How to Choose a Baseball Bat


Baseball player about to use his new 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 about 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. 

Baseball Bat League Regulations

The top baseball bats for the year








Knowing your league’s rules and regulations is one of the first pieces of information that’s incredibly important 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. 

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
Bat Length
What is the length of a baseball bat? Length measured from knob to end cap.

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 ball player, 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 baseball bat.

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 important in order to make solid contact with the ball and offer 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"
> 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"29"32"

91-100

28"29"30"30"31"29"32"

101-110

29"29"30"30"31"29"32"

111-120

29"29"30"30"31"29"32"

121-130

29"30"30"31"31"29"32"32"
131-140


30"30"31"31"33"33"33"
141-150


30"30"31"31"33"33"33"
151-160


30"31"31"32"33"33"33"33"
161-170



31"31"32"33"33"33"33"
171-180





32"33"33"33"34"
181 +






33"33"34"34"

AGE
LENGTH
7 and under
24-26"
8 - 10
26-29"
11 - 12
30-31"
13 - 14
31-32"
15 - 17
32-33"
18 +
33-34"

Additional Baseball Bat Considerations

When shopping for a baseball bat, you’ll also want to consider the construction and the material of the baseball bat. It’s important to keep in mind your skill level and performance when looking at these two features of a baseball bat.

One-Piece vs. Two Piece Bats

The main difference between one-piece bats and two-piece bats is the amount of vibration players feel in their hands. If you’re able to consistently hit the sweet spot or are looking for feedback on your hit, a one-piece baseball bat would be a better option. Those players who are just learning to play or want to reduce the amount of vibration felt should consider a two-piece bat.

Composite vs. Aluminum Bats

The main difference between composite bats and aluminum bats is the size of the sweet spot. A composite bat features a wider sweet spot in order to improve your opportunities for a solid hit. With a large sweet spot, a composite bat is ideal for younger players or kids just learning how to make solid contact with the ball. An aluminum bat has a smaller sweet spot which requires a bit more skill to make solid contact. 

It’s important to note the break-in time between the two different bat materials. An aluminum bat performs right from the start, while a composite bat takes between 150 to 200 swings until it’s ready for play. To evenly break in a composite bat, we recommend rotating the bat a quarter turn after each hit.

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 have questions on how to choose a baseball bat, stop into your local SCHEELS and talk with one of our baseball experts. 

Article By: SCHEELS