stronger than C405, has traces of scandium, which increases strength
- Lighter weight bats also increase the "sweet spot," the hitting zone on the bat's barrel that
gives the maximum place to put metal to ball
- Aluminum bats, and those enhanced with other alloys, also come in single-layer or double-layer
- Double-layer bats offer more durability and power, since the ball rebounds off the bat with more authority
Cryogenically treated aluminum--Alloy is frozen and reheated to provide greater durability, less
vibration and 2-4% greater distance
- Technology has enabled bat makers to use lighter, stronger materials. Graphite and titanium are just two of
- Both are usually added to thinner-wall aluminum bats, enabling bats to be lighter and increasing a player's
- These materials also increase durability and the batter's sweet spot
- Graphite and titanium also help reduce vibration and the sting of ball shock, the tingling
feeling sent to the hands usually when you miss hitting the ball in the bat's sweet spot
- Wood bats offer a classic feel and sound
- Look for a grain that is long and wide, which indicates a tree's age and density
- Wood bats offer more choices in shape and taper that can be customized to a player's swing
- Wood has three big disadvantages:
- Bats crack and break
- Reduced sweet spots on the barrel
- Far less hitting power than metal bats
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Determine What Bat Fits Your Body
There are some standard rules of thumb in selecting the appropriate bat length. The charts below offer some
guidelines based on age and weight and height.
- Using your age as a guide, use the chart below to determine the bat length that fits your body
Determine Your Bat Length by Age
|5-7 years old||24"-26"
|8-9 years old||26"-28"
|10 years old||28"-29"
|11-12 years old||30"-31"
|13-14 years old||31"-32"
|15-16 years old||32"-33"
|17+ years old||34"
Height and weight
- These are usually better ways to determine what bat length may work best for you
Determine Your Bat Length by Weight and Height
| ||Your height (inches)
|Your weight (pounds)||36-40||41-44||45-48||49-52||53-56||57-60||61-64||65-68||69-72||73+
|less than 60||26"||27"||28"||29"||29"|| || || || ||
|61-70||27"||27"||28"||29"||30"||30"|| || || ||
|71-80|| ||28"||28"||29"||30"||30"||31"|| || ||
|81-90|| ||28"||29"||29"||30"||30"||31"||32"|| ||
|91-100|| ||28"||29"||30"||30"||31"||31"||32"|| ||
|101-110|| ||29"||29"||30"||30"||31"||31"||32"|| ||
|111-120|| ||29"||29"||30"||30"||31"||31"||32"|| ||
|141-150|| || ||30"||30"||31"||31"||32"||33"||33"||
|151-160|| || ||30"||31"||31"||32"||32"||33"||33"||33"
|161-170|| || || ||31"||31"||32"||32"||33"||33"||34"
|171-180|| || || || || ||32"||33"||33"||34"||34"
|180+|| || || || || || ||33"||33"||34"||34"
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Determining the Right Bat Weight
- Most bats are also weighted in ounces
- Manufacturers have done a great job in balancing the bat's weight to its length
- Many bats have a weight-to-length ratio, often shown as -4, -6, etc.
- This basically means a 34-inch bat with a -6 ratio weighs 28 ounces
- Selecting weight really depends on two critical factors--your strength and your hitting style
- It also depends a lot on your personal preference in weight and length, so the following are simply guidelines
- Bigger, stronger players generally prefer a heavier bat since they get the benefits of both the heft and swing
- Smaller players with less strength should consider a lighter bat to generate a quicker swing
- Younger players, too, should consider that a lighter bat increases control--great for singles hitters, while
also reducing the risk of injury
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Understanding Bat Technology
Bat technology may seem a little confusing but it's not rocket-science. There are three essential elements to a
bat: barrel size, bat taper and grip.
