How to Choose a Baseball Bat
For baseball players, picking out a new baseball bat is a great way to spark excitement for the upcoming season. However, choosing the right baseball bat can be challenging with the different league regulations as well as the variety of drop weights and bat lengths. Before going to the store or browsing online, it’s important to have a good understanding of what to look for when choosing a baseball bat. From basic league regulations to how to measure for a baseball bat, read on to learn the basics of how to choose a baseball bat.
Common Bat Terminology
Just like in most sports, baseball has its own set of terminology. Understanding the terms will help you gain knowledge about the key differences between baseball bats and ultimately help you make a more informed decision. This way you can spend less time researching what baseball bats are made of and more time practicing your swing to build your confidence for the upcoming season.
Baseball Bat Materials
Alloy Bat: This type of bat is also known as a metal or aluminum bat. From a very basic level, an alloy bat is a mixture of two or more different metallic elements, for the purpose to give greater strength and resisting corrosion.
Composite Bat: This type of bat is a newer style of baseball bat made out of carbon fiber. Composite bats can have a greater range of properties because of manufacturers' ability to adjust the weight, stiffness, durability, and barrel profiles.
Hybrid Bat: As you might expect, a hybrid baseball bat is a combination of an alloy bat and a composite bat. The barrel of a hybrid bat is made out of alloy and finished with a composite handle.
Wood Bats: Made out of a single piece of birch, maple, or ash that is carved down to a single-piece bat. Bamboo bats are becoming increasingly popular to use during practice because of their increased durability yet don't create enough power for use during games.
Baseball Bat Construction
One-Piece Bat: Think of one-piece as the more traditional bat. The construction of one-piece bats has a barrel and handle that is created together all in one process. The majority of the time, one-piece baseball bats are going to be your alloy and wood bats. However, there are some one-piece composite baseball bats as well.
Two-Piece Bat: Two-piece bats are a newer iteration of the baseball bat where the barrel and handle are created separately and then joined after production. As stated above, a two-piece bat can have an alloy barrel, which is then finished with a composite handle. However, a two-piece bat can also be made out of a composite barrel and with a composite handle separately then combined afterward.
Baseball Bat League Regulations
Knowing your league’s rules and regulations is an important piece of information to know when shopping for a new baseball bat. With continuous changes and updates, you’ll want to make sure to talk with the coach or another league official to know exactly which baseball bat meets the league’s standards. There are three main bat certifications including BBCOR, USABat, and USSSA. In addition, very young players between the ages of four and six will most likely use a tee ball bat.
|BASEBALL BAT REGULATIONS|
|T-BALL||USA Baseball T-Ball Stamp|
|CAL RIPKEN 12 & UNDER||USA Baseball Stamp | 2 5/8" barrel maximum | NO BBCOR BATS|
|USSSA 13U||USSSA Baseball Stamp | length-to-weight ratio no lighter than (-8)|
|USSSA 14U||USSSA Baseball Stamp | length-to-weight ratio no lighter than (-5)|
|BABE RUTH 13-15||USA Baseball Stamp or BBCOR Certified w/ 2 5/8" barrel|
|BABE RUTH 16-18||All non-wood bats must be -3 BBCOR Certified|
|AMERICAN LEGION||All non-wood bats must be -3 BBCOR Certified|
|HIGH SCHOOL (NFHS)||All non-wood bats must be -3 BBCOR Certified|
|COLLEGIATE||All non-wood bats must be -3 BBCOR Certified|
Measuring for a Baseball Bat
Bat Weight & Drop Weight
Aside from knowing your league's regulations, you’ll also need to know which drop weight works best for you or your baseball player. The drop weight of a baseball bat is determined by the bat’s length minus the weight. For instance, if you’re looking at a 28-inch baseball bat that weighs 18-ounces, the drop would be -10. Drop weight is an easy way to know how light or heavy the baseball bat is.
Ultimately, finding the right bat drop comes down to the player’s body type such as their height and weight paired with their skill level. For players who are starting t-ball or participating in youth baseball leagues, they’ll most likely use a bat with a higher drop for better plate coverage and control of their swing. As players grow, build strength, and develop skills, the drop will decrease, meaning the player will use a heavier bat to help optimize their swing.
There are a couple of ways to test out which drop weight works best for you:
Multiple Swings: Try swinging the bat several times in a row. If your arms feel tired and the bat feels heavy, you’ll want to look at a different drop weight.
Extended Hold: Hold your baseball bat horizontally away from your body. If you can hold the bat for up to 45 seconds without feeling fatigued, this could be a good drop weight.
Most baseball bats are between 24 and 34 inches long from knob to end cap, making for plenty of different options to choose from. No matter what age the ballplayer is, a good place to start when sizing a baseball bat is with the player’s weight and height. Using the chart below will give you an idea of where to start when finding the proper length of a baseball bat. The key here is to find a baseball bat length that you believe you can consistently get squared up over the plate while still being able to produce bat speed. We will cover which type of bats are best for most age groups moving forward.
Baseball Bat Size Chart
When sizing a baseball bat, know that these charts are just a starting point. If you’re on the edge of two different bat lengths, it’s a good idea to swing both lengths to see which option feels the best. Having the proper bat length is crucial for developing and maintaining a good swing path and offering the right amount of plate coverage.
|PLAYER WEIGHT (lbs.)||PLAYER HEIGHT (in.)|
|< 41"||41-44"||45-48"||49-52"||53-56"||57-60"||61-64"||65-68"||69-72"||+ 73"|
|7 and under||24-26"|
|8 - 10||26-29"|
|11 - 12||30-31"|
|13 - 14||31-32"|
|15 - 17||32-33"|
Once you know the league's regulations, drop weight, and bat length, you’re ready to start shopping for a new baseball bat. Remember to use the bat’s length and drop weight as a starting point. It’s important your new baseball bat feels comfortable to optimize each swing. If you are also looking for a new baseball glove, you can take a look at our How to Choose a Baseball Glove or Best Baseball Gloves for 2022 articles. If you have questions on how to choose a baseball bat, stop into your local SCHEELS and talk with one of our baseball experts.