What size baseball bat should my player use?
For new and even experienced baseball parents and coaches, figuring out what bat a player should use can be an intimidating process. With a wide variety of materials, manufacturers, sizes, and other variables, figuring out the best bat for player is not always easy.
The ultimate answer to the bat to get for a player is the one he or she swings well and with confidence. There are several ways to figure this out, through retail locations that allow customers to try bats, to borrowing teammates' bats, to working with bat representatives and distributors for bat manufacturers to identify a good option. Some companies even have flexible demo options that allow shoppers to try bats out for a period of time and either return or purchase them.
To help provide some guidance, we've put together the following chart with general ideas to narrow down the process in figuring out the right size bat for your player:
The concept behind this is to prepare players for levels of play where the maximum length-to-weight ratio is -3.
The age group or grade at which players must follow this rule will vary based on playing organization, but typically by 14U at the latest, players must adhere to this standard. In some areas, the rule takes effect in 7th grade for middle school teams, which can be the 12U year for players depending on their birthday.
In summary, beginning with 11U or 12U, players with an eye toward playing in high school and beyond should prepare for the bat rules at those levels.
- 7U and 8U players should be progressing towards -10 bats.
- 9U and 10U players should continue in -10 with an eye towards -8.
- 11U and 12U players should progress from -10 to -5.
- 13U players should be preparing for -3 competition.
Players develop physically at different phases so it's not an exact science to say a player of a certain weight and weight should use a bat of an exact length and weight. Players with an interest in progressing from the youth levels to full size fields and rules should prepare accordingly with appropriate bats to meet the challenges that come with progression in the sport of baseball.
- Wood bats: Using wood bats in practice can be a good way to get used to heavier materials and the performance characteristics of -3 bats.
- Bat materials: Most bats in youth leagues are either composite or alloy. The preference of the player is a personal choice. The only nugget we'll throw out there is that in colder weather, composite materials may not perform well and could be susceptible to breakage.
- Bat weight: The actual weight of a bat may vary from it's labeled weight. For instance, a bat that is labeled as 20 ounces could actually be 19 or 22 ounces. Additionally, 2 bats with the same dimensions (length, weight, diameter) may feel different to a hitter depending on whether they are balanced or end-loaded.
- Durability: Any bat can break on any swing. In practice, it can be a good idea to use an older bat or practice bat to avoid potential wear and tear or damage to a primary bat. These practice bats can be good to use with training materials like heavy balls as well. Make sure to keep track of your receipt in case a bat becomes damaged and to facilitate potential warranty claims with bat manufacturers.
- Bat Digest (justbatreviews.com) has a library of reviews for bats to gain information
- Travel Baseball Bats Facebook Group is a good resource to get insights on bat performance and recommendations
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