- This includes both the length of the barrel--top part of the bat--and its
- The longer the barrel, generally, the larger the sweet spot for hitting the ball
- As for diameter, the standard is 2 1/2, inches but many players prefer a smaller barrel that lightens weight
and provides more swing speed
- This is the diameter of the bat's handle
- Standard bats are tapered 31/32 of an inch but can be slightly larger or smaller depending on whether you want
a lighter or heavier bat
- You may prefer the feel of a bigger bat taper, which can also reduce the sting when a ball isn't struck on the
- Some players like a narrower taper for the lighter weight and to rotate their wrists faster when hitting.
- The grip is simply the covering that bat manufacturers use on the handle of aluminum bats
- Rubber grips absorb more of the shock
- Leather or synthetic leather gives a tackier feel for a surer grip
- Some bats come with a cushioned grip to decrease the shock even more
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Bat Performance Factor (BPF) and League Regulations
An effort by some of governing bodies in Baseball and Softball (NCAA, NHSF, USSSA, NSA) to regulate
the performance of a bat has lead to the establishment of a method of measuring how a ball jumps off of
a bat compared to how a ball rebounds off of a wall at a controlled speed.
The NCAA has implemented a new testing method to ensure all aluminum and composite bats perform like
their wood counterparts; it is called the Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) and includes the
ABI (Accelerated Break-In) test, which simulates performance after heavy use. Non-wood bats must comply
with this standard and display an official NCAA certification mark on the barrel in order to be legal for
regular- and post-season play. This standard is currently in effect and BESR is no longer used.
- The bats can have a diameter no larger than 2 5/8"
- The bats can be no lighter than 3 ounces less than the length (i.e. 32 in/29 oz)
The NFHS is also adopting the BBCOR standard, starting January 1, 2012. It is allowing
BESR-certified bats for the 2011 season, but composite-barreled bats are banned unless they pass both
BESR and ABI tests.
Ball Exit Speed Requirement (BESR) - required only for the 2011 season
- The bats can have an exit speed no higher than 97 MPH off the barrel of the bat. The bats must
have a "BESR" logo on the barrel of the bat, designating that the bat meets the Ball Exit Speed Requirement.
For a comprehensive list of NCAA BBCOR-approved, NFHS BESR-approved and NFHS-unapproved bats,
Non-wood bats used in divisions of play Little League (Majors) and below must be printed with a BPF
(bat performance factor) rating of 1.15 or less.
- BPF (Bat Performance Factor) is simply the increase in the liveliness of a ball hitting a bat compared
to throwing a ball against a solid wall (i.e., 20% faster rebound = a BPF of 1.20).
Only certain composite-barreled bats are approved for Little League use. Approval requires
the bats to meet the Ball Exit Speed Ratio (BESR) and the Accelerated Break-In (ABI) test. Bats
listed here are permitted
in Little League games.
The ASA's performance standard is referred to as a "high speed test." This method determines the
outgoing speed of a ball after an impact at 110 miles per hour and calls for an outgoing ball speed of
no greater than 98 mph. All bats need to pass this test in order to be used in ASA competition.
- Bats manufactured after passing this test will have an "ASA 2004" logo on the barrel.
- Those that pass the standard will be placed on the ASA 2004 legal bat list found on the
- Bats on this ASA list will be legal for play whether they have the 2004 logo or not.
- ASA umpires will have a copy of the ASA list and will use that list to determine if a bat is
legal for play or not.
15 Years and Older: All bats that are legal under NHFS rules are legal for USSSA-sanctioned games.
14 Years and Under: The 1.15 BPF standard will be continued unmodified through 2011,
with changes coming into effect in 2012. As of January 1, 2012, the only Big Barrel bats that will be
allowed in USSSA play must bear the updated 1.15 BPF mark. The same mark applies to Small Barrel bats. These
updated marks will allow easy identification of legal bats without requiring close scrutiny by USSSA
For softball, bats must bear a permanent marking indicating that it does not
exceed a 1.20 BPF rating.
Bats must also carry a permanent 1.20 BPF marking. For a complete list of NSA league-compliant bats,
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Returns and exchanges for opened or used bats are the responsibility of the manufacturer.
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