Selecting the best softball bat should be given careful consideration by both players and parents. When a player steps into the batter’s box, there are only two things which are in their control and will help them – first, is the player’s skill level, and second is their softball bat. A player will have more confidence if she feels great about her bat.
Finding the Right Softball Bat
It should have the right length, weight, and balance to give you perfect control over the hits. The ideal softball bat will feel just right in your hands. Length and weight are the most important factors to consider, but you will have to evaluate your own strength, preferences and hitting mechanics too.
Selecting the Best Softball Bat Guide
There have been many changes in the way softball bats have been designed and made due to the recent changes in technology. A wider range of materials is now used to make the bat, including aluminum and composite. Not only will you have to evaluate all the above-mentioned factors, but you will also have to adhere to the regulations to ensure that you are making the right choice of bat based on your age, height, and weight. There are certain regulations limits on how long and how heavy a softball bat can be.
When it comes to choosing the right softball bat length, you should also take your age, height, and weight into consideration. Use the following steps to find what the right length for you will be:
- Place the knob in the middle of your chest and stretch out the bat in front
- You should be able to touch the bat’s end with your fingertips, not more not less
- You will know if the bat is too long when the bat’s end is beyond your fingertips.
There are even more factors to consider when choosing the right length of the softball bat. Your age is also an important factor. The following table makes it easier to choose the right softball length based on the player’s age.
- 5-7 years: 24-26 inches
- 8-9 years: 26-28 inches
- 10 years: 28-29 inches
- 11-12 years: 30-31 inches
- 13-14 years: 31-32 inches
- 15-16 years: 32-33 inches
- 17 and above: 34 inches
Your weight is also an important factor when choosing the right bat length. In fact, many experts consider it as a more important factor compared to your age.
The following table gives you an estimate of the appropriate bat length based on your weight:
- Less than 60 lbs: 26-30 inches
- 61-70 lbs: 27-30 inches
- 71-80 lbs: 28-31 inches
- 81-100 lbs: 28-32 inches
- 100-140 lbs: 29-33 inches
- 140-170 lbs: 30-33 inches
- 170-180 lbs: 31-34 inches
- 180 and above: 32-34 inches
Depending on other factors, it is likely that you may find a bat slightly smaller or larger to offer you better control.
The Importance of Bat Weight
When it comes to the bat’s weight, it is both about your strength and the kind of batter you are. Even the kind of pitcher you face regularly will influence this factor. Consider the following points when determining the perfect bat weight:
- Choose a light bat if you are slow or mostly swing late. If you are such a batter, you mostly make contact at the bat’s end and usually hit to the opposite field.
- Strong power-hitters should choose a -8 or -9 bat. A heavier bat will give you more power.
- When you face a strong pitcher, it is recommended to choose a lighter bat. It will give you the speed required to match the pitcher’s speed.
- When you face a slower pitcher, choose a -8, -9 or -10 bat. You can choose a heavier bat because even if it takes longer to get through the zone, you will not be too early on the pitch. It will also give you more power which will be useful especially you are facing a slow-moving pitch.
- Good singles hitters should look for a -10 bat.
The bat’s weight is usually measured in terms of ‘drop’, which refers to the difference between the bat’s length and its weight. Here the length is measured in inches but the weight is in ounces, not pounds. So a -8 means that the difference between the bat’s length and weight should be 8. In other words, the choice of the right weight also depends on the bat’s length.
Even when you follow these tips, make sure to try the bat out to find out what feels comfortable and what works best for you. Choose a bat that makes you feel comfortable, is well-balanced and gives you total control. Don’t choose a bat that’s too heavy and begins to tire your arms. At the same time, you don’t want to have a softball bat that’s so light that you go too fast through the zone.
Bat Size regulations
There are different associations, which each one having their own bat size regulations. It is recommended to follow the rules for the specific association you want to play for.
Some of the key rules set by the USA Softball include the following:
- The softball bats should be able to perform for ball speeds up to 98 mph.
- You can choose a bat made of a wide range of materials including aluminum, wood, composite, graphite or fiberglass.
- The bat can also be made of more than one piece.
- The bat has to be marked as Certified.
The USSSA lays down the following requirements for softball bats:
- All softball bats should be within the BPF factor of 1.20. BPF stands for Bat Performance Factor.
- All approved softball bats should be marked with the BPF
- The USSSA also allows the use of bats made of any material
- It also allows the bat to be made of one or more pieces
If you choose an association approved bat, it will be enough to play in other leagues too. It is, however, recommended to check your league’s regulations too. Whichever league you play for, there are some basic dimensions or limitations that all softball bats should meet. The bat should have a diameter of 2-1/4 inches. Its maximum allowed weight is 31.5 oz and length is 34 inches. These limitations apply to bats used to play in almost all associations.
So consider all these factors when choosing the right softball bat for yourself or someone else. The perfect bat will give you a level of control and comfort that no other bat can give. If you want to become a better batter, you will need more than proper training and skills. The right bat in your hands can make a huge difference to your performance levels in the long term.
— Andy Atticus
Andy is a sportswriter living in St. Paul, Minnesota.
